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

  1. Joe Felsenstein:

    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:

    You are right and thanks for the link.

    I had in mind the reddit article where the author used evolution to explain an alternative to Boltzmann’s explanation of us in an ordered universe. Boltzmann used anthropic arguments and random thermodynamic fluctuations. I understood the reddit author to be implying that Boltzmann did not understand how evolution could help avoid that approach.

    So my original statement was just my interpretation of what the reddit author is saying about Boltzmann’s knowledge.

  2. walto: I don’t see the connection with the die example–can you explain?

    The context
    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?

    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?

    In the die case, we could say there are an infinite number of possibilities of rolling N>6 all mutually inclusive and all with very low probability (namely zero). But we don’t say P(n=6) is infinitely low.

    However, on second thought I am not happy with saying that outcomes n>6 should be included in the sample space, so I retract my statement

    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.

    My basic point is that one cannot completely address issues of global skepticism by one’s philosophical approach to perception. I agree with your last sentence.

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

    Not sure what “graph” is referring to.

    ETA: Deleted a point about linking to other posts because more experimentation indicated it only works in some cases (if post is on same page?)

  3. Neil Rickert:

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

    Fair enough. However, I believe my point is the current consensus view of science.

    BTW, the points I am truying to make about semantics of the disjunction seem to me to be the same point you made much earlier about the “theistic” approach to meaning which seems to be part of Keith’s view.

    I am uncomfortable with what I took you to be saying then: what is real depends on what a linguistic community means by “real’. My first concern would be trying to establish a useful meaning for “real” from ordinary language usage.

  4. keiths,

    I disagree with nearly all of this post. I think Plantinga and FMM would agree with most of it, though, so you do have THAT going for you!

  5. BruceS,

    “Graph” was short for “paragraph.” You were trying to remember the name of some philosopher, but nothing rang a bell with me.

  6. walto:
    keiths,

    I disagree with nearly all of this post.I think Plantinga and FMM would agree with most of it, though, so you do have THAT going for you!

    Which post? Clicking the apparent link “Keiths” to find the post is unreliable for me. Quoting a line or two would be helpful.

  7. walto:
    BruceS,

    “Graph” was short for “paragraph.”You were trying to remember the name of some philosopher, but nothing rang a bell with me.

    “Sir Earl. Swirl.” = ” Searle”. In case your above point was not one-upping my attempt at humor (which was an allusion to argument by infallible personal intuition).

  8. BruceS: what is real depends on what a linguistic community means by “real’. My first concern would be trying to establish a useful meaning for “real” from ordinary language usage.

    Right. Each Cartesian disjunct is like an inflamed appendix. Or to use another metaphor, the tail is wagging the dog, but there really couldn’t be any dog with tails like that.

  9. BruceS,

    Right, those links don’t always do it, do they? It’s his apparently valedictory post about how we must know that our perceptual apparatus is reliable in order to know anything else. That’s basically the Plantinga view. The difference is that Plantinga understands that no epistemology is any good unless it explains how we know at least some of the things we think we know. Keiths is content not to know anything except some propositions he can’t state, but only summarize.

    I think keiths misses the whole point that language has to be acquired. This separation of truth and meaning seems completely wrongheaded to me. “The tree is green” is true iff the tree is green. And the tree is green iff what we mean by “tree” exemplifies that property which we mean by “green.” So, what do “tree” and “green” mean? Are they publicly perceived items or are they names of internal sensations?

    At least the Bostrom simulation story is consistent with public perceivables and language acquisition as we know it. But the BB and demon are just completely confused on those matters IMO. They are specimens of Cartesian theater theories. FWIW, I think Sellars classic “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind” is very good on those issues, as, of course, is Wittgenstein’s Investigations.

    And keiths repeats the circularity claim. But taking items in the common-sense world as Quinian “posits” does not use them as premises.

  10. BruceS: My basic point is that one cannot completely address issues of global skepticism by one’s philosophical approach to perception.

    I guess that’s true.

  11. BruceS: Fair enough. However, I believe my point is the current consensus view of science.

    (note that this was about the impending heat death of the universe)

    Yes, I agree that’s the consensus view.

    I do have in mind a hypothetical model where there would never be a heat death of the universe. I’m not claiming it is correct. I’m only claiming that it seems to be consistent with the empirical evidence. So we lack evidence that could rule it out.

