Is Time the Enemy of Error

They laughed at me and made jokes but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt and with… geometric logic… that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox DID exist, and I’d have produced that key if they hadn’t of pulled the Caine out of action. I, I, I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow office

For some of us old farts Captain Queeg is a symbol of reasonableness over reason.

For me, he is the patron saint of cranks, and a crank is someone who employs geometric logic in the service of silly axioms and premises.

Queeg is, for me, the archetype of someone who thinks great arguments are settled by reason.

My own thought is that if theology and philosophy could be decided by reason, the great debates would have been settled long ago.

My thought is that theologies and philosophies go in and out of fashion over time. Some rise in favor because they are useful and productive, but most just drift.

Over time, ideas gain or lose market share, but seldom die out altogether or become universal.

I’m sure there’s a name for this.

37 Replies to “Is Time the Enemy of Error”

  1. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
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    Yes — it’s called “pragmatism”.

  2. petrushka
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    I like short threads where things get settled quickly.

  3. stcordova
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    No – because all things, even the universe, dies.

    It’s like a broken computer, it just gets trashed after it host its errors (now now, there should not be anyone who believes complex operating systems are free of bugs).

    And hence we all lose our minds in the end, so errors of thought and fact will never get corrected permanently.

    🙂

  4. Zachriel Zachriel
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    Look before you leap!

  5. Zachriel Zachriel
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    He who hesitates is lost!

  6. Zachriel Zachriel
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    says:

    Time is money.

  7. William J. Murray
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    Petrushka said:

    My own thought is that if theology and philosophy could be decided by reason, the great debates would have been settled long ago.

    They have been settled. Unfortunately, the power of human denial and cognitive bias trumps reason every time. Just because something can be denied doesn’t mean it’s not settled.

  8. GlenDavidson
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    says:

    Over time, ideas gain or lose market share, but seldom die out altogether or become universal.

    I’m sure there’s a name for this.

    Competition.

    Think of evolution/ID/creationism. Science can’t use ID/creationism, so it’ll never adopt either/both, and odds are that evolutionary theory incorporating much of what exists today will continue to reign in science. But who can deny that evolution isn’t of much use to many people, who do find anti-evolution religion valuable for their own lives? Evolution is just bad news for them.

    So who really cares? But then there are issues of whether this is going to be a pro-science/technology society, and also the matter of truthfulness. Whether any actual group competing in society is especially involved in a general pursuit of truth is in question (and individuals should at least wonder if they are, either), but there’s certainly some appeal to the idea that “the true” should at least be able to compete in the marketplace of ideas. So it’s the freedom to push one’s ideas that is most important, and it’s what’s taught in school that becomes more of an issue (however, teaching ID as science really would be cheating the system of free speech plus educating kids)

    Science can’t promise what religion or “spirituality” can, and isn’t meant to do so. But its considerable limitations necessarily mean that it’s not something that can make people’s lives and societies whole, and it certainly can’t compete overall with systems that tell people how to live their lives. That’s one reason why religious battles over science are so bizarre, as the religious think they’re being told that they must limit their lives to the scientific (and some on “our side” actually do imply as much), and much of the science side really doesn’t get why all of this scientifically useless crap is supposed to mean anything in the “debate” (or, if it does understand, it still can’t actually address those concerns, since that’s the point, it should just be about science) .

    Science gives people what they need, magic gives them what they want. From Another Roadside Attraction. One might dispute what magic really does give people, but at least magic promises to give them what they want. That’s why it’s not likely to end. Even if science were to win in a society for a while, magic will promise to give people what they want, and science is going to lose market share again. Evolution may eventually cease to be at issue in this society, much as the flat earth movement is all but extinct, yet some science will likely be seen to stand in the way of what people want again and again. Humans will always want what science can’t provide.

    Glen Davidson

  9. walto walto
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    says:

    It was the goddam strawberries.

  10. OMagain
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    William J. Murray: They have been settled

    Oh? List the great debates, and how they were settled then.

    Or not. As you prefer.

  11. GlenDavidson
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    OMagain: Oh? List the great debates, and how they were settled then.

    Or not. As you prefer.

    Well don’t complain when you get a form of god did it for all of these “settled” matters.

    You asked for it.

    Glen Davidson

  12. petrushka
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    GlenDavidson: Well don’t complain when you get a form of god did it for all of these “settled” matters.

    I don’t complain. I merely note that the trend is away from organized religion. It’s a tidal change, and slow.

    I don’t see that the pace of social change is altered much by reason.

    More by technology.

  13. hotshoe_
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    says:

    walto:
    It was the goddam strawberries.

    The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher

    LIterally, my favorite book of all time.

  14. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
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    William J. Murray: Just because something can be denied doesn’t mean it’s not settled.

    True — but if the cogency of a demonstration is rejected by a lot of people, and if they have arguments for that rejection, that strongly suggests that the issue is not as settled as maintained by those who insist on the cogency of the demonstration.

    I think that, outside of strict formal logic and mathematics, it is not possible to settle any issue by reason alone. Even in logic and mathematics new systems are being devised that overturn old established truths, such as the necessity of the law of non-contradiction.

