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

  1. Patrick,

    Sprinkling quantum woo on an argument does not make it magically compelling.

    Labeling something “quantum woo” does not magically make it so.

  2. KN,

    Our current understanding of physical reality does not permit us to reconcile general relativity and quantum mechanics. Under these epistemic constraints, any argument for or against determinism is going to face significant obstacles.

    There are good reasons to expect unitarity in a successful theory of quantum gravity — good enough to cause Hawking to concede defeat in his “war” with Susskind, even without such a theory in hand.

  3. keiths: When the rest of us talk about the time-reversibility of the laws of physics, you actually think we’re saying that time can flow backwards.

    There you go again with your mind powers. Not only do you manage to know what I think without my telling you, you manage to know what every other participant thinks, too. Most impressive.

    What need have I to respond when you can respond for me and everyone else?

    I have no idea what another commenter’s view is on a specific issue unless they happen to set it out explicitly or implicitly. If they don’t mention it, if I’m curious, I might ask. If I’m not, I won’t. If they don’t bother to reply, I accept they don’t want to reply.

    Regarding the reversibility of time in realty, let’s ask the question. Who else thinks that time is reversible?

    I don’t.

    Time’s arrow

  4. keiths: There are good reasons to expect unitarity in a successful theory of quantum gravity — good enough to cause Hawking to concede defeat in his “war” with Susskind, even without such a theory in hand.

    Not doubting you, but what are those reasons?

  5. Alan:

    There you go again with your mind powers. Not only do you manage to know what I think without my telling you, you manage to know what every other participant thinks, too. Most impressive.

    My magic power is that I can read, Alan. That’s the method I use to figure out what you and others think about a topic.

    You wrote:

    Patrick, if I understood him correctly, was pointing out that the past cannot be known precisely from information, however detailed, from the present. And that seems correct to me. Travel into the future is not paradoxical. Time travel into the past on the other hand…

    And:

    Thé impossibility of time travel into thé past is where I suggest models that are time-réversible are not accurate models of reality.

    Your confusion is obvious, with no mind-reading required. You actually thought that the time-reversibility of physical laws depended on the possibility of time travel!

  6. keiths: You actually thought that the time-reversibility of physical laws depended on the possibility of time travel!

    Wrong and a non-sequitur. But a predictable response. I keep making the distinction between reality and the fiction of mathematics. Different folks, different interests. I’m still wondering what the point is of your assertions about certainty.

  7. keiths:
    By denying your mistake, you just draw more attention to it.

    It’s a mistake now? When did I stop beating my wife? I tell you that I don’t have an idea what other people think about the reversibility of time, unless they have made their position clear. Nowhere have I said such a thing explicitly. If you claim to believe that I think this, it is insupportable. If you think I have implied this by writing something here, then by all means pursue it and if I have written something unclearly that you have misinterpreted I will correct or clarify as necessary.

    Déjà-vu all over again! 🙁

  8. keiths:

    Walto: What’s the difference between knowing your name and knowing that you’re seeing a tree?

    Keiths: The latter depends on the veridicality of the senses, but the former doesn’t.

    Haha. Maybe not the traditional five, but, then, what do you think knowing your name does depend on? Certainly memory is in there, no? You don’t think that is reliable either, remember?

    So tell us, keiths (or whatever your name is). Why couldn’t you be just as easily deceived about your name as about your vision? Maybe, without you realizing it, your eyes have always been much more reliable than your ability to remember proper names. Couldn’t this whole keiths biz be a (bad) dream?

    If you think you can know the name of the person that has been typing your posts but not what it is that that person has been doing (since that thing may not really be a keyboard, but be a pillow instead), your position is even sillier than I had believed.

    You know, you’re really better off if people DON’T read your posts–carefully or not. (Oh wait, IS that something you can know?) Anyhow, your position has now gone from entirely implausible to entirely incoherent–while retaining the implausibility. Well done!

  9. keiths: My magic power is that I can read, Alan.

    Others have the magic power that they can see! Reading actually depends on that (or hearing or touching) I understand. Amazing that you know you have a magic power that depends on some other magic power you’re sure that you don’t know you have.

