Category Archives: science

Relativity as Informational Interdependence

Ever have the experience of sitting in traffic and believe that you are moving in reverse, only to realize a second later that you were fooled by the vehicle next to you moving forward? You were sitting still, but because you saw something moving away, you mistakenly thought you started to move in the opposite direction.

Two different senses may be at work here: your sight and your balance. Lets assume that your balance did not play any role in this little experiment (you would have been moving too slowly to feel a jolt). Your sight told you that you were moving in a certain direction (backwards) because of something you saw, say a bus pulling forward. Then you saw something other than the bus, say the ground, and you realized that your initial appraisal of the situation was incorrect.

At the point when you look away from the bus, you believe that you are moving backwards. Then when you see the ground, you believe that you are not moving backwards. You reconcile these two contradictory beliefs by deciding that it was not you who were moving backwards but the bus that was moving forwards.

What this illustrates is that objects require something other than themselves to be considered in motion. Without the ability to reference a ‘stationary’ system (the ground), it is impossible to make a determination who is moving and who is staying still.

Now imagine this situation was taking place in a very gray place. The only things visible are yourself and the bus on a gray background. Then you notice that the bus is getting smaller. There is nothing for you to use as a reference (no stars, no ground, no nothing) to decide if it is you who is moving away from the bus or if it is the bus moving away from you, or both*. The only thing you have is the information that you and the bus are moving away from each other.

I refer to the statement that you and the bus are moving away from each other as information and not a belief because it is much more certain than what I called beliefs above, namely that you were in a certain kind of motion, which quickly turned out to be questionable.

The information that you and the bus are moving away from each other is not your everyday sort of information. It would be inaccurate to reduce this statement to a conjunction (you and the bus are moving), which is incorrect, or a disjunction (you or the bus is moving) because you are only moving with regard to the bus. By claiming that either you or the bus is moving, it makes it seem that the motion of one has nothing to do with the other. The motion of you and the bus need to be mutually dependent upon each other, and a mutual interdependence is not reducible.

If we return to the everyday, we can say that you have the information that you and the bus are moving away from each other and you and the bit of ground you are on are not moving away from each other. Since the bit of ground we initially selected was arbitrary (we could have chosen anything, like another bus) it is subject to the same issues as the bus; we merely take the ground to be stationary for most purposes, but this is a pragmatic concern. Hence all determinations of motion (or non-motion) are instances of informational interdependence.

The result that relativity is part of a larger class of mutually interdependent structures is non-trivial. Minimally this formalism will allow us to specify exactly when the use of relativity is warranted, but more importantly it will allow us to identify and provide insight into other situations of informational interdependence. Cases of mutual interdependence are relatively rare as far instances of logic go (they can’t even be described in first order logic) and having such a well studied example gives us a head start on this phenomenon.

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* or if the bus is shrinking, or you are growing, or all of the above, but lets assume no Alice in Wonderland scenarios.

Posted in independence friendly logic, logic, measurement, philosophy, physics, Relativity, science. Tagged with , , , .

links, cause even though

i’m at the end of the internet, you may not be.

Animal of the Month: NYC Pimp

“What sort of person subjects children as young as 12 to beatings and a life of prostitution? An evidence list submitted in the case of Corey Davis, a Queens man who billed himself as “Magnificent,” might provide some insight. Mr. Davis, 36, is facing a minimum of 23 years in prison after pleading guilty in March to a federal charge of sex trafficking involving a 12-year-old runaway.

Mindbending

“… But then things went dark, weird, and creepy: one girl laughed, but then so did another, and then another, and then another, and then another.

After exposure, the incubation period from nothing to hysteria was short, from a few hours to a couple of days. There was no fever, no physical symptoms, just laughter and occasional crying between short moments of exhausted recuperation. When victims were restrained they sometimes became violent…”

Science

“This map was constructed by sorting roughly 800,000 published papers into 776 different scientific paradigms based on how often the papers were cited together by authors of other papers.”

(they’re all out of free posters now, but the file is available so you can print one for yourself)

  • Dancing Non-Newtonian liquid (also via core77) [1:32]
  • InvenSense: Gyroscopes and Accelerometers Compared
  • Check out this video describing the technology that is going to be used in the new Nintendo Wii Motion Plus. General relativity needs to be accounted for to accurately measure motion in 3D space (true 6 degrees of freedom) by using both accelerometers and gyroscopes. But perhaps the most interesting part of the site is the disclaimer at the bottom (my emphasis):

    InvenSense sensors should not be used or sold in the development, storing, production and utilization of any conventional or mass-destructive weapons or any other weapons or life-threatening applications as well as in any other life-critical applications including but not limited to medical equipment, transportation, aerospace and nuclear instruments, undersea equipment, power plant equipment, disaster prevention and crime prevention equipment.”

