Truefact

This is self-explanatory, and excuse the obscenity.

h/t: Don Prothero

105 Comments

  1. Posted May 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Lawl.

    • Rocky Morrison
      Posted May 19, 2012 at 2:05 am | Permalink

      Hilarious.

      Can’t understand them?

      Just believe them.(Since you can’t understand them.)

      Because they are Scientists.

      And Scientists would not Lie To YOU!

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted May 19, 2012 at 2:20 am | Permalink

        [Sigh. Even self-explanatory ideas fails to self-dumbassery.]

        No, they wouldn’t.

        Because other scientists would expose them.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted May 19, 2012 at 2:22 am | Permalink

        And with “to” I mean “before”. Self-evidently.

        • Rocky Morrison
          Posted May 19, 2012 at 2:33 am | Permalink

          Sure they would. And if you didn’t understand the new explanations, don’t worry.

          Keep the Faith! Things like funding, politics, and power don’t affect Scientists.

          • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
            Posted May 19, 2012 at 2:51 am | Permalink

            I see you don’t worry about “understanding”.

            Fine with me, but please do it somewhere else than a science site. You are polluting the thread with your inanities.

            [/emoting to a troll is senseless but sooo rewarding – sips his double espresso and goes elsewhere.]

          • Posted May 19, 2012 at 6:04 am | Permalink

            Or maybe you could try learning a few new things, improving your own ability to assess the claims.

            But that would be hard, and get in the way of sitting around gawking at all the stupid shit dumb people gawk at, I know.

            Dennis Prager is fond of saying one of the ills of atheism is that life becomes boring – he’s certain atheists sit around watching much more tv than theists.

            Ass-backwards.

      • Dan L.
        Posted May 21, 2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        Just believe them.(Since you can’t understand them.)

        Better yet, take a few classes. MIT will teach you physics for free on youtube.

        Oh, but it’s so much more easier to be ignorant and impugn the motives of scientists than to actually work to become a better-informed, more worthwhile person, isn’t it?

        I’ve never understood this attitude. All the stuff you could possibly want to know about science is out there waiting to be read. Your “argument” doesn’t really do anything to discredit scientists, but it sure does a lot to discredit you.

  2. Posted May 18, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s high time that we stopped thinking of “fuck” as an obscenity. At worst it is an expletive, which should need no excusing.

    • Caroline52
      Posted May 18, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      By “obscenity” I don’t think Jerry meant *inherently* immoral or indecent. I think he meant a potentially (for some readers) offensive/taboo word.

      Not all expletives are offensive/taboo words. For example, “darn!” is an expletive.

      If something is a taboo word in one’s millieu, one is going to have a small involuntary stab of disgust upon reading or hearing it, especially if it’s unexpected.

      Given a large and not necessarily homogeneous-on-taboos readership, where the particular taboo word is not part of the standard authorial voice, a warning lets us get ready to feel that little jolt rather than be caught off guard.

      I don’t mind the word, but there’s anotherr I do find offensive, so I can imagine how some others might react. I think the warning was a courteous thing to do.

      • Posted May 18, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

        I think it’s silly to react to words with pearl-clutching. Why should we grant words such power?

        UNLESS…the word in question is meant to portray a particular group in a derogatory way.

        Like gendered insults, which are supposed to be insults because the insulter is likening the insultee to a particular set of people. Those kinds of words are unacceptable.

        “Fuck” is a perfectly fine and neutral expletive.

        • Posted May 18, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

          Just be careful not to call Brian “Prof. Cox”.

          • Posted May 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

            ?

      • Nikos Apostolakis
        Posted May 18, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

        For the shake of getting along nicely perhaps each of us should make a list of all words they consider taboo so that the others will know what to avoid. Who’s going first?

        /ducks

    • gravelinspector
      Posted May 18, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      Obscene : something that tends to deprave or corrupt.[footnote 1]
      Does “fuck” tend to deprave or corrupt? It’s a perfectly good Anglo-Saxon word indicating the sexual act. I don’t see anything depraving or corrupting there.
      No apologies necessary.
      Given that the picture is of that pretty-boy pop star whose name … takes a few seconds to come back to me … Brian Cox (ohhh errr, Missus ; I feel depraved. And corrupted! Fnarr! Fnarr![2]), a Mancunian who pops up all over Auntie Beeb[3], then I suspect the montage was put together by a Brit. So the appropriate standards are those of contemporary Britain, where “fuck” has approximately the depraving and corrupting influence of the comma.
      Actually, have you noticed how a comma looks like a profile of a limp human male member? Now that is depraving and corrupting : I must go and stop my maid servant from reading any books that contain commas.[4] I gather that “Dirty Bert”[5] uses a lot of commas in his work. which are not obscene, and haven’t been in my lifetime.
      The picture has been around for a time. http://www.thegodlessheathen.com/post/2011/9/physics has it from September last year, though they cite a source on FaceBook. time-wise, that would be about right for Prof. Cox (yes, he is a real professor. UMIST? UCL?) to have been fronting a Beeb series of the “gosh wow isn’t science wonderful” variety. All perfectly fine PR and outreach and that sort of stuff, but no meat to it. So I can well imagine someone having broken out the paint program then after the 64-thousand’th trailer.
      Footnotes[1]Judge Denning, in his summing up for the jury at the “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” trial, around 1961.[2]A comic strip character Finnbarr Saunders (and his double entendres) ; much more likely to deprave or corrupt. Not for children. The Profanisaurus is a true mine of depravity![3] The BBC.[4] One of Denning’s foot-in-mouth comments after the Lady Chatterley Trial.[5]D.H. (David Herbert) Lawrence, according to my English Literature teacher who grew up in that part of the country.
      Oh, this one is amusing : http://www.thegodlessheathen.com/post/2011/11/my-god-has-a-hammer
      Picture – Thor carrying Mjollnr ; caption “My god has a hammer ; yours was nailed to a cross. Any questions?” That would make a good tee-shirt. And it reminds me to check up on how the “ning.com” people are doing. There are some SCIMATH refugees on there, apparently.

