On Wed, 25 May 2005, Benjamin Udell wrote:

The induction-friendly universe with so much detectable rubbish that a wide variety of phenomena cannot be unified into a simple theory sounds like a universe where induction works but surmise, or inference to the simplest explanation, faces grave difficulties and too often fails. In other words, in difficult cases, efforts toward surmise -- i.e., "rambling speculations about half-formed ideas that probably won't pan out to anything" -- really will lead too often too far astray to be practicable, and cogent everyday surmises would be few and far between -- not everyday or quotidian at all. A greatly increased difficulty in the formation of explanatory hypotheses would, it seems, hamper not only science but SASs in general. Would intelligence and commonsense perception tend, on balance, to be useful in such a world? It sounds like a world which would allow vegetable-like systems (i.e., essentially mindless in the usual sense) but be severely punitive toward SASs inclined to try to be shrewd or clever and to try, for instance, to infer particular entities or events or universal laws (as opposed to prolonged tendencies) as explanatory reasons, or to try to play architect instead of subsisting on the continuation of tendencies. It also sounds like the evolution or "natural architecting" of even merely vegetable-like systems would likely be under pressure to play it a lot safer than it does in our world, so that the systems thus evolved would tend to be not only vegetable-like but also a lot more "generic" than those which we see. I guess I'm trying to argue (unconfidently) or suggest, for what it's worth, that induction-friendly but much-detectable rubbish universes with SASs are induction-friendly but surmise-unfriendly universes with SASs, and that their measure would be rather small.

Best regards,
Ben Udell

It's a question of degree, again. There is surely a level of "noise" which doesn't cause the problems you mention (although I would say that surmise, common sense etc are basically inductive reasoning from past experience, including past experience genetically encoded by natural selection which is one big inductive experiment). For most of history, the world has seemed a pretty random place to people (probably still does to most people), but they managed to survive without understanding how QM unifies the structure of matter, Natural selection explains so much about living things, etc. If the rubbish was there, we'd get used to it. Only scientists would be frustrated that they couldn't make any kind of sense of it. But they would be able to isolate the features of their world which did show regularity, so it wouldn't prevent science, either.


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