Culture

  • Nadia Comaneci, Montreal 1976 TEN!!! [1:06] (via plump plum)
  • Michael Bluejay | Crazy World of Michael Bluejay
  • Last but not least this is what I consider to be a throwback to vintage internet. We are talking a space background repeating image here people; I don’t think I’ve seen that since ’97. Plus something for nearly everyone: lots of links, e.g. useful information like an up to date guide to SEO, and Women Chess Grandmasters.

Posted in art, fun, internet, science, SEO. Tagged with , , .

Links, lanks, lunks

Interaction Design, Etc.

Science, Etc.

Aesthetics, Etc.

I’ll be gone for a week visiting my bro in the Southwest… at least y’all will have something to do in my absence.

Posted in art, biology, design, evolution, fun, internet, science. Tagged with , , .

Monty Hall Update

I wrote out an example playing of the Monty Hall Problem in Independence Friendly Logic as a game of incomplete information and appended it to my post here.

I also left an extended comment on Dependence Logic vs. Independence Friendly Logic about some of the tribulations encountered as a non-academic trying to get my grubby little hands on obscure logic papers.

Posted in game theory, independence friendly logic, logic, philosophy, science.

The Monty Hall Problem

[check out my more recent Monty Redux for, perhaps, a clearer exposition]

The Monty Hall Problem illustrates an unusual phenomenon of changing probabilities based upon someone else’s knowledge. On the game-show Let’s Make a Deal the host, Monty Hall, asks the contestant to choose one of three possibilities – Door One, Two or Three – with one door leading to a prize and the other two leading to goats. After the contestant selects a door, another door is opened, one with a goat behind it. At this point the contestant is allowed to switch the previously selected door with the remaining (unopened) door.

Common intuition is that this choice does not present any advantage because the probability of selecting the correct door is set at 1/3 at the beginning. Each door has this 1 out of 3 chance of having a prize behind it, so changing which door you select has no effect on the outcome.

In hindsight, this intuition is wrong. If you initially selected the first goat and then switch when you get a chance, you win. If you selected the second goat and switch, you win. If you selected the prize and switch, you lose. Therefore if you switch, you win 2 out of 3, whereas if you do not switch you win only 1/3 of the time.

So what has gone horribly wrong here:

  1. Why is most everyone’s intuition faulty in this situation?
  2. How does switching doors make any difference?
  3. When did the 1/3 probability turn into a 2/3 probability?

At the beginning of the game you have a 2 out of 3 chance of losing. Likewise the game show has a 2 out of 3 chance of winning (not giving you a prize) at the beginning of the game. Both of these probabilities do not depend upon which door the prize is behind, but only upon the set-up of a prize behind only one of three doors. For instance, an outside service (not the game show) could have set everything up such that both you and the game show would be kept in the dark: there would still be 2 goats and a prize, but neither you nor the game show would know which door led to the prize.

Now imagine that it is the game show that is playing the game. The game show is trying to win by selecting a goat. From this perspective, whichever door that was chosen is good: this door has a 2 out of 3 probability of being a winner (being a goat). Therefore when given the opportunity to change (after the outside service opens a door and shows a goat), there is no reason to do so.

Of course you, the contestant, are the one making the selection, and you do not want a goat. However, if you imagined yourself in the position of the game show at the beginning, as trying to select a goat, you would reasonably assume that, just as the game show did, you were successful in choosing a goat. When given the choice to switch, now that the other goat has been removed, it seemingly makes sense to change your selection.

In this case the easiest way to view the situation is in terms of how to lose, or by considering all the possible outcomes (as mentioned above). Though this is a guess, it seems that our first blush reaction to this problem is always to view it in terms of winning and this is the reason we do not immediately recognize the benefit in switching. We start out with a 1/3 chance of winning and switching doors doesn’t immediately seem to increase this percentage.

To answer how switching doors makes a difference we need to look more closely at the doors. The door that was initially selected has a 1 out of 3 chance of being a prize, and this does not change. If you were to play many times and ignore changing doors, then you would win 33.3% of the time. At the outset the other two doors each have the exact same chance of being a winner, 1 out of 3. So the other two doors combined have a 2 out of 3 chance of containing a winning door.

Now the game show changes the number of doors available from 3 to 2, with one door guaranteed to contain a prize. If you were presented this situation without knowledge of the previous process, then you would rightly put the chance of selecting the prize at 1 out of 2, 50%.