  10. keiths: Science depends not just on the reliability of the senses (in the watered-down way in which you’re using the word), but also on their veridicality. I made that point in an earlier exchange:

    On this point, we have a fundamental disagreement. I do not think that empirical knowledge generally, or scientific knowledge in particular, requires that our perceptual systems be “veridical” (and I’m still not sure if by “veridical” you mean “incapable of error” or “incapable of detecting error”). On the contrary: I think that empirical knowledge, and scientific knowledge, requires our perceptual systems be reliable in precisely the watered-down sense in which I’m using the word.

    Empirical knowledge does require that our perceptual systems — like those of all other animals — are more or less reliable for guiding actions that contribute to the satisfaction of our goals. They do so by detecting and tracking those real patterns that are salient to the organism, given its species-specific needs and interests.

    Given this basically pragmatist conception of how sensing, perceiving, desiring, moving are functionally integrated in the life of organisms, the interesting question is, “to what extent, if any, can human beings distinguish between those patterns that are salient-to-them and those that are real? how is it possible for human beings to have greater objective knowledge than what other animals can have?”

    As I’ve said a few times before at TSZ, I think the answer is, briefly, “because language” (and the forms of shared intentionality with which language co-evolved). What language does, in light of pragmatist cognitive science, is that it enables shared intentionality, which in turn allows for ‘triangulation’ between cognitive agents, each of which is representing (in the dynamic, action-guiding, affordance-detecting sense of ‘representing’) the environment from its own embodied/embedded perspective.

    On this account, we actually do not need any “veridicality” of the senses in order to explain the objectivity of empirical knowledge and science. The same ‘watered-down’ reliability of our perceptual systems that is as true of us as it is of all other animals is sufficient to explain how, when coupled to language and to the forms of shared intentionality that co-evolved with language, experience and esp science allows us to discover truths about the actual world.

    Hence, when we use pragmatist cognitive science to explain how science itself is possible, we find that we do not need to introduce “the veridicality of the senses” as an unjustified assumption.

  11. BTW, I don’t think the writer should have suggested that it’s non-controversial that statements about, e.g., next Thursday’s weather, are neither true nor false today. Ryle has a great paper on that. Doubtful that either the writer or any of the cosmologists discussed have read it though.

  12. walto,

    Memory is covered by my comments above concerning the intellect.

    It’s interesting that you think that by arguing against the trustworthiness of memory, you somehow strengthen your position.

    Anyway, it’s time for you to stop stalling and address my question, as you promised you would:

    I’ll respond to this when you either admit that you actually know your name or admit that you don’t believe that you do know your own name.

    Here’s the question again:

    Why resort to a invalid circular argument against Cartesian skepticism when a valid non-circular argument for it is available?

  13. keiths,

    Oh, Keith. Your comments on memory are precisely what I was relying on (and you cannot rely on). Your position is preposterous–both implausible and now incoherent to boot.

    As to your question. I’ve already answered it many times. You have actually given no argument. (You’ll have to trust me on this, your memory being what it is.) You are simply using “know” in an odd way, one that has led you into a big mess.

  14. walto,

    Your promise, again:

    I’ll respond to this when you either admit that you actually know your name or admit that you don’t believe that you do know your own name.

    How do you answer the question?

  15. I just responded about one minute ago. Your question was why don’t you like my argument better than something. I responded that you have made no argument.

    Your position is borderline nuts.

  16. KN,

    On this point, we have a fundamental disagreement. I do not think that empirical knowledge generally, or scientific knowledge in particular, requires that our perceptual systems be “veridical” (and I’m still not sure if by “veridical” you mean “incapable of error” or “incapable of detecting error”).

    Neither, and we’ve been over this. I am not demanding perfect sensory veridicality as a basis for knowledge, and the definition I’m using is the one I already gave you, shared by George Lakoff:

    2
    : not illusory : genuine <it is assumed that … perception is veridical — George Lakoff>
    [emphasis added]

    To use walto’s preferred bovine example, if I perceive a cow in front of me, and there really is a cow in front of me, then my perception is veridical in this instance (ignoring the perceptual equivalent of Gettier counterexamples, which are handled by the ‘not illusory’ part of the definition anyway).