    • Rocky Morrison
      Posted May 19, 2012 at 2:09 am | Permalink

      The Obscenity is not in the F word.

      It is in the Utter Arrogance of the Poster.

      Propaganda PR like that, which is also misleading, is not going to help you.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted May 19, 2012 at 2:30 am | Permalink

        [Oops! Apparently I replied to a troll in the earlier thread.

        Fuck!]

        • Rocky Morrison
          Posted May 19, 2012 at 2:34 am | Permalink

          …snicker…

          Keep up the good work!

          • darrelle
            Posted May 19, 2012 at 5:25 am | Permalink

            The truth hurts sometimes, doesn’t it?

            In the interests of full disclosure are you offended because you are a religious believer, a champion of “framing”, a staunch accommodationist, other?

      • raven
        Posted May 19, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

        troll:

        The Obscenity is not in the F word.

        It is in the Utter Arrogance of the Poster.

        Now Morrison is just flinging insults. It’s part of his evolutionary programming. When apes get upset, they start flinging poo.

        Clearly, he is one of those that doesn’t understand science or much of anything and gets frustrated when he realize that, to other people, the universe is more than a gray blur.

        Here is a simple idea that a first grader would understand, meaning Morrison won’t. We scientists created modern Hi Tech Western civilization. We have taken humans from the stone age to the space age.

        Your turn to show flickers of proto-intelligence. What have the fundie xians ever accomplished? Other than assassinate a few MDs, sponsor xian terrorism, and make a few vaguely humanoid toad Televangelist leaders into multi=millionaiars, nothing much. They are just baggage holding our society back and being dragged along for the ride.

    • Posted May 19, 2012 at 2:11 am | Permalink

      Maybe Jerry was talking about the word “God”?

      :p

      • pulseteresa
        Posted May 19, 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        +1!

  3. Michael Sternberg
    Posted May 18, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    True, but I find the choice of medium somehow askew to the message..

  4. gregfromcos
    Posted May 18, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    Have to say I hate the whole calling religious people “not smart enough”. It’s simply not true in most cases. It has much more to do with “blinded by faith”, “willful ignorance” and “brainwashed”, than it has to do with them being “smart enough”. It’s just a phrase that I wish we’d avoid, because I don’t think it’s true. Not too mention the sheer number of Freethinkers who were formerly religious, also shows that it’s not an issue of not being smart enough. Because to level it against them, is to level it against a big bunch of us.

    • mordacious1
      Posted May 18, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      Well, speaking for Americans, I’d say a large majority of the population doesn’t know that much about physics, but not all of them use that as a reason for believing in a deity. The group that is using their ignorance to support their belief in god, is the target of this poster. I like it.

      • gregfromcos
        Posted May 18, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        Yes, and the situation you just described, has nothing to do with not being “smart enough”, it’s something else.

        I’ve just dealt with too many religious who have been brainwashed their entire lives to let their preachers think for them, because the preachers are simply smarter. The last thing they need is Freethinkers telling them they are not smart enough to deal with the “hows” of the universe.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted May 19, 2012 at 2:43 am | Permalink

      The poster is obviously having fun with their often willful ignorance.

      These are, as gravelinspector dug up, at least sometimes used as motivational posters for enlightened people, not demotivational posters for religionistas. So it isn’t always or, I would suspect, maybe not even primarily meant to give offense and/or making people think.

      It is meant to joke about a sad state of affairs. It is A Good Thing.

      The context for former religious would then be that they would laugh at themselves. I think it is a good thing as well, perhaps even better. [Disclaimer: Personally on-and-off religion during my childhood.]

      Added to this is the delicious fact that religionistas _are_ “dumber” as a group, as measured by IQ and/or education. So we should certainly not forget to laugh at that as well!

      • darrelle
        Posted May 19, 2012 at 5:39 am | Permalink

        Not to mention that people can be stupid about certain issues while being perfectly adequate about others. Teh stupid need not be universal, and the poster does not require a reader to think of believers as being universally stupid in order to understand it. After all, that would be stupid.

        If a person believes that low quality (in a literal sense) bronze age myths more accurately describe reality than the findings of modern science, well, that person is being stupid on that issue.

    • raven
      Posted May 19, 2012 at 7:04 am | Permalink

      Have to say I hate the whole calling religious people “not smart enough”. It’s simply not true in most cases.

      Factually, it is true on average.

      Fundie xians score lower than the general population on IQ tests and education levels. This has been seen in dozens of studies, one meta-analysis used 46 studies.

      Most of their seeming dull wittednes is due to voluntary ignorance though.

      They carefully avoid subjects that contradict their demon haunted world of make believe. Like science. The private xian schools and hordes of bible colleges don’t teach science for the most part but a religiously compatible fantasy cartoon.

      A lot of the fundie xian cults actively discourage their children from going to college. Because they know they will lose some to reality. A lot of fundies have never even seen a university and have no idea what they do.

    • raven
      Posted May 19, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

      It is a common and often made observation on the internet that the fundies seem to be really stupid. We see it every day.

      1. The trolls. Rocky Morrison above. Enough said.

      2. Look at the christofascist GOP candidates. Perry, Cain, Satanorum, and Bachmann. They were so dumb, the Tea Party had to nominate Romney, a nonXian. And these are their elites.

