Sandbox (4)

Sometimes very active discussions about peripheral issues overwhelm a thread, so this is a permanent home for those conversations.

I’ve opened a new “Sandbox” thread as a post as the new “ignore commenter” plug-in only works on threads started as posts.

708 Replies to “Sandbox (4)”

  1. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: Not you Allan, DNA_Jock. You weren’t the one demanding that EricMH support his statement or concede that it is unsupported opinion.

    OK, I was a bit confused by the fact that you used the statement in a reply to me. We’re easily confused, Jock and I …

  2. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    NYT article on Donald Knuth (paywalled):
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/17/science/donald-knuth-computers-algorithms-programming.html

    If you claim to know about computers, but do not know who Knuth is, then shame on you.

  3. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox: Actually I didn’t claim that. I regard objectivity as a desirable goal in ascertaining facts. Whether the climate is changing in undesirable ways and whether humans are causing or adding to the effect and whether collective effort could reverse it would be examples of where objectivity would be useful, especially among politicians. What I think about consensus that it is a precursor to morality rules. It starts with social behaviour.

    I still have no idea what you mean by “objectivity”. You say it’s a “desirable goal,” and that it would be “useful for politicians” and that it “starts with social behavior” but what is it?

    Incidentally, you actually DID suggest it was complete consensus in an earlier post, but if you now indicate that you don’t think that it is that, fine. But you need to tell us what you think it is.

  4. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    BruceS: NYT article on Donald Knuth (paywalled):

    Thanks.

    Here’s what I wonder — could a young budding Donald Knuth even get tenure in today’s world?

    I think we put too much value on narrow specialization, and we fail to adequately value the “big picture” people such as Knuth.

  5. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    Neil Rickert: Thanks.

    Here’s what I wonder — could a young budding Donald Knuth even get tenure in today’s world?

    I think we put too much value on narrow specialization, and we fail to adequately value the “big picture” people such as Knuth.

    I have no idea what qualifies someone for tenure in the field of computer science. But there are a helluva lot of papers listed in his CV on what seems to be applied mathematics, including applying it to analysis of algorithms, of course.

  6. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: I still have no idea what you mean by “objectivity”. You say it’s a “desirable goal,” and that it would be “useful for politicians” and that it “starts with social behavior” but what is it?

    A noun that I don’t use much, if at all. The adjective “objective” has a clear meaning to me. Bruce linked to something regarding scientific objectivity that makes complete sense to me.

    For one thing, there are two fundamentally different ways to understand the term: product objectivity and process objectivity. According to the first understanding, science is objective in that, or to the extent that, its products—theories, laws, experimental results and observations—constitute accurate representations of the external world. The products of science are not tainted by human desires, goals, capabilities or experience. According to the second understanding, science is objective in that, or to the extent that, the processes and methods that characterize it neither depend on contingent social and ethical values, nor on the individual bias of a scientist.

    I’d mention again that objectivity involves ascertaining facts – aspects of reality that can be measured and confirmed. The dating of the Turin Shroud comes to mind. Samples were supplied to several highly-credentialed labs for carbon dating; the results were similar. I’d say that was an exercise in objectivity. Was the result not also a consensus?

    Incidentally, you actually DID suggest it was complete consensus in an earlier post, but if you now indicate that you don’t think that it is that, fine. But you need to tell us what you think it is.

    Consensus and objectivity are related in my view. It would be difficult to arrive at a consensus on climate change without an objective look at the data.

  7. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox: A noun that I don’t use much, if at all. The adjective “objective” has a clear meaning to me. Bruce linked to something regarding scientific objectivity that makes complete sense to me.

    I’d mention again that objectivity involves ascertaining facts – aspects of reality that can be measured and confirmed. The dating of the Turin Shroud comes to mind. Samples were supplied to several highly-credentialed labs for carbon dating; the results were similar. I’d say that was an exercise in objectivity. Was the result not also a consensus?

    OK, that’s helpful. (But where did Bruce write that and what’s the link?) According to the product version, (roughly) something is objective if it is true. According to the process version, something is objective if it follows scientific procedures.

    The obvious problem with that (and maybe the author of the excerpt discusses it) is that it seems pretty clear that something could be objective 1 but not be derived from objectivity 2 and something could be derived from objectivity 2 and not be objective 1. So when one says, e.g., moral or prudential statements are not objective, if one means they don’t derive from objectivity 2 (scientific procedures), that’s kind of ho-hum, nobody (except maybe Spencer and that type) ever suggested they did. I think those who deny the objectivity of such statements definitely mean more than THAT. If you don’t, that’s fine….but….ho-hum.

  8. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: OK, that’s helpful. (But where did Bruce write that and what’s the link?)

    You don’t read all my posts? I am hurt.
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-objectivity/

    The obvious problem with that (and maybe the author of the excerpt discusses it) is that it seems pretty clear that something could be objective 1 but not be derived from objectivity 2 and something could be derived from objectivity 2 and not be objective 1.

    Yes, but I think that is the whole point of separating the two. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

    I read the author as saying science must be process objective but that product objectivity involves the separate question of the correctness of scientific realism. And I think that is precisely the case: the two questions are separate issues.

    For example, ethics could be process objective but without any need for an ontology (seems I have run across on idea possibly on those lines somewhere else…).

    And of course people like van Fraassen think science can be process objective without any need to commit to the truth of scientific statements about unobservables. And Quantum Bayesianists go further to say quantum entities do not exist, but without impugning the process objectivity of quantum science.

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