    I am uncomfortable with what I took you to be saying then: what is real depends on what a linguistic community means by “real’. My first concern would be trying to establish a useful meaning for “real” from ordinary language usage.

    Given how you worded that, I’m guessing that you misunderstood my point.

    I’ll grant that we have some criteria (but unstated) for judging what is real. And we judge what is real based on those criteria, rather than by asking what is the community consensus. However, the criteria themselves come from something like a community consensus.

    Many people might say that “real” is how God sees the world. Here, “God” could be a hypothetical, so that even an atheist can have that view of “real”. However, all of the evidence suggests that we create gods in our own image, so how God sees the world is derived from how we see the world.

  12. BruceS: I had in mind the reddit article where the author used evolution to explain an alternative to Boltzmann’s explanation of us in an ordered universe. Boltzmann used anthropic arguments and random thermodynamic fluctuations.

    Do you have a link to that reddit article? I would be curious about the distinction between Boltzmann’s argument and that one.

    By the way, the Peter Schuster preprint I cited is of an article that I cannot find among his published articles. In 2006 in Complexity (issue 11) he has a much shorter article (really an editorial since he was the editor) that seems partly derived from it. (That is Complexity, not to be confused with the partly-moribund creationist journal BIO-Complexity).

  13. 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.

    Exactly. The question of “the veridicality of the senses” can be explicated in at least the following five questions, taking into account what gets addressed implicitly and explicitly by the Cartesian challenge to Aristotelian direct realism, the subsequent history of elaborations of and responses to that challenge, and bringing into contact with more-or-less contemporary philosophy and psychology:

    (1) In any ostensible perceiving, veridical or non-veridical, what is one perceptually aware of? Is one perceptually aware of one’s own sensations? Or is one perceptually aware of the physical object that? (Am I perceiving a tree? Or perceiving only my own sensations that I take to be caused by a tree?)

    (2) Are we justified in regarding ourselves as able to distinguish between veridical and non-veridical perception across a range of “normal” cases (ordinary waking experience, dreams, hallucinations, illusions, misjudgments, delusions, etc.)?

    (3) Do our perceptual systems reliably detect and track features of our environment when they are functioning more or less correctly?

    (4) What reassurance do we have if any, that we have any capacity at all to reliably distinguish between correct and incorrect functioning of our own perceptual systems?

    (5) What reassurance do we have, if any, that the features of the environment as detected and tracked by our perceptual systems are reliable indicators of the causal and modal structure of reality?

  14. keiths: You are unwittingly arguing that the timeless, unembodied God has a physical brain.

    The incarnation.

    I wonder if you even try to understand the position of other folks

    peace

  15. Robin: This is bass-ackwards FMM. If they weren’t reliable, optical illusions would not work consistently.

    So the claim is that perceptions are reliable because they can be wrong consistently?

    Does that mean that if our perceptions were always correct they would be unreliable?

    peace

  16. walto,

    It doesn’t answers FFM’s point. How do we know our perceptions are reliable? If they can be fooled or if they can’t be fooled?

  17. Kantian Naturalist: (3) Do our perceptual systems reliably detect and track features of our environment when they are functioning more or less correctly?

    How do we define “correctly”?
    Doesn’t that presuppose some purpose?

    Maybe the purpose of our perceptual systems is to fool us into believing that we are not in a simulation. In that case when we track features of our (true) environment they would be functioning incorrectly

    peace

  18. phoodoo:
    walto,

    How do we know our perceptions are reliable?If they can be fooled or if they can’t be fooled?

    I have answered that very question countless times (well, at least a couple dozen), not only on this thread but on many others–and not only in response to FMM. If you really want my views on this matter they are easily available without me needing to repeat them a 50th time: just go to the dashboard and use the search function.

  19. fifthmonarchyman,

    Right. If one is a true evolutionists, one should only assume that correct means the senses give us the best chance at survival, not the best chance at being accurate. Being delusional almost certainly would have some survival benefits in some circumstances.

  20. fifthmonarchyman: How do we define “correctly”?
    Doesn’t that presuppose some purpose?

    Maybe the purpose of our perceptual systems is to fool us into believing that we are not in a simulation. In that case when we track features of our (true) environment they would be functioning incorrectly

    peace

    Correctly functioning does not require purpose. The whole point of Darwinian theories of evolution is one can understand correct and indirect functioning of a biological system without invoking any purposes at all. Instead, a system is functioning correctly in an individual organism if the activity of that kind of system tended to promote fitness in the ancestral populations of the species to which that individual organism belongs. So correct and incorrect functioning can be explained in terms of past natural selection. No purposes required.