      My latest theory is that believing fundie xianity makes people unable to think, perhaps due to cognitive dissonance getting in the gears. Oddly enough there is a huge amount of data on this.

      To take one unfortunate example. Michele Bachmann has two degrees, one in law, passed the bar. At one time, she wasn’t stupid. Now she seems incapable of crossing the street by herself.

  5. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 18, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    After all, it’s not obscene in all languages,
    for example

    (Confession: I’m just trying to see how to quote a link in WP with a target that won’t get too huge if WP imbeds the darn thing.
    OK, here goes – wish WP had a sandbox or an Edit – apologies in advance if this goes wrong)

  6. Posted May 18, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE it! I think it’s a great poster! In fact, I should probably print it out and hang it somewhere visible!

  7. Roz
    Posted May 18, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the physicist eye candy

  8. Marella
    Posted May 18, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Brian Cox is the sort of person who makes almost everyone feel inadequate, a guy who became a rock star to pay his way through his physics degrees! Well he has his priorities straight anyway.

  9. RFW
    Posted May 18, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Interestingly, “fuck” may actually be a euphemism for some older word now utterly lost.

    In “Mrs. Grundy: Studies in English Prudery”, Peter Fryer points out that this is the ultimate fate of every euphemism: eventually they become as tainted as the word they euphemize, and in turn have to be euphemized by something else.

    I expect any century now, the Mormon distaste for “hell”, euphemized as aitch-ee-double-hockey-sticks, will lead to “hockey sticks” becoming an indecency and thus trigger the generation of yet another layer of euphemism.

    There is certainly something to be said for stopping this ridiculous linguistic process and turning back to the old Anglo-Saxon terms for procreation, elimination of wastes, and anatomical features. Call a spade a spade and be done with it.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted May 18, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

      Reminds me of the old joke ending with the foreman saying to the nun “I’m sorry ma’am, but my men believe in calling a spade a spade” and the nun replying “I don’t mind them calling a spade a spade, but do they really have to call it a fucking shovel?”

    • Hempenstein
      Posted May 18, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

      In re. the etymology, it’s been extensively studiedas reviewed here.

      Tony Randall (who I think died just before Wikipedia) would have loved the fact of that page’s existence. On one of his many appearances on Johnny Carson, he had earlier gone into the etymology of something, and then Carson asked him about a TV show of Randall’s that had recently been cancelled, and whether he’d do TV again.
      “No, absolutely not.”
      “You sound very adamant. Why?”
      “Because I refuse to subject myself to those cock-suckers again.”
      Carson sprayed what he was drinking, and Randall starts,
      “Well, you see it’s a perfectly good word, from the…” Whereupon they cut to a commercial.

    • gravelinspector
      Posted May 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      the Mormon distaste for “hell”, euphemized as aitch-ee-double-hockey-sticks, will lead to “hockey sticks” becoming an indecency and thus trigger the generation of yet another layer of euphemism.

      Sorry, but “hockey sticks” has already been taken as an euphemism by public school girls for some decades. As in “Ohhh, jolly hockey sticks!”

  10. abrotherhoodofman
    Posted May 18, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Well, for all his intelligence, the esteemed Professor Cox seems to be orbiting perilously close to our Sun… sans space suit, even. That’s gotta be a bit warm, especially for a Brit.

    Just sayin’.

    😉

    (Love you Brian baby!)

  11. KP
    Posted May 19, 2012 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    The obscenity is deserved by the lunatic religious believers at whom it is directed.

  12. Logicophilosophicus
    Posted May 19, 2012 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    Philosophers! Just because you’re not smart enough to know what the fuck they’re talking about doesn’t mean metaphysical entities don’t exist.

    • onkelbob
      Posted May 19, 2012 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      Bullshit! Just because you are able to baffle them with bullshit, (since dazzling them with brilliance is beyond your skill set) it doesn’t mean that the blithering idiocy you spout has even a grain of truth.

      • Logicophilosophicus
        Posted May 19, 2012 at 8:00 am | Permalink

        The logic was exactly the same as in the original “Physicists” argument. If one is “bullshit” then so is the other – that was roughly the point of my posting, though I wouldn’t myself have characterised WEIT’s point as “bullshit” or “blithering idiocy”. I think the logic is watertight in both cases.

        • Apashiol
          Posted May 19, 2012 at 8:45 am | Permalink

          Are the metaphysical entities as logically incoherent as the God entity?

          • Logicophilosophicus
            Posted May 19, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

            That’s irrelevant to the point I was making, of course, but it is an interesting issue, or rather range of issues. There are an awful lot of views about what “god” is (from Einstein’s “spirit manifest in the laws of the universe” to, say, Yahweh) and there are an awful lot of immaterial entities. Personally I believe that the trillionth root of pi exists, even though no one has ever calculated even a small part of it. I also believe consciousness exists, though Dan Dennett claims it is an illusion. I believe meaning exists… truth… So you’ll need to ask a more specific question.

            • Allen
              Posted May 19, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

              ‘trillionth root of pi’? Do you mean the trillionth DIGIT of pi? Yes it does exist since pi is an irrational number.

              • Logicophilosophicus
                Posted May 19, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

                Well, again it’s not really relevant, but I meant “root” (you couldn’t calculate “part of” a digit after all). I gave an example of a number (you rightly assume I have its decimal representation in mind) which is unlikely *ever* to be calculated – certainly no one has an interest in knowing its millionth, billionth or trillionth decimal place. We both believe it “exists” even so. In what sense? What does that imply about the meaning of he word “exist”?