    On the contrary: I think that empirical knowledge, and scientific knowledge, requires our perceptual systems be reliable in precisely the watered-down sense in which I’m using the word.

    Empirical knowledge does require that our perceptual systems — like those of all other animals — are more or less reliable for guiding actions that contribute to the satisfaction of our goals.

    The fact that sensory reliability (in your watered-down sense) is needed for knowledge does not mean that it is sufficient for knowledge. It clearly isn’t, because to satisfy one’s goals within a virtual world does not change the fact that the world is virtual.

    What language does, in light of pragmatist cognitive science, is that it enables shared intentionality, which in turn allows for ‘triangulation’ between cognitive agents, each of which is representing (in the dynamic, action-guiding, affordance-detecting sense of ‘representing’) the environment from its own embodied/embedded perspective.

    That’s not enough, because the world you and they are ‘triangulating’ upon might be virtual — an illusion presented to all of the agents in a coordinated way. (Not to mention the fact that you might be the only “real” agent — the others, with whom you are co-triangulating, might themselves be virtual.)

    Anyway, I’m glad you’ve (apparently) dropped the pretense that I am not arguing in good faith.

  17. keiths: The fact that sensory reliability (in your watered-down sense) is needed for knowledge does not mean that it is sufficient for knowledge. It clearly isn’t, because to satisfy one’s goals within a virtual world does not change the fact that the world is virtual.

    That’s confused. Knowledge requires truth, which is absent if the world is “virtual.” You need an argument to the effect that no non-demon-defeasing justification can ever be sufficient for knowledge WHERE BELIEF AND TRUTH ARE PRESENT.

  18. walto,

    I responded that you have made no argument.

    I’ve made an argument, but you don’t have a viable response.

    It must be frustrating for you to label my position “incoherent” and “borderline nuts” and yet be utterly unable to refute it.

  19. keiths,

    It must be pleasant for you to have no idea what an argument consists in.

    ETA: It’s probably also nice to have no idea what sorts of assertions require refutations. No one will ever be able to refute the existence of your invisible unicorn Topsy! That’s key when you take borderline nuts positions on things.

  20. keiths, to KN:

    The fact that sensory reliability (in your watered-down sense) is needed for knowledge does not mean that it is sufficient for knowledge. It clearly isn’t, because to satisfy one’s goals within a virtual world does not change the fact that the world is virtual.

    walto:

    That’s confused. Knowledge requires truth, which is absent if the world is “virtual.”

    There’s still a real world in the Cartesian scenarios, walto. It’s just that we’re experiencing a virtual world instead of the real world.

  21. keiths:
    keiths, to KN:

    walto:

    There’s still a real world in the Cartesian scenarios, walto.It’s just that we’re experiencing a virtual world instead of the real world.

    That’s (unsurprisingly) irrelevant. I’m talking about the falsity of the claim that’s supposed to be known. If it’s false, of course it’s not known.

  22. walto.

    It’s not irrelevant. Truth and falsehood are relative to the real world, which is still present (though not perceived) in pure Cartesian scenarios.

    You seem not to realize that you are arguing against yourself:

    Knowledge requires truth, which is absent if the world is “virtual.”

    If that were correct, it would be an argument against your position, not for it.

  23. keiths: I’m talking about the falsity of the claim that’s supposed to be known. If it’s false, of course it’s not known.

    As I’m sure you know keiths, I added this within about a minute, since I was afraid you’d not understand (and I was right):

    I’m talking about the falsity of the claim that’s supposed to be known. If it’s false, of course it’s not known.

    Dunno if KN has really dropped the claim that you don’t argue in good faith, but in any case, it’s still strong on my end. You’re awful.

  24. walto,

    I’m talking about the falsity of the claim that’s supposed to be known. If it’s false, of course it’s not known.

    That’s right. Truth is relative to the real world, not some virtual world. So a person experiencing a virtual world and making knowledge claims based on that experience is wrong to do so.

    When are you going to defend your position instead of arguing against it? Have you seen the light and become a Cartesian skeptic?

  25. keiths:
    walto,

    That’s right.Truth is relative to the real world, not some virtual world. So a person experiencing a virtual world and making knowledge claims based on that experience is wrong to do so.

    When are you going to defend your position instead of arguing against it?Have you seen the light and become a Cartesian skeptic?