However, you know something about the setup: The door that was initially selected had a probability of having a prize behind it set at 1 out of 3. The thing behind the other door, though, has been selected from a stacked deck: Whatever is behind the door was selected from a group of objects with a 2 out of 3 chance of containing a prize (1/3 + 1/3). You know that the odds on this door are stacked in your favor because the game show knowingly reveals the goat: In the 2/3 case in which you have previously selected a goat, the prize is behind one of the other two doors. When the game-show reveals (and removes) a goat, it guarantees that the prize is behind the last door. Therefore switching doors at the end is equivalent to combining and selecting the probability associated with the two doors not initially selected.

If the game show did not knowingly reveal the goat, you would not be able to take advantage of the stacked deck. Imagine that you select the first door and then another door is opened randomly, revealing a goat. By randomly eliminating this door (and not looking behind the unselected doors) the door that was initially selected becomes unrelated to the present choice: Only by looking behind the unselected doors does the initial selection become fixed in reference to the other doors. Since no one looked behind the doors, some bored, but not malicious, demon could have come and switched whatever was behind the selected and remaining door and neither you nor the game-show would be able to tell. Therefore switching doors when a goat is randomly revealed provides no advantage because the initial selection cannot be related to the probable location of the prize.

Only when the contestant can fix the probable locations of the prize because the location of the prize is known by the game-show, is it possible to assign interdependent probabilities on the location of the prize and the previous selection made. The odds are then tilted in the contestant’s favor by switching away from the low probability initial selection to the door that has the combination of remaining probabilities.


The logic of this needs to be represented game-theoretically with the different quantifiers representing different players of a game of incomplete information. The game would run* like this:

Domain={prize, goat, goat}

Contestant Game Show
1. ∃x∃y∃z∀a/x,y,z∃b∀c/x,y,z(a=x & b=y & c=z)
2. ∃y∃z∀a/x,y,z∃b∀c/x,y,z(a=g & b=y & c=z)
3. ∃z∀a/x,y,z∃b∀c/x,y,z(a=g & b=g & c=z)
4. ∀a/x,y,z∃b∀c/x,y,z(a=g & b=g & c=p)
5. ∃b∀c/x,y,z(p=g & b=g & c=p)
6. ∀c/x,y,z(p=g & g=g & c=p)
7. ∀d∀c/x,y,z(d=g & g=g & c=p)
8. ∀c/x,y,z(g=g & g=g & c=p)
9. (g=g & g=g & p=p)

Line 1 is the initial setup of the prize game: the goal is for the contestant to make his or her placement of the prize and goats match the game show’s placement. Whatever is on the left side of an = will be what the contestant thinks is behind a door and what is on the right of an = will be what the game show puts behind the door, such that each = represents a door. If the formula is satisfied then the contestant will have successfully guessed the location of the prize.

Lines 2, 3 and 4 represent the results of the Game Show placing the prize and goats. Line 5 is the result of the first move of the contestant choosing where he or she thinks the prize is: the ‘a/x,y,z’ means that whatever placed in spot a has to be done independently, i.e. without knowledge, of what x or y or z is. Then the game show reveals a goat behind one of the doors not selected by the contestant. Line 7 represents the choice that is given to the contestant to switch his or her initial placement of where the prize is. Line 8 is the important step: since the contestant does not know what is behind the doors (c/x,y,z) it looks as if there is no advantage to switching. However, the contestant does know that when making a choice to reveal a goat in line 6 that at this point the game show had to know what was behind every door. This means that c is dependent upon b which was depended upon x, y, and z. With this knowledge the contestant can figure out that there is an advantage to switching because the selection of b in line 6 fixed the locations of the prize & goats and in doing so fixed the odds. Since the odds were intially stacked against the contestant, switching to the only remaining door flips the odds in the contestant’s favor, and is done so in this example. Line 9 shows that all the contestant’s choices match up with what the game show has placed behind the doors and hence she or he has won the prize.

* To do a better representation would require keeping the gameshow from not placing a prize anywhere by using a line like ‘x≠y or x≠z’. For graphical brevity I left it out.

Posted in game theory, independence friendly logic, logic, measurement, philosophy. Tagged with , , , .

Solved Philosophy

I was reading the philo-blogs and today (7 March) Richard Brown has taken issue with Richard Chappell’s Examples of Solved Philosophy. Brown holds that there is no such thing as solved philosophy (or problems are “only solved from a theoretical standpoint” and hence “involve substantial begging the question”), whereas Chappell happily provides examples that “are at least as well-established as most scientific results.”