              • gravelinspector
                Posted May 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

                (I don’t know why, but I can’t reply to Logicophilosophicus’ message ; no link.)
                Some years ago I was a volunteer calculator for the PiHex project, whose aim was to calculate the value of the 40-trillionth binary digit of pi, without calculating the preceding digits.
                So, since you’re thinking in base-10, than yes, you can calculate part of a digit. (I’m not mathematician enough to know if you can have non-integer bases for numbers ; I would not rule it out.)
                The project was over some 10 years ago, maybe longer. Meanwhile, the plodders (who calculate all the digits of pi from the first to whatever their limit is) are approaching the same region – I don’t follow the subject in detail.
                What use is such knowledge? We don’t know. One datum is that some mathmaticians think that the distribution of digits in pi should be random across the digits, regardless of the base you’re working in. I don’t understand their arguments. But with a postulate, one of the first things to do is to test it. For which you need … more data!
                Then again, such prodigies of computation are good bragging rights for “my supercomputer is bigger than your supercomputer!” pissing contests.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted May 19, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

                @gravelinspector

                (I don’t know why, but I can’t reply to Logicophilosophicus’ message ; no link.)

                It’s a feature of the WP software – it won’t nest more than about 5 levels.

      • Logicophilosophicus
        Posted May 20, 2012 at 2:27 am | Permalink

        I was well aware that decimal (and binary) places of pi continue to be calculated, partly because pi is an interesting number (a sort of fundamental constant of pure mathematics) and partly because it has been a tradition for hundreds of years. So I chose “trillionth root of pi” as a general example of an obscure and uninteresting number.

        The (perihperal) point was that a number never likely to be calculated is nevertheless admitted to “exist” though it doesn’t “kick back” as Dennett, I think, suggested real things should. So some immaterial entities are real (?)

        But the main point is getting buried: failure to understand is not evidence for the existence *or non-existence* of anything much(except, perhaps, “smarts”).

    • Nikos Apostolakis
      Posted May 20, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      +1

      Regarding the discussion below do you consider numbers or other mathematical “entities” to be metaphysical?

      • Nikos Apostolakis
        Posted May 20, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        *the discussion above*

        • Logicophilosophicus
          Posted May 21, 2012 at 1:06 am | Permalink

          To be honest, I like to do philosophy in plain language, and “metaphysical” in this context is not the word I normally use (if you followed the Sober thread you’ll see why I kept that terminology).

          This is a real can of worms, but here goes:

          Out-and-out materialists like to say that nothing exists but mass-energy and its four interactions. (Four? Well, inflation, dark matter, etc may require a revision – either to *explain* them or to *explain them away*…) Anything else they see as emergent. I remember seeing Eric Laithwaite many years ago, when the architecture of the DNA double helix was regarded as rather mysterious, demonstrating that the tensions in torsed rubber bands produce a double helix as a simple and inevitable mechanical result. I think Daniel Dennett sees the brain in that sort of way, but I think that he fools himself into believing that “consciousness is an illusion”. But that’s off track.

          Something like (let’s supersize it) the ten-to-the-hundredth place in the decimal expansion of the ten-to-the-hundredth root of (say) pi will never be calculated in this universe. (In the silly infinite multiverse it would be calculated infinitely many times, of course…) It doesn’t even have emergent reality. Nevertheless, most would say it is real, or *exists*; and, like any such numerical result, it is important that it exists. (Imagine an engineer unable to complete a calculation because one particular number was disallowed – that would be a broken universe.)

          Ultimately it’s a trivial example just to illustrate the reality of immaterial entities – some would use the word “metaphysical”. Read Roger Penrose’s views on Platonic Forms for a bolder view.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted May 21, 2012 at 3:32 am | Permalink

            I like the example of Mandelbrot figures – did they exist before computers allowed Benoit C Mandelbrot to ‘discover’ them? Obviously potentially they did, since they’re just a plot of a mathematical function. But they were not physically realisable. (It doesn’t hurt that they’re so colourful and have such apparently bizarre properties, all arising from an apparently trivially simple algorithm).

            • Dan L.
              Posted May 21, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

              The “colorfulness” isn’t an inherent property of the set, it’s a result of the methods used to graph it (it indicates how quickly a point was found to be in the set).

              Do numbers exist? It depends entirely on your definition of “to exist.” Unfortunately, philosophers are so shit at ontology that they won’t even have a proper discussion about that. They obviously don’t exist the same way as a table exists, or a rock exists, or a person exists (which are themselves all distinct senses of the word “exist”) but I’m still supposed to buy into the notion that they “exist” unproblematically.

              The worst part about philosophers is how they get all huffy when you point out they have no idea what they’re talking about.

              • Logicophilosophicus
                Posted May 21, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

                Wow. You must have encountered a lot of philosophers to enable you to draw that final conclusion.

                Meanwhile, you should notice an inconsistency here:

                ‘They obviously don’t exist the SAME way as a table exists, or a rock exists, or a person exists (which are themselves ALL DISTINCT SENSES OF THE WORD “EXIST”…’

                Philosophers are, among other things, people who try to make sure that language is used clearly. If they are shit at ontology, who do you suggest? Nothing very useful has rubbed off from all your hanging out with philosophers.

                Here’s an easy philosophers’ number problem for you. There are eight planets in the solar system. There are eight notes in an octave. There are eight white pawns in my chess set. It seems that somebody separated the eightness from some collection and happily found it in other places too. Does eightness (i.e. the cardinal number 8) exist?

                “It depends entirely on your definition of ‘to exist’.”

