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The Half-life of Facts.

 
 
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Sat 19 Oct, 2013 02:59 pm
@fresco,
Holding lightly to facts and theories is perhaps the most difficult thing to accomplish in acareer in science, engineering or technology.
I remember when, as a grad student, I saw the voluntary termination of geoscientists who never learned to modify the "LAws of Superposition" when the new paradigms of Seafloor spreading were no longer deniable.

Deniability is what many scientists work with for years and years.
Look at what we are going through now with the discoveries about importance of epigenetic information and "neo-Lamarkian" transfer of genetic information.


We can always count on " Maintain your ignorance ,but with loftier understandings of your errors "
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Oct, 2013 03:16 pm
@farmerman,
Good post ! You've prompted me to do some googling on "epigenetic information". Wink
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Oct, 2013 03:32 pm
@fresco,
Facts are plentiful and mean very little. They also have an infinite half-life, they are true or false forever.

Like the fact you wrote "how would you differentiate ?" on A2K in post 5469991. That is not going to be false tomorow, nor in a thousand years.

Knowledge is highly subjective and fast changing. But much more useful than facts. It's about how to explain facts, tying them to one another so they start making sense.


fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Oct, 2013 03:48 pm
@Olivier5,
Quote:
They also have an infinite half-life, they are true or false forever.

...not according to the author !

IMO Facts are statements about "what works" in specific contexts and knowledge is awareness of such facts and their interdependence. There is some epistemological differentiation between "knowing how" and "knowing that" which implies we may need to reconsider the word "awareness" in terms both of its psychological and its sociological components.

Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Oct, 2013 03:57 pm
Anyone who has ever lived in the mountains knows that cooking, baking and, yes, the boiling of liquids, is different than it is near sea level. One takes that into consideration when cook, baking or boiling. The problem here is with Fresco's insistence in treating descriptions of reality as though that were the only reality. There is an objective reality--perhaps, like Dr. Johnson, Fresco should vigorously kick a stone each morning to remind himself of that fact. Fresco is always talking about descriptions of reality--which are, of course, subjective--but insisting that he is talking about reality itself. No one is going to make any headway with him on this subject.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Oct, 2013 03:59 pm
@fresco,
Do you think there will be a time when you somehow haven't asked "how would you differentiate ?" on A2K in post 5469991?
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Oct, 2013 05:06 pm
@Olivier5,
Its difficult to take a stand on either side of a pole here.

Many of our revised '"Facts" were merely the result of having new revolutionary machinery to measure phenomena that we had no idea even occurred until the machines that could actually measure the fabric of the problem later would give us pause to reconsider our entire "Theories'



Continental Drift-was obviously a non fact. It took WWII and searching the ocean floor for subs with new precession magnetometers , that when the data was reviewed several decades later they all said"WHAT are these stripes about". They stopped laughing at Herr Wegener (after the war was over)


Mendelian genetics would remain pure. simplistic, and missing of the point without the use of xray diffraction machinery that some English dude was playing with and later on when electrophoresis and PCR gizmos were developed.

When 2 guys got done cleaning out the bird **** from their radio telescope they discovered that the universe' s shape and movement could be measured. This led to the confirmation of a theory that some Chritin Brother had (And, like Wegener , was laughed at)

CAreful measurement of decays of about 30 different radioactive isotopes caused a rethinking of the "fact" of creation . Now weve refined the techniques with such gizmos as SHRIMP, so we can determine our error bars are much less than 1%.

Imsure we can come up with many other areas (Quantum chemistry,; whether coffee Is now good for you or not; we "KNOW FOR CERTAIN "that Vitamin C will NOT prevent a cold)

Maybe Im oversimplifying this but , like fresco was talking about pi. Id like to submit these three
1. " the new crystal lattice based on quanta".
2 "Colombia to PAngea" and
3 "how big do we know the universe is today?'




Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Oct, 2013 07:34 pm
@farmerman,
Quote:
Many of our revised '"Facts" were merely the result of having new revolutionary machinery to measure phenomena that we had no idea even occurred until the machines that could actually measure the fabric of the problem later would give us pause to reconsider our entire "Theories'

Changes nothing to what I said. 'Facts' of course is a bit ambiguous a term but 'data' are certainly hard to change. You make a measurement a few times and you get a range of results. And this data is as hard as your methodology was sound. Of course methodologiescan be reassessed and improved but the observations remain what they were.

Oh and I didn't understand your 3 questions.
0 Replies
 
raprap
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Oct, 2013 08:21 pm
My fifty cents.

I seem to differentiate 'facts' into 'standards', 'occurrences' and 'observations'.

'Standards' are measurements the meter, kilogram, second, anything that is needed to make a measurement. Standards as a whole have a long half life.

"Occurrences' when measured using 'standards' have half-lives as long as Standards.

"Occurrences' when not measured using 'standards' have half lives of two generations (SWAG).

"Observations" are facts that attempt to explain 'Occurrences.' Scientific Theories are "Observations" that are measured with 'Standards.' These 'Facts' have a long fact half-life as their chief competition is new stronger 'Observations' and not the frailty of cultural memory.

Any other 'Observation' has a Fact half life of a television season (another SWAG).