Now there is something to be said for both sides: Brown is right when he says that all solutions are theory dependent and Chappell is right when says that we used to argue about certain things and now we don’t (don’t take this as my endorsement of his examples). However, this disagreement is just the two sides of one issue within philosophy of science: Thomas Kuhn’s scientific paradigms.
Thomas Kuhn stated that science evolves by scientific paradigm, that science works under one major governing theory until it is overthrown by another. For instance everyone worked within Newton’s version of the universe until Einstein came along, and now we work under Einstein’s relativity theory. Eventually it is possible that there will be a further paradigm shift away from relativity theory.

Now Brown, I think, makes the claim that philosophical problems (of the sort Chappell indicates) are not solved without question begging. Well, if Chappell is going for the sort of consensus that happens in science – which he looks like he is – then this is not a problem: All problems and solutions are determined within and by the overarching theoretical framework, the paradigm. This is to specifically say that there is no such thing as an answer to a question outside of some theoretical framework: some meta-theory always determines what sort of thing counts as a solution. Therefore Brown has conflated being part of a paradigm with begging the question. Begging the question involves assuming what you set out to prove, whereas being part of a paradigm merely assumes the general rules about what determines a solution to a problem when answering.

However, philosophy is not science, and Brown has a point when he says, “all we can mean by ’solved’ is ‘generally agreed to be true by philosophers/philosopher X’”. Now the paradigm cuts the other way: philosophy does not work by paradigms and hence there is no background framework on which Chappell can base his solved philosophy. Even if all the top philosophers of the day agree to an extent about a good number of issues, it only takes a Kant or a Wittgenstein to turn philosophy on its head. Even simple issues, what might be seen as obvious mistakes made only by laymen, can take on new significance. For example, many people believe that everyone’s perceptions of color are their own, that each of us can’t know what other peoples’ perception of color are like. Perhaps this is true, but personally I believe that it makes no sense to say that you have something if you logically exclude other people from having it (Philosophical Investigations #398) and therefore if you have color perceptions then I can have the same color perception. By no means should my view be taken as correct, but it should illustrate that there is nothing so simple as to be considered solved if all it has is a consensus.

So what of solved philosophy? Is it all just us shifting our assumptions around? The logician De Morgan recognized that his logic (the logic of antiquity until the mid 1800s) was too weak to derive the statement “All heads of horses are heads of animals.” With the advent of modern logic, the statement was derivable. This is an example of solved philosophy: At a certain point we had a problem, were unable to do something, and then later we were able to do it. If we want to solve philosophical problems we have to first find problems, phenomena that no theory can explain, and then find a way to explain it using the unique tools available to philosophers. Taking down bad theories and clarifying issues is a worthwhile endeavor, progress is made, but nothing is solved.

If anyone asks me about solved philosophy, I’ll tell them about the life and world-changing ideas that make philosophy amazing, not about all the bunk theories we had to go through to get there.

Posted in philosophy, science. Tagged with , , .

Computers, Intelligence and the Embodied Mind

This interview with Hubert Dreyfus (just the parts about computers: part 1, part 2. via Continental Philosophy) briefly outlines one of the major criticisms leveled against artificial intelligence: computers will never be intelligent because our intelligence is based upon our physical interactions in and with the world. Very briefly, our intelligence is fundamentally tied to our bodies because it is only through our bodies do we have any interaction with the world. If we separate our intelligence from the body, as in the case with computers, then whatever it is that the computer has, it is not intelligence because intelligence only refers to how to bodily interact with the world.

As Dreyfus says this problem is attributed to a Merleau-Ponty extension of Heidegger and the only proposed solution is to embody computers by providing them with a full representation of world and body. I don’t think there is generally much faith in this solution; I certainly don’t have much faith in it.

However, this bodily criticism is a straw man. Computers have ‘bodies,’ they are definitely physical things in the world. But what of the physical interactions required for intelligence? Computers interact with the world: computers are affected by heat, moisture, dirt, vibration, etcetera. The only differences are the actual interactions that computers have as compared to humans: we experience humidity one way and they experience it differently. So yes, computers will have different interactions and hence they will never have the same intelligence that we have, but that does not imply that computers cannot have an embodied intelligence. It only means that computer embodied intelligence will be significantly different than our own intelligence. Therefore the above argument against computer intelligence only applies to those people who are trying to replicate perfect human intelligence and does nothing against people trying to create intelligence in computers.

For example, light-skinned and dark-skinned people have very slightly different physiologies. Now I see the above argument as saying that someone of different skin color cannot have the same sort of intelligence that you have because their interactions with the world are inherently different. Sure, everyone experiences things slightly differently due to having different bodies, but to claim that this creates incompatible intelligences is obviously wrong: No one on the face of the earth would be able to communicate with each other due to everyone being physically unique.  Computers may be physically different to a greater extent, but this does not impact intelligence.