                Well, start with that rock made up of atoms comprising mostly empty space with a small bunch of fermions and bosons some of which are heavier than the atoms they are part of and so only exist for the fraction of a second allowed by the Uncertainty Principle and each of which is described by a wave function which allows it at some level of probability to be absolutely anywhere in the universe. Oh no, it doesn’t exist like that nice, solid, kick-you-back rock.

              • Dan L.
                Posted May 21, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

                1. How’d I know you’d be so easy to troll?

                2. Here’s an easy philosophers’ number problem for you.

                I have soda cans, a mug, a pen, a bottle, and a CD ROM all sitting on my desk. All of these are rounded shapes. Does “round” exist? Or is it a description of configuration of elements rather than a signifier for an object in itself? I’d lean towards the latter. A platonist might actually go so far as to say “round” exists. And despite the “ease” of the problem, no philosopher has resolved it satisfactorily.

                3. Oh no, it doesn’t exist like that nice, solid, kick-you-back rock.

                Who said anything about “kick-you-back-ness” being the essence of existence? Certainly not me.

                I will point out that your attempt to deconstruct rocks into something insubstantial actually helps my case. Those things you mentioned — the fermions and bosons — actually have/are energy. Now, yes, that’s an interesting ontological discussion in itself, but let’s stay on topic.

                I claim that everything that unambiguously exists has energy. That is, if you and I were to make big lists of all the things that we believe actually exist, the intersection of those lists would contain only things with energy. And, by your own argument, rocks have energy. But do numbers have energy? And how does the uncertainty principle apply to pure number?

                So maybe we can’t be as cavalier about the “similarities” between rocks and numbers as your “impressive” little deconstruction is meant to suggest.

              • Dan L.
                Posted May 21, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

                Here’s an “easy philopher’s problem” for you. Take a rock, a table, and a person. Cut each in half. How many rocks, tables, and people do you have afterwards?

              • Nikos Apostolakis
                Posted May 21, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

                Do numbers exist? It depends entirely on your definition of “to exist.” […] They obviously don’t exist the same way as a table exists, or a rock exists, or a person exists (which are themselves all distinct senses of the word “exist”) but I’m still supposed to buy into the notion that they “exist” unproblematically.

                IANAP but I’ve been thinking about this now and then (usually when I want to avoid thinking about the things I need to be thinking about). Ultimately for everything we know to exist we know it because of certain processing that goes on in our brain, because certain patterns of neural connections are formed or whatever (I’m not a neurobiologist either), and these patterns have some kind of continuity/consistency both in the brain of the same individual and in the brains of different individuals. In that sense, the numbers and other mathematical entities have the same kind of existence as tables, rocks, or electrons. Perhaps it will turn out that numbers have some kind of “second order” existence in the sense that the patterns in the neural connections (or whatever) that they triger are patterns of patterns. Maybe this idea or something similar has already been developed.

                It’s interesting that there are science fiction stories with aliens that have totally different perceptions of the material world but I’m not aware of any story in which the aliens have different arithmetic or mathematics in general—actually there are stories that have all their plot depending on the assumption that mathematical concepts are universal. This, to the degree that our “philosophical intuition” can be trusted and is reflected in science fiction stories, seems to support the existece of numbers.

                Unfortunately, philosophers are so shit at ontology that they won’t even have a proper discussion about that.

                This is a very general statement about philosophers. It would make more sense if “some” was inserted somewhere in it. Are all philosophers shit at ontology? And if all philosophers are so bad at it, who isn’t?

              • Logicophilosophicus
                Posted May 21, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

                [see below]

                Urban Dictionary: “trolling: Being a prick on the internet because you can. Typically unleashing one or more cynical or sarcastic remarks on an innocent by-stander, because it’s the internet and, hey, you can.”

                DL: “How’d I know you’d be so easy to troll?” I guess it’s just what you’re good at. Everybody should be good at something.

                DL: “A platonist might actually go so far as to say ’round’ exists.” By George he’s got it!

                DL: “Who said anything about “kick-you-back-ness” being the essence of existence? Certainly not me.” No. That would be just about every “realist” from Samuel Johnson to Daniel Dennett (they both give that specific example).

                DL: “Those things you mentioned — the fermions and bosons — actually have/are energy… I claim that everything that unambiguously exists has energy. That is, if you and I were to make big lists of all the things that we believe actually exist, the intersection of those lists would contain only things with energy.” Well, I’m not so sure. When a neutron, with a mass-energy of ~1GeV, decays it produces a (virtual) W-minus with a mass-energy of ~80GeV. Borrowing 80 times its own energy from nowhere is a bit odd. Do virtual particles exist? They only sort-of have energy. And then again, does the empty space between the particles exist. They’d be in a bit of a pickle without it. (Cue a little bravado about zero point energy – then remember that it was unknown and unnecessary in Einsteinian space – did space not exist in Relativity?)

                Anyway, how much energy is there in the electric charge on an electron? Oh… I guess the charge doesn’t exist, then. Or in its lepton charge. Hmmm.

                DL: “So maybe we can’t be as cavalier about the ‘similarities’ between rocks and numbers as your “impressive” little deconstruction is meant to suggest.” Surely I wrote that a number does NOT exist LIKE a rock.

                Anyway, best of luck with the trolling. As Lady Bracknell pointed out, every man should have an occupation. Even if it’s only being a…

              • Posted May 21, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

                What do you mean, “the empty space between the particles”?!

                /@

              • Logicophilosophicus
                Posted May 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

                The empty space between the particles is, among other things, the “r” or “d” that has to be squared to make the denominator in the formula for the electromagnetic or gravitational forces between particles. It’s necessary.

                It’s also what allegedly inflated shortly after the Big Bang. Guth thinks it’s necessary.