Gawd! I luv ya man

Rap

maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Oct, 2013 08:59 pm
@contrex,
Sea level is changing.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Oct, 2013 11:16 pm
@farmerman,

O5

I wasn't even addressing you, I was merely the next poster in line and I hit the button on your post. But since you asked, the following things were not even considered possible until post WWII, and they changed the "facts" enough to cause guys to retire (at least the first 2)

"New" crystal lattice takes into account quantum mechanics of how atoms share bonds and electrons nd nuclei are actually "fuzzy" encounters with each other and that "defects" in lattices cause sizeable inclusions of metals other than the main one in a lattice. This was unknown till the 60's

Colombia and PAngea were two "Super continental" masses through time and allowed us to study all the worlds geography in terms of plates smacking into each other. That wasn't made a mature science till the late 70;s

We jeut learned this week that we have increased the known size of our universe by finding a star that acts as a "lens". Thius allowing us to see several more hundreds of millions of light years out. The "brane" concept may have to be revised (or not) That's all mathturbation to me.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Oct, 2013 11:32 pm
@raprap,
Quote:
'Facts' have a long fact half-life as their chief competition is new stronger 'Observations' and not the frailty of cultural memory.
which, I think, is the primo concern of this thread by fresco.

"Theories" are proposed and used as working models till something that accounts for more "observations" arises.
That's how continental drift came about.
The first guy looked at a map of the ATlantic and saw a closely fitting puzzle. He also saw fossils of the same plants of a same age on either side of the Atlantic

Everybody said "Bullshit"

WWII came along and sub hunters kept having to "reset" their baselines of their magnetometers that they were towing to account for changes in magnetic declination and field intensity. These changes formed "Stripes in the ocean floor bed.

Then two Canadians and a USGS geologist saw some accreting sediment masses stuck onto the Canadian SHield an the US Appalachins and came up with a mechanism called "New Global Tectonics" in the late 1960's. Since then, its been pretty much a "Bandwagon" of sea floor spreading . Some famous old geologists just cashed in their 401's back then and said they were finished because this was a REvolution in the science and theyd have to go back to school.

This created a simple and elegant explanation for linear mountain ranges that paralleled coast lines and extreme differences in ages of rock masses that were next to each other.
Our entire science was based upon tectonics that went "Up and Down".ike WACKA MOLE. Now we understand that vertical rising landmasses are caused by smashing of "plates" into each other. (It also explains quakes, ocean deeps, and mineral deposits)

0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Oct, 2013 12:34 am
@Setanta,
"Objectivity" as used in the phrase "an objective reality" is the assumption that we can stand "god-like" apart from our interactions with what we call "the world". If we suspend such a picture and look instead how the word "reality" is used in daily communication (not philosophy) it simply boils down to social negotiation about what is considered factual (aka relevant )in particular contexts.And since "context" is defined by time, place, and particular negotiators, the argument for permanent facts fails.

Of course there is a transcendent* argument for persistent facts, like the painful interactions of the common physiologies of humans with what they may functionally label "stones", but such persistency/expectancy is sustained only in as far as humanoid observers exist as a necessary component of "the context".

* I use the word transcendent here to denote a vantage point which is one level above the interactional, but without the assumption of a god-like "objectivity". For example, I must acknowledge that even the phrase "common physiology" denotes a functional expectancy which has evolved in particular contexts.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Oct, 2013 01:11 am
@Setanta,
(Timed out)...

In addition, I reiterate the argument I have made elsewhere that persistence per se, is an attribute of abstract words which are socially aquired components of the human planning process. Thus the "tree" of yesterday may be functionally equivalent to the "tree" of today for some contexts, by virtue of re-use of the word " tree" even though at the biological level "the tree" may no longer be "the same".

From this viewpoint words are not used to describe "reality", they actively construct "reality" by facilitating and denoting human expectancies.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Oct, 2013 04:23 am
@fresco,
No good--you're still conflating descriptions of reality with reality. What was constructed was a description of reality, that's all.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Oct, 2013 04:37 am
@Setanta,
I understand your opinion. A reasoned point by point counter argument would be appreciated.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Oct, 2013 05:17 am
@fresco,
What would be the point of that? As i've said, time and again, you're not talking about reality, you're talking about descriptions of reality. Discussing descriptions of reality in detail, and how they're arrived at won't change that, and i've never disputed how these descriptions of reality are arrived at. In fact, understanding such transactions are crucial to understanding important aspects of social reality, such as successful commercial advertising, successful political manipulation of the electorate in democracies, international diplomacy--even the decisions about when, where and to what extent a nation will go to war.

None of such discussion of how people construct their descriptions of reality, however, alter that there is a reality which is immune to our descriptions; and the quality of our understanding of that reality (poor, good, excellent or not at all) conditions those descriptions. That that reality may change over time just increases the degree of difficulty in describing it--it does not change the fundamental nature of a reality, which exists independently of and is not derived from our discussions of it.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Oct, 2013 07:44 am
@Setanta,
Okay. Without labouring the point, if we concede that we can never have 'direct access' to your assumed 'independent reality' I suggest that any concept of it at all requires a move equivalent to a god-like vantage point.
Secondly, it is well argued in current linguistic circles that words are not representational of 'things' but representational /revocational of experiences.

Obviously you are free to disagree with these points but I suggest the arguments are well worth following up.
IRFRANK
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Oct, 2013 08:23 am
@Olivier5,


Quote:
Facts are plentiful and mean very little. They also have an infinite half-life, they are true or false forever.


Some facts have an infinite half-life. Some do not. The sky is blue has a half-life of what, about 6 hours? It is black with white dots at night.

The earth is round (not perfectly) has a much longer half-life, I hope.

Is knowledge not the understanding of facts?
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Oct, 2013 08:43 am
@raprap,
Quote:
Scientific Theories are "Observations" that are measured with 'Standards.' These 'Facts' have a long fact half-life as their chief competition is new stronger 'Observations' and not the frailty of cultural memory.

Scientific theories are invented, in order to explain observed data / facts.
 

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