    Descartes dreamed of turning metaphysics into a scientia, one in which self-evident first principles form a foundation for knowledge and where all other claims are deduced, step-wise, so clearly and distinctly that no one could deny them. The history of philosophy since Descartes has shown that this is a fantasy, both in the idea that there are self-evident truths in the way that he conceived of them and in the idea that metaphysics & science could be re-formulated as deductive systems. Our epistemic practices are as messy and unruly as everything else that is “human, all-too-human”

  15. petrushka
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    I tend to agree with the dictum that science advances via funerals.

    It’s not entirely true, but it’s truish.

    As for creationism vs evolution or religion vs science, the debate is mostly entertainment. Science advances because it produces cool stuff like quartz watches and computers. Religion holds its ground because it’s tough finding a good pre-school, and lonely in old age.

  16. Richardthughes Richardthughes
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    says:

    William J. Murray:
    Petrushka said:

    They have been settled. Unfortunately, the power of human denial and cognitive bias trumps reason every time. Just because something can be denied doesn’t mean it’s not settled.

    You. Go and look at your own philosophical underpinnings and track record. You specialize in being wrong.

  17. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
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    says:

    petrushka: Science advances because it produces cool stuff like quartz watches and computers. Religion holds its ground because it’s tough finding a good pre-school, and lonely in old age.

    I think it would be better to say that there are many vitally important human needs and interests that science cannot satisfy, and that religion can satisfy at least some of them for many people.

  18. hotshoe_
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    petrushka: Religion holds its ground because it’s tough finding a good pre-school, and lonely in old age.

    Yep. I’ve resumed taking my mom to church on Sunday so she can meet people to talk to during the coffee hour afterwards.

  19. petrushka
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    Kantian Naturalist: I think it would be better to say that there are many vitally important human needs and interests that science cannot satisfy, and that religion can satisfy at least some of them for many people.

    In 70 years I’ve only met half a dozen people who care about religion per se. Theology and theological issues.

    At least three of these people were deeply unhappy, and their harping on religion alienated friends and family. One of them no longer speaks to his children, because they turned out to be non-fundamentalists. Another is in the middle of an ugly divorce.

    Church seems to provide comfort and society, and I suppose people like the general idea of not dying, but I don’t know anyone who has thought it through. It seems best if not spoiled by too much thinking.

  20. petrushka
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    Richardthughes: You. Go and look at your own philosophical underpinnings and track record. You specialize in being wrong.

    Ideas exist in a marketplace, and WJM is not selling well this week.

  21. Richardthughes Richardthughes
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    says:

    petrushka: Ideas exist in a marketplace, and WJM is not selling well this week.

    TURDBURGERS! GET YOUR 3 WEEK OLD TURDBURGERS!

  22. GlenDavidson
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    says:

    petrushka: Ideas exist in a marketplace, and WJM is not selling well this week.

    I know. I’ve been shortselling shares in WJM.

    Glen Davidson

  23. OMagain
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    says:

    Hmm,

    Hey, WJM, why is there something rather then nothing?

    It’s settled, right, so you can just go look it up and give me a book/page number. Please and thankyou.

  24. William J. Murray
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    KN said:

    The history of philosophy since Descartes has shown that this is a fantasy, both in the idea that there are self-evident truths in the way that he conceived of them and in the idea that metaphysics & science could be re-formulated as deductive systems.

    Sophistry is not philosophy.

  25. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
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    William J. Murray: Sophistry is not philosophy.

    Spoons are not dishrags, forks are not porcupines, and insults are not arguments.

  26. OMagain
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    William J. Murray: Sophistry is not philosophy.

    Especially ironic coming from you!

  27. hotshoe_
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    Kantian Naturalist: Spoons are not dishrags, forks are not porcupines, and insults are not arguments.

    🙂 🙂 🙂

  28. GlenDavidson
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    William J. Murray:

    Sophistry is not philosophy.

    Not until IDists are in control, and fix that problem.

    Glen Davidson

  29. Richardthughes Richardthughes
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    William J. Murray: Sophistry is not philosophy.

    Is that you announcing your retirement, WJM?

  30. William J. Murray
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    Kantian Naturalist: …. and insults are not arguments.

    That you feel insulted by a statement of fact doesn’t change the factual nature of the statement.

  31. OMagain
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    William J. Murray: That you feel insulted by a statement of fact doesn’t change the factual nature of the statement.

    What, the fact that according to you all the great debates are settled (since some date which you are keeping secret) and everything then has merely been a series of specious arguments?

    Yet given you refuse to say what those debates are and what those solutions were, your statements on this so far are the very definition of sophistry!

  32. Acartia Acartia
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    says:

    William J. Murray:
    Petrushka said:

    Just because something can be denied doesn’t mean it’s not settled.

    I completely agree. Thank you for agreeing that facts of unguided evolution, AGW and the lack of objective morality have been settled. I can stop reading UD now.

  33. Mung Mung
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    hotshoe_: I’ve resumed taking my mom to church on Sunday so she can meet people to talk to during the coffee hour afterwards.

    That’s awesome.

  34. REW
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    hotshoe_: LIterally, my favorite book of all time.

    Was this an attempt at a pun??

  35. llanitedave llanitedave
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    says:

    William J. Murray:
    Petrushka said:

    They have been settled. Unfortunately, the power of human denial and cognitive bias trumps reason every time. Just because something can be denied doesn’t mean it’s not settled.

    Yes, they were settled centuries ago. Which is why Galileo was so unsettling.

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