                It’s also the environment of particles in Special Relativity, I suppose.

              • Posted May 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

                But since all particles are smeared out throughout the entire universe, in what sense is the space “empty” and in what sense is it “between” them?

                /@

              • Logicophilosophicus
                Posted May 21, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

                The wave function has values at every point in space, but the most we can be sure of is that the particle has some probability of being in any place. If you think that some of the mass-energy of every particle in your body is spread out across the universe… I think you should have a shot at telepathy and telekinesis (I suppose it would provide a mechanism for homeopathy and the healing power of crystals too).

                I’m well aware that Feynman calculates the path of a particle as some kind of sum of every possible path (i.e. including a few circuits of the Andromeda Galaxy, etccccc…) but I don’t think that necessarly implies that such a path is followed.

                Anyway, I’ll consider my point proved – existence is of various kinds and not all are physical in a naively materialist way.

              • Dan L.
                Posted May 22, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

                Anyway, I’ll consider my point proved – existence is of various kinds and not all are physical in a naively materialist way.

                No one ever claimed they were. Naive materialism has been out of fashion for about a hundred years man. When were you philosophers planning on catching up with the physicists?

                If you understand this response, then you understand why I don’t have much respect for philosophers. Especially when they pretend to sound smart by quoting a bunch of physics babble they don’t actually seem to understand very well.

                When a neutron, with a mass-energy of ~1GeV, decays it produces a (virtual) W-minus with a mass-energy of ~80GeV.

                It’s almost as if the short time-scale of the interaction necessitates a large energy, perhaps because of some kind of law of nature. Some principle governing uncertainty perhaps.

                Borrowing 80 times its own energy from nowhere is a bit odd.

                What do you mean “nowhere”? Why odd? Surely it’s not odd when the universe operates according to natural law…I would think it would only be odd when it doesn’t. Typical approach of a philosopher though…”My horse sense is the default and any deviation from it is weird!”

                Do virtual particles exist? They only sort-of have energy.

                What do you mean “sort-of”? The fundamental forces are mediated by virtual particles — are you telling me there’s no energy exchanged in an instance of electrostatic repulsion? The whole point of positing “virtual particles” at all is because the energy really is changing as if the particles were there. The energy is the only part of this that isn’t “sort-of”.

                And then again, does the empty space between the particles exist. They’d be in a bit of a pickle without it.

                Does empty space exist? Once again, depends entirely on definition of “exist.” But no matter what definition you choose, some philosophers will argue yes and some will argue no, but all will agree that the stupid physicists don’t know what the hell they’re talking about (despite them making more progress on metaphysics in the last 300 years than philosophers did in the previous 3000).

                Anyway, how much energy is there in the electric charge on an electron? Oh… I guess the charge doesn’t exist, then. Or in its lepton charge. Hmmm.

                Well, first of all, I said unambiguously exist. I would think a philosopher would be able to pick up on these kinds of subtleties but apparently no, I’ll have to dumb this down a little for you. You see, when I say unambiguously exist — and even emphasize it that way to call attention to it — what I am saying is that some entities may or may not exist, while the existence of others doesn’t seem so much in doubt. I claim that all the latter have energy. There may be actually existing things that don’t have energy but that is really up to debate.

                So let’s talk about charge. First of all, it’s not clear to me that I can simply say “charge exists” the same way I might say “this rock exists” — charge is very different from rocks, don’t you think? No two rocks are alike, but any two quantities of charge are exactly alike. Surely that’s enough to be cautious here. So maybe I can speak of charge being a property of an existing object like an electron without any existence in and of itself — like roundness, maybe it’s a configuration rather than a thing in itself.

                Or MAYBE this is a terrible example that demonstrates how bad you actually are at physics. Energy of charge of an electron: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_potential_energy
                That’s right, charge has energy — the electrical potential energy of the charged particle.

                I guess it’s just what you’re good at. Everybody should be good at something.

                Too bad for you. Doesn’t seem like you’re too good at philosophy OR physics.

              • Dan L.
                Posted May 22, 2012 at 11:54 am | Permalink

                DL: “A platonist might actually go so far as to say ’round’ exists.” By George he’s got it!

                Already had it. All it demonstrates is how asking “what exists” is a silly, question-begging exercise unless we want to start off by talking about what we mean by “to exist”. Which philosophers never seem too interested in.

                For example, you ignored all my points about how “existence” even for “kick-you-back” objects like rocks and chairs doesn’t have a single canonical meaning.

              • Dan L.
                Posted May 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

                No. That would be just about every “realist” from Samuel Johnson to Daniel Dennett (they both give that specific example).

                Dennett may be a little more of a realist than I am, but he’s not as naive as you’re painting him either:

                http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2027085?uid=3739696&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=47699026064597

              • Logicophilosophicus
                Posted May 23, 2012 at 3:08 am | Permalink

                My initial and only point is that things exist which are not material in any simple sense. That’s well proven here, yet you bizarrely concede the point but bluster on as if you had refuted it. We haven’t even got to the good stuff – EPR, the Measurement Problem, Bell’s Inequality…

                Listen to yourself:

                “If you understand this response, then you understand why I don’t have much respect for philosophers. Especially when they pretend to sound smart by quoting a bunch of physics babble they don’t actually seem to understand very well. [Me:] ‘When a neutron, with a mass-energy of ~1GeV, decays it produces a (virtual) W-minus with a mass-energy of ~80GeV. Borrowing 80 times its own energy from nowhere is a bit odd.’ [Back to you:] What do you mean “nowhere”? Why odd? Surely it’s not odd when the universe operates according to natural law…I would think it would only be odd when it doesn’t. Typical approach of a philosopher though…”My horse sense is the default and any deviation from it is weird.”