    Oy.

    Confusion, thy name is keiths (maybe).

  26. Anyone out there who can do what walto cannot, and actually defend his (walto’s) position?

  27. keiths: That’s not enough, because the world you and they are ‘triangulating’ upon might be virtual — an illusion presented to all of the agents in a coordinated way. (Not to mention the fact that you might be the only “real” agent — the others, with whom you are co-triangulating, might themselves be virtual.)

    Sure, we might be triangulating in a virtual world. And Donald Trump might be a Mossad agent, my water-bottle might be an idol of the forgotten god Sharnazdu, and the CIA might be an advance guard for interstellar invasion.

    SO
    FUCKING
    WHAT

  28. Kantian Naturalist,

    So keiths doesn’t know his own name, where he is, what he’s doing, or where he’s ever been. Yet we should nevertheless trust him implicitly on all matters of epistemology–and whatever else he’s posting about (or might be posting about?) today.

    Simple moral, really, KN. Not sure what you aren’t getting. I mean, this is THE SKEPTICAL ZONE, RIGHT???

  29. walto,

    So keiths doesn’t know his own name…

    Jesus Christ, walto. Do you never tire of misrepresenting your opponents’ positions?

  30. KN,

    Sure, we might be triangulating in a virtual world. And Donald Trump might be a Mossad agent, my water-bottle might be an idol of the forgotten god Sharnazdu, and the CIA might be an advance guard for interstellar invasion.

    SO
    FUCKING
    WHAT

    So calm down and face your situation like a grown-up.

    You want to claim that you know things about the external world on the basis of your perceptions, yet you’ve failed at justifiying that move. Your argument is circular and you’ve stated that there are no non-circular arguments to be had.

    Meanwhile, a skeptic has provided a sound, non-circular argument for skepticism that you cannot refute.

    Why not do the rational thing? What is the point of lying to yourself about what you can and cannot claim to know?

  31. walto,

    Yet we should nevertheless trust him implicitly on all matters of epistemology–and whatever else he’s posting about (or might be posting about?) today.

    No, you shouldn’t trust me implicitly. You should examine my argument as carefully and dispassionately as possible, instead of stamping your feet and crying “But I don’t like that conclusion! Don’t like it, don’t like it, don’t like it!”

    Do you think you could manage that, for once?

  32. walto,

    Therefore, I should pronounce the word “know” with a silent asterisk whenever I use it. Apparently.

  33. KN,

    Therefore, I should pronounce the word “know” with a silent asterisk whenever I use it. Apparently.

    Yes, where the implicit asterisk is a simple nod to the fact that your knowledge claim is legitimate only if your senses are, in fact, generally veridical.

    What’s wrong with being honest? Why the deep need to lie to yourself about what you can claim to know?

  34. keiths: What’s wrong with being honest? Why the deep need to lie to yourself about what you can claim to know?

    No one here has any need to lie to themselves. There’s just a deep disagreement between us about the structure of justification, combined with you being an insufferable, condescending asshole whom I shall ignore henceforth.

  35. KN,

    No one here has any need to lie to themselves.

    If so, whence your preference for a bad argument over a good one?

    Why not be rational and adopt the position that is better supported?

  36. keiths

    Sorry, keiths, but your view entails that you don’t know your own name. Learning it requires that your senses were at some point reliable in a manner you deny and that your memory is now also reliable in a manner in which you deny. I don’t care if you don’t like that entailment, you’re stuck with it. Consistency requires you to admit this, and the fact that you won’t simply adds self-contradiction to the implausibility and incoherence you’re already wedded to. It’s a very pretty mess you’re concocting!

    And KN is right about your personality. It’s really awful!

  37. walto,

    Sorry, keiths, but your view entails that you don’t know your own name. Learning it requires that your senses were at some point reliable in a manner you deny and that your memory is now also reliable in a manner in which you deny.

    I consider my name to be what I use to refer to myself, and I know what that is. I may not know what name my parents gave me, but that’s a different issue.

    This isn’t hard, walto.

  38. KN,

    Here’s an analogy that shows how serious the problem of circularity is for your position.

