>-----Original Message-----
>From: Stathis Papaioannou [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]
>Sent: Monday, June 06, 2005 5:51 AM
>To: [EMAIL PROTECTED]; everything-list@eskimo.com
>Subject: RE: Hypotheses
>A couple of hours ago, I was speaking to a young man who informed me that he
>can predict the future: he has visions or dreams, and they turn out to be
>true. I asked him for an example of this ability. He thought for a moment,
>explaining that there were really far too many examples to choose from, then
>settled on this one. During the recent war in Iraq, he had a dream about a
>buried train containing weapons. Two days later - you guessed it - he saw on
>the news that a buried train containing WMD's was discovered in Iraq! "And
>if that doesn't convince you that I'm psychic", my patient said (for that is
>what he was), "I don't know what will!"
>My question to the list: should I have stopped this man's antipsychotic
>--Stathis Papaioannou

Not until he gave you a *prediction* that was unlikely and accurate.  It's easy
to convince yourself that you had thought of something *after the fact*.

Brent Meeker

>>From: rmiller <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
>>To: everything-list@eskimo.com
>>CC: "Giu1i0 Pri5c0" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
>>Subject: Hypotheses
>>Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2005 00:14:42 -0500
>>Re the hypotheses---Social scientists, astronomers and CSI agents are the
>>only ones I'm aware of who routinely evaluate events after the fact.  The
>>best, IMHO, such as the historian Toynbee, fit facts to a model. At it's
>>worst, the model becomes the event and before long we're deep in
>>reification (the Achilles heel of Structural Functionalism) or that
>>favorite of lazy reporters, *abduction* (this is our favorite explanation,
>>so that must be what happened.)  Mathematicians, philosophers and those
>>with a good math and logic background prefer their battles timeless and
>>relatively absent of worldly references.  Great theater, but as Scott
>>Berkun noted in his excellent
>>article<<http://www.scottberkun.com/essays/essay40.htm>> just because the
>>logic holds together, doesn't mean it's true.  Or correct.  Or
>>anything--other than consistent.
>>But logic is an inestimable tool if used to evaluate models such as those
>>proposed, developed and ridden into the dirt by many prominent social
>>scientists.  It is always refreshing to see a lumbering behemoth like
>>structural functionalism (a sociological model) dismantled by a skilled
>>logician who knows reification when he sees it (saw a little of that with
>>Lee Corbins' excellent rant.)  But it would be even better to see these
>>tools applied to truly strange events that take place in the real
>>world---things that Sheldrake writes about, for example.   Things that
>>*happen* to us all.
>>Unfortunately, that's not likely to happen.  It's the knee-jerk reaction of
>>most mathematicians and logicians to deride real world events as
>>"coincidence," when in fact, they are comparing the event to mathematical
>>certainty, and logical clarity.  They might say, "Why evaluate Sheldrake's
>>"precognitive" dogs in terms of a physics model, because Sheldrake's dogs
>>are not really precognitive."  That protocol (if you can call it that)
>>doesn't even rise to the level of *bad* abduction.   It's a protocol that
>>closes doors rather than opens them, is not designed to divine new
>>information, and is neither analytic *nor* synthetic.  Worst of all, it
>>claims to be science when it fact, it is preordained belief.  In other
>>words, it's okay to bend the rules and prejudge a variable as long as you
>>first call it "rubbish."
>>Slip-ups aside,  I would like to see a rigorous application of the powerful
>>tools of philosophy, logic and mathematics applied to the study areas of
>>social science, i.e. the real world.  Physicists are great at telling us
>>why the rings of Saturn have braids, but terrible (or worse than that,
>>dismissive) of events that occur involving consciousness. (Social
>>scientists are no better---they fall back on things like structural
>>functionalism).  I suggest its time for the social scientists to let the
>>logicians and mathematicians have a look at the data, and it's time for the
>>logicians and mathematicians to enter the real world and make an honest
>>attempt at trying to explain some strange phenomena.

Mathematicians and logicians per se have special qualifications to explain
phenomena.  Mathematics and logic are just about relations between statements
depending on general terms like "and", "or", "not", "for all",... completely
independent of the ontological and epistemological referents of the statements.

What you need are experimental scientists and magicians.  Actually some
scientists have addressed strange phenomena.  See Vic Stenger's "Physics and
Psychics" and Richard Wiseman's "Deception and Self-deception: Investigating

Brent Meeker

Reply via email to