                Compare Nils Bohr: “Those who are not shocked when they first come across quantum theory cannot possibly have understood it.”

                Also Bohr:”Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.”

                You continue to defend the indefensible: “Charge has energy – the potential energy of a charged particle.” Charge has no energy. It’s different stuff. Two separated charged particles are a system which can store energy, but the charges are not made of energy any more than a reservoir is made of water. Bring an electron and a positron together and they annihilate, producing two photons. The energy of the photons is entirely accounted for by the energy of ne electrons – the charge made no contribution.

                But, since you are one of those Wikipedia expertoids, I suggest you start with:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mind–body_problem

                and work from there. You’ll see that physicists have little agreement on ontology, and that physics and philosophy are proceeding in step.

                Happy trolling, man. I’ve already done your homework several times, but I refuse to carry your bag. You’re on your own now.

            • Dan L.
              Posted May 23, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink

              Charge has no energy. It’s different stuff. Two separated charged particles are a system which can store energy, but the charges are not made of energy any more than a reservoir is made of water. Bring an electron and a positron together and they annihilate, producing two photons. The energy of the photons is entirely accounted for by the energy of ne electrons – the charge made no contribution.

              Charge DOES have energy; as I explained, its exactly equivalent to the electrical potential energy of the charged particle. Compare a proton and a neutron in an electric field. Now change the electric field. One of the two particles has changed in energy, the other hasn’t. Why the change in energy? Because of the charge. (Maybe you just don’t have a very deep understanding of what “energy” means to physicists?)

              Tell me something while we’re on the subject. Has charge EVER been observed independently of mass? Once? In the history of the universe?

              The energy of the photons is entirely accounted for by the energy of ne electrons – the charge made no contribution.

              Not true. The energy bound up in the electric fields doesn’t just disappear (you know, first law of thermodynamics and all that). It’s also accounted for by the energy of the photons.

              My initial and only point is that things exist which are not material in any simple sense.

              My initial point is that this is inevitably arguable depending on how you define “exist.” This is still true. And in fact, most of my argument has been about how even objects which are “material in [a] simple sense” do not really exist in such a simple way. You’ve apparently been unable to follow my reasoning. Big surprise there.

              But, since you are one of those Wikipedia expertoids,

              Cheap shot. I linked to a concept to give you an overview because it’s convenient to do so, not because I regard wikipedia as the ultimate source of knowledge. But when you can’t win an argument on the merits…

              Re: Neils Bohr being terribly impressed with himself.

              Bohr said those things, I cannot deny that. but he was expressing an opinion. A sophisticated philosopher such as yourself knows the difference between an opinion and a fact, right? So I can disagree with Bohr on this specific point: that the universe should behave in a way that comports with human intuition. There’s no reason to expect that, but expecting it anyway is the only reason to come to the conclusion that beta decay is “odd.” From a human perspective, again, sure. From the perspective of natural science it’s exactly what is expected.

              Happy trolling, man. I’ve already done your homework several times, but I refuse to carry your bag. You’re on your own now.

              First, haven’t trolled you since my first post. I’ve put up legitimate arguments since then, which apparently you’ve either ignored or failed to understand. Done homework for me how? Telling me stuff I already know and doing a poor job of it? Failing to understand the concept of electrical potential energy and yet lecturing me on beta decay? You’re joking, right?

              To demonstrate that non-physical things exist you first need to say what it means for something “to exist.” This is the fundamental problem with these arguments, and this has been what I’ve been saying all along. Why are you having so much trouble understanding this simple concept?

              • Dan L.
                Posted May 23, 2012 at 7:56 am | Permalink

                Let’s try another approach since you seem to be struggling so much.

                “To exist” is a word in the English language. The meaning of words in a natural language is not fixed, and is determined by usage, not by reference to canon.

                So the meaning of “to exist” is fixed by how people use the word. How do people use the word?

                Usually, “to exist” doesn’t mean ‘is conceivable’. Most people would probably assent to the claim “horses exist, unicorns don’t” even though unicorns are entirely conceivable. So the conceivability of number is no proof of existence in a natural language sense.

                So “numbers exist” must use the word “exist” in a sense that is, if not alien to common usage, then at least nowhere near the primary common usage. This means that if a philosopher wants to claim “numbers exist”, she is duty-bound to explain what the hell she means. She’s not using “exist” in the common usage, so she must specify.

                Meanwhile, I may reject that the sense in which “exist” is being used in “numbers exist” is actually equivalent or similar to the common usage of the word “exist.” I can say, “Well, that’s fine for this technical discussion, but this concept of ‘existence’ is really quite distinct from what I usually think of as ‘existence’ — so I would not assent that just because numbers exist* (that is, exist in the sense of this discussion) that they actually have the sort of external reality that would usually be implied by the phrase ‘numbers exist'”.

                Do you think this is somehow an unfair view?

              • Dan L.
                Posted May 23, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

                Incidentally, I think the wiki article you linked is not really relevant. I don’t think quantum mechanics is really all that relevant to the mind/body problem. In fact, I don’t think the mind/body problem is even much of a problem.

              • Dan L.
                Posted May 23, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

                Reprising what’s actually being argued here:

                Logico is arguing that non-material entities definitely exist, full stop, no explication of what “to exist” is supposed to mean in this context.

                I am arguing that without an explication of what “to exist” is supposed to mean, such claims are inherently arguable. This is the case because such claims cannot be supported for a pure natural language interpretation of “to exist” — which would be unhelpfully ambiguous anyway. So I’m not claiming Logico is wrong on any specific example, I’m just pointing out that without specifying a meaning for “to exist,” any example Logico could adduce would be arguable. Note how this is not the same as arguing that immaterial objects definitely don’t exist, which Logico apparently thinks I have been arguing; he could only have arrived at this conclusion by failing to read or understand my arguments.