    Suppose that a few decades from now you possess a really high-fi pair of virtual reality goggles, plus some sensitive motion sensors. You kidnap a North Sentinel Islander who knows nothing about virtual reality or computers, and you tell him that the goggles and sensors are magical devices that can grant him access to an actual land, LaLa Land, which is far away.

    The islander learns to navigate LaLa Land successfully, even carrying out tasks within it. If you ask him questions about LaLa Land, he answers them “correctly”. He even claims to know things about LaLa Land, which he takes to be real. We know better, because we understand that the goggles do not deliver veridical sensory information. They are fostering an illusion. LaLa Land doesn’t exist in the real world.

    The islander could argue, KN-style:

    1. I assume that the goggles deliver veridical information about LaLa Land.

    2. On the basis of that assumption, I am able to navigate LaLa Land successfully and satisfy my goals.

    3. Therefore, the goggles deliver veridical information about LaLa Land.

    Is he right? Obviously not. We can see that he is being fooled, and we can diagnose the problem with his argument: it’s blatantly circular.

    How is your argument any better than his?

  39. keiths:
    walto,

    I consider my name to be what I use to refer to myself, and I know what that is.I may not know what name my parents gave me, but that’s a different issue.

    This isn’t hard, walto.

    It’s too hard for you, obviously. You don’t even know that you’ve ever actually used that name to refer to yourself before, given your memory concerns. Your position requires that you have no knowledge of your name be cause you could just be dreaming that you or anyone else ever uses that name for yourself.

    Furthermore, what you ‘use to refer to yourself’ is not what anybody else means by ‘your name.’ See how far that equivocation gets you when you’re stopped by a cop.

    I’m sorry but even if you won’t admit it here, you’re just going to have to admit to the cop that you don’t actually know your own name (since I’m guessing he doesn’t give two shits what you call yourself, unless it’s your name).

  40. walto,

    You don’t even know that you’ve ever actually used that name to refer to yourself before, given your memory concerns.

    What “memory concerns”? Could you at least try to understand my position? The endless hand-holding and spoon-feeding that you require are becoming quite tiring.

    You were the one who raised the issue of memory, and I responded here, referring back to this comment. Read what I’ve written. Repeat until you the light dawns on you.

    I’m sorry but even if you won’t admit it here, you’re just going to have to admit to the cop that you don’t actually know your own name (since I’m guessing he doesn’t give two shits what you call yourself, unless it’s your name).

    Why would I “have to admit” that to the cop, when I could simply use “know” in my usual way, with the implied asterisk?

    Think, walto.

  41. keiths,

    No no no. The cop is interested in your NAME, not what you happen to be going by with yourself today. The latter is what you don’t know (on your crazy view).

    Try to learn keiths. And come back when you know what your parents named you– YOUR NAME.

    ETA: btw, I stupidly just clicked on the links you put in your last post, though I should have known you better by now. Those aren’t ‘responses.’ They’re spam. Your name isn’t something one can know via ‘the intellect.’ Such nonsense!

    I guess we shouldn’t expect any more from somebody who doesn’t even know his own name, though.

  42. keiths:
    Patrick,

    Labeling something “quantum woo” does not magically make it so.

    According to Bruce’s recent posts on the topic, it makes no difference to anything discussed here, since the states of both swamp people and abducted Patrick should be considered to have been produced by open systems that are therefore not reversible.

    So quantum woo or non-sequitor. Take your pick.

    (Learn your name first, though.)

  43. walto: he cop is interested in your NAME, not what you happen to be going by with yourself today. The latter is what you don’t know (on your crazy view).

    Sorry, I meant to write ‘the former’ not ‘the latter’ there. That will probably have been clear to most people, but to those who don’t even know their own names, who knows?

    Anyhow, it was a mistake of mine.

  44. walto,

    If I knew that my senses were veridical, then I could legitimately claim to know — with no asterisk — what my parents named me. Since I don’t know that my senses are veridical, I can’t make that claim. Hence the implicit asterisk after the word “know”.

    The same goes for you and everyone else, of course. We know* our given names, but we don’t know them.

    It’s simple and straightforward, and you have no refutation. Hence your substitution of mockery for argument.

    Why not do what a philosopher would do, and try to develop an effective argument against my position?

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