    Likewise, though Plantinga is correct to note that there is no logically necessary connection between successful action and accurate representation, our best understanding of cognitive system shows that there is in fact a causal link between the two. Cognitive science resolves “Darwin’s Doubt”. Plantinga just doesn’t understand this, because he does not understand cognitive science and evolutionary theory.

  21. Kantian Naturalist: our best understanding of cognitive system shows that there is in fact a causal link between the two.

    That is so nonsensical its almost tragic. If our best understanding was incorrect, how would one know?

    I mean come on KN, how in the world can you write these long convoluted meanderings quoting 7 different philosophers and ‘isms” of thought, and then write, “our best understanding is that our understating is correct. ”

    What a mockery of thought.

  22. Kantian Naturalist,

    Furthermore, what the hell are you talking about with “Darwins Doubt” in parenthesis? Cognitive science has helped us explain the explosion of life during the Cambrian?

  23. Kantian Naturalist: a system is functioning correctly in an individual organism if the activity of that kind of system tended to promote fitness in the ancestral populations of the species to which that individual organism belongs.

    right

    1) There nothing in that description about correctly tracking of our environment.

    3) It assumes present evolutionary theory is correct. That theory in turn assumes the reliability of our perceptions. IOW begging the question

    Kantian Naturalist: our best understanding of cognitive system shows that there is in fact a causal link between the two.

    1) “Our best understanding” is contingent on the reliability of our perceptions……. Still question begging

    2) I would disagree that our best understanding shows there is a causal link

    https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160421-the-evolutionary-argument-against-reality/

    peace

  24. walto: I have answered that very question countless times (well, at least a couple dozen), not only on this thread but on many others–and not only in response to FMM.

    The answer in a nutshell is as far as I can tell

    “one has no choice but to blindly trust that our unreliable perceptions are reliable because the alternative is to assume the Christian God and doing that is simply out of the question.”

    peace

  25. fifthmonarchyman: The answer in a nutshell is as far as I can tell

    “one has no choice but to blindly trust that our unreliable perceptions are reliable because the alternative is to assume the Christian God and doing that is simply out of the question.”

    peace

    fifthmonarchyman,

    I again applaud your ability to both mischaracterize and argue fallaciously in one and the same breath. Maybe you could teach a class on it. (Perhaps you were designed for that sort of work!)

  26. walto,

    I don’t think you should blame him for you refusal to state your position clearly then.

    Telling people to go look up what you really mean is quite lame Walto.

  27. fifth:

    I would note that the [Boddy, Carroll, and Pollack] 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.

    keiths:

    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.

    fifth:

    The incarnation.

    I wonder if you even try to understand the position of other folks

    It seems I understand your position better than you do. You’re contradicting yourself.

    According to you, the incarnation was Jesus’s way of entering time, because (again, according to you) a timeless being cannot interact with temporal creatures. That puts Jesus’s brain within time.

    The Father and Holy Spirit remain timeless. Are the Father and the Holy Spirit unconscious, fifth, since they lack Jesus’s physical, temporal brain?

  28. walto: I again applaud your ability to both mischaracterize and argue fallaciously in one and the same breath.

    I apologize if I have misrepresented you.

    Perhaps my unreliable perceptions have mislead me as to your true position. 😉

    maybe you could summarize how you know that your perceptions are reliable again and I might get it this time.

    Then again if my perceptions are consistently unreliable I’m not sure how that would help.

    😉

    peace

  29. keiths: The Father and Holy Spirit remain timeless. Are the Father and the Holy Spirit unconscious, fifth, since they lack Jesus’s physical, temporal brain?

    The Father and the Holy Spirit are in unity with the Son. That is what Trinity means.

    Everything that one member of the Godhead has is the property of all excepting only relational attributes.