                Beta decay and Bohr’s philosophical prejudices are really pretty much irrelevant to what I am arguing. I regret letting Logico suck me into such unproductive discussion. In the beta decay argument, I should be clear I was playing devil’s advocate to some extent. I wanted to demonstrate that even the claim “charge doesn’t have energy” is itself arguable. My position is actually that charge doesn’t exist at all since it’s never been observed independent of a charge carrier with its own relativistic energy. It’s a property of a thing, not a thing itself. Similar to how I don’t believe that “motion” exists independent of “moving objects”.

  13. Posted May 19, 2012 at 3:43 am | Permalink

    Very apt and the obscenity is nothing near as bad as a suicide bommber or vile spiteful cleric. Not nearly as bad as a person who radicalises young or vulnerable people into believing that ending their life for God is a worthy purpose.

  14. Pray Hard
    Posted May 19, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    What obscenity?

    Cliff, you beat me to it. I just watched an old “debate” between Omar Bakri and Wafa Sultan. People like Omar Bakri and his beliefs are the real obscenities.

  15. Pray Hard
    Posted May 19, 2012 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Seriously, anyone who comes to this site and can’t handle “fuck”, should probably not be here to begin with.

  16. bbernardi
    Posted May 19, 2012 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    I don’t get the joke of this. Can someone please explain it to me?

    • raven
      Posted May 19, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      It’s simple.

      Almost all the arguments for the existence of the gods and against modern science and its findings reduce down to:

      The fallacy of argument from ignorance and personal incredulity.

      “Your ignorance is not proof that the gods exist.”

      or

      “I can’t understand how my foot evolved so the gods exist.”

    • Marta
      Posted May 19, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Huh. As most people know, explaining ruins the punchline. It’s my favorite trick when someone tells me a racist or sexist joke. Perhaps your intent here is the same.

      • Achrachno
        Posted May 19, 2012 at 8:56 am | Permalink

        But not understanding is fatal to the punchline as well. It may be dead either way. Might as well at least understand what was attempted, no? Your trick relies on understanding too, but for a higher purpose.

  17. Allen
    Posted May 19, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I love this poster. I would post that in my physics classroom if it weren’t for that ‘f’ word.

    Science rules!

    • Achrachno
      Posted May 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      Could you paste on your own legend minus the f word? It’d be more concise by two words and the meaning would be unchanged.

      • Logicophilosophicus
        Posted May 20, 2012 at 2:40 am | Permalink

        The meaning would be lost, I think. The idiom “I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about” seems to be intended to conjure up a for-God-and-country red-neck, whose God is mysteriously Anglo-Saxon of course, and whose aggressive reaction to science-based atheism amusingly contradicts the central tenets of the religion he professes. So, for me, no “fuck” no joke.

  18. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 19, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Why didn’t he say biologists?

    • Logicophilosophicus
      Posted May 19, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Because the fine tuning argument and the Big Bang are physical?

    • gravelinspector
      Posted May 19, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Because Brian Cox is (1) a pretty boy and (2) a physicist.
      If there were a similarly high-profile pretty biologist (hmmm, who?) then the same poster could be knocked up in a couple of minutes.
      Possible figureheads … Dawkins (“pretty” as in “he’s got a good face for radio”, and is he really a biologist?) ; ummm, …
      Suggestions?
      Oh, I’d put a mitochondrion or something in place of the Sun.

      • Posted May 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        Dick was quite as pretty as Cox when he was younger.

        /@

        • gravelinspector
          Posted May 19, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

          Well, if that floats your boat … you can have Dick ; I’ll console Lala over her loss.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted May 19, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

            Errm, two ‘L’s in Lalla. I mean three ‘L’s.

            🙂

          • Posted May 21, 2012 at 1:01 am | Permalink

            Lalla isn’t the ex-Doctor Who assistant I’d most like to “console”… (subconsciousness TARDIS reference, there!)

            /@ 

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted May 21, 2012 at 3:24 am | Permalink

              Okay, I’ll bite. Which Doctor Who assistant would you pick?

              • Posted May 21, 2012 at 3:39 am | Permalink

                Perpugilliam Brown.

                /@

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted May 22, 2012 at 12:35 am | Permalink

                Old school, eh? I’m more a modernist, for me it’d probably be Martha Jones. Possibly the only companion to leave the Doctor rather than the other way round, and she did it with good sense and style. (Though subsequent occasional appearances did her no favours. Mickey the idiot. Sheesh.)

            • gravelinspector
              Posted May 21, 2012 at 4:54 am | Permalink

              Refer to previous nautical analogy. Granted, there were several who would provide severe obstacles in a crawling race.

  19. Posted May 19, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on emmageraln.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 20, 2012 at 3:20 am | Permalink

      Umm – why?

      • Posted May 21, 2012 at 1:36 am | Permalink

        Why not?

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 21, 2012 at 3:41 am | Permalink

          Well, I can’t quite see the point. Maybe I’m missing something?

          • Posted May 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

            Point of what?

            • Posted May 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

              Reblogging it?

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted May 23, 2012 at 1:17 am | Permalink

                Yes. What’s the point of reblogging it when you don’t add any commentary or analysis of your own and (though I don’t know how many people follow your blog) people are more likely to read it on here anyway.

              • Posted May 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

                Ah… I see.

  20. Posted May 21, 2012 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on rowanwphillips.


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