    Three persons only one God

    quote:

    let it be considered that the whole Divine office is supposed truly and properly to subsist in each of these three, viz., God and His understanding and love, and that there is such a wonderful union between them that they are, after an ineffable and inconceivable manner, One in Another, so that One hath Another and they have communion in One Another and are as it were predicable One of Another; as Christ said of Himself and the Father “I am in the Father and the Father in Me,”

    so may it be said concerning all the Persons in the Trinity, the Father is in the Son and the Son in the Father, the Holy Ghost is in the Father, and the Father in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Ghost is in the Son, and the Son in the Holy Ghost, and the Father understands because the Son Who is the Divine understanding is in Him, the Father loves because the Holy Ghost is in Him, so the Son loves because the Holy Ghost is in Him and proceeds from Him, so the Holy Ghost or the Divine essence subsisting is Divine, but understands because the Son the Divine Idea is in Him.

    end quote:

    from here

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/edwards/trinity/files/trinity.html

    peace

  30. fifthmonarchyman,

    Haha,

    Well, at least now we know that cognitive science has shown that our perception of our perception is confirmed by our perceptions.

    I am sure Rumraket would concur with such jumbled doublespeak.

  31. fifthmonarchyman,

    Asking me (for the 50th time maybe?) how I know my perceptions are reliable suggests to me that you haven’t really grasped any of my prior posts on this subject. If you don’t want to read my responses to this question again (and who could blame you for that?) go read the Van Cleve paper I recommended. In fact maybe V.C. gets into that in the Reid book mung recently bought. If you can find mung, maybe he’ll lend it to you. If you really like Reid, I’m guessing you’d get a lot out of that book. V.C. is one of the leading Reid scholars around.

  32. fifth:

    The Father and the Holy Spirit are in unity with the Son. That is what Trinity means.

    Everything that one member of the Godhead has is the property of all excepting only relational attributes.

    fifth,

    You are really stepping in it (and flirting with heresy again). According to orthodox Christian belief, it was the Son who incarnated, not the Father or the Holy Spirit. That means that Jesus’s body was the Son’s body, and Jesus’s brain was the Son’s brain. Don’t forget Jesus praying to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, or crying out on the cross: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

    Besides that, you now have the same problem with Jesus’s brain that you have with Jesus’s butt. You’ve told us that it was Jesus’s butt that Moses saw in Exodus 33, yet the incarnation hadn’t yet occurred. Now you’re telling us that God’s every conscious thought as he interacted with the people of the Old Testament depended on the operation of a physical brain that, like Jesus’s butt, would not exist until hundreds of years later.

  33. phoodoo: jumbled doublespeak.

    fifth:

    The Father and the Holy Spirit are in unity with the Son. That is what Trinity means.

    Everything that one member of the Godhead has is the property of all excepting only relational attributes.

    You said it–except I think you meant triplespeak.

  34. BTW, as I’ve mentioned before (and linked to the Loudon Wainwright song),

    Four is a magic number
    But then again so is five
    There’s a sinking sinner in your gutter
    He’s the happiest man alive

  35. keiths:

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

    Alan:

    And you know this how?

    keiths:

    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.

    Alan:

    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.

    Anyone want to step in and explain the phrase “thought experiment” to Alan? 🙂

  36. walto: Four is a magic number
    But then again so is five

    One is the loneliest number
    That you’ll ever do…

    (Directly pertinent to envatted brains…)

  37. keiths: Anyone want to step in and explain the phrase “thought experiment” to Alan?

    Oddly coy of you not to want to step forward. Are you not feeling well? I’d appreciate an explanation of how you would envat your brain. Don’t use big words though.

  38. 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.

    keiths:

    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.

    Bruce:

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

    Sure, but I don’t think beliefs are necessarily linguistic either. Do you?

    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.

    🙂

  39. keiths: Sing it, RB!

    *Passes a lonely number…..*exhales*…..

    Whoa. We could all like be brains, in these vats, dude. Like wired in and stuff, and these evil dudes would be like fooling us into thinking that we’re talking about being brains in vats, when we’re not. Did you ever think of that? Dude, pass that back over here.

  40. keiths:

    Anyone want to step in and explain the phrase “thought experiment” to Alan?

    Alan:

    Oddly coy of you not to want to step forward. Are you not feeling well? I’d appreciate an explanation of how you would envat your brain. Don’t use big words though.

    Why, Alan — is that snark I detect in your comment? Don’t you care about “furthering the aims of TSZ”? 🙂

    Regarding thought experiments, suffice it to say that they are not dependent on the current state of technology.

    If you need more information, LMGTFY.

  41. keiths,

    Can’t you humour me and explain how a thought experiment of envatting brains works? In your own words? Please. Off to bed, now, so you have plenty of time. Night-night.

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