The criticism of computer intelligence based upon the need for a body is no more than subtle techno-racism.

Posted in metaphysics, mind, philosophy, science, technology. Tagged with , , , , .

On The Scientific View of the World

Many people have a “scientific” view of the world. This means that the world operates according to the laws of science, i.e., there are no mysterious forces that cannot be explained by some combination of physics, biology, psychology, economics etc. It is a mistaken view.

The scientific view of the world can be summarized by this formulation:

S) The world is governed by science if and only if, given a specified way things are at a specific time, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of natural law.

If you believe the scientific view then, insofar as it is about the world, the scientific view itself must be a scientific fact.

There two cases:

  1. The scientific view was discovered.
  2. The scientific view was derived from some previously proven scientific statement(s).

Considering the first case we must ask if we have discovered the scientific view. Unfortunately no one has yet found a theory of everything and therefore it hasn’t been discovered.

This leaves discovering the scientific view by taking our individual scientific theories and generalizing them to include everything. The argument is that we have many theories that predict many things and if we only had enough, everything would be determined.

However, our individual scientific theories merely predict what will happen. No individual theory makes the claim that it governs nature, only the statement of the scientific view above makes that claim. For instance take gravity: it says that matter is attracted to itself with a certain amount of force. Nothing about the theory of gravity limits nature to following the theory of gravity. It is likewise for every other theory: each makes a specific prediction but is agnostic on how to interpret this prediction. Science cannot tell us that it is fundamentally controlled by laws.

What is left, the correct interpretation of science, is that science is a method for making continually better predictions about what will happen. As soon as the jump is made to believing that nature is controlled by our predictions, then science has been left behind and the murky philosophical world has been entered. This is not to say that there are mysterious forces that cannot be explained by some combination of physics, biology, psychology, economics etc. (though there are and always will be) but that this belief is not scientific.

Posted in metaphysics, philosophy, science. Tagged with , , .

Consciousness Dilemma

I watched Dan Dennett’s Ted Talk “Can We Know Our Own Minds” yesterday and it reminded me of a problem I had with the study of consciousness. I am convinced a solution cannot be written down or said.

  1. Assume someone knows what consciousness/mind/divine spark/what-you-will is.
  2. If someone knows something, then it is part of their consciousness.
  3. If someone knows what consciousness is, then the consciousness has a part that contains consciousness.
  4. Therefore someone has a consciousness that contains consciousness.

Up until this point I am willing to grant that all this is possible. Our consciousness may be able to contain itself within itself. But could we write it down?

  1. If someone’s consciousness contains consciousness, then their contained consciousness contains consciousness itself and so on ad infinitum; this person’s consciousness has a self referential infinite regression.

We can’t write down or say something that contains a self referential infinite regress (without some form of hand-waving) and hence we will never have a solution.

I’d really like someone to come up with a solution to this problem. Or not. It is perfectly acceptable to me (if not better) that we will always have more to learn about ourselves. The issue then becomes to properly understand exactly what we are studying and accomplishing in philosophy of mind/consciousness/etc. or in neuroscience.

——-

in b4:

  1. The use of ‘know’ above is illegitimate: we can know what a car is without knowing all the parts and so the above argument is wrong for assuming that knowing implies complete understanding of all parts.
    • In the case of consciousness if we do not know how all the parts work, i.e. there is a black box somewhere that we do not understand, then we can’t say we understand consciousness. The mystery of the whole thing is that we always seem to make progress but the end is never in sight.
  2. It makes no sense to say that when we know something that it is therefore ‘part’ of our consciousness. I may know the average sale price in Amazon.com but that doesn’t mean it is a proper part of my consciousness.
    • The only alternative to saying ‘something is part of your consciousness if you know it’ is to say that things aren’t part of you consciousness when you know them. If you can explain how you know things while keeping those things separate from the consciousness, then more power to you. I don’t buy it.
  3. Perhaps we can’t know our own consciousness but we could know someone else’s, avoiding the regress.
    • If the person whose consciousness you know knew your consciousness, then this would return to the regress. If you disallow a person to learn anyone’s consciousness of anyone who previously learned their consciousness (or anyone in the chain of people who learned their consciousness), besides being ad hoc, it’s ridiculous that you learning something about someone else would prevent that person from learning something.
  4. Hand-waving is a legitimate kind of communication.
    • No.
Posted in mind, philosophy, science. Tagged with , , , .

Why Intelligent Design Is Correct

Darwinian Evolution is a theory of Intelligent Design. Darwin argues for Natural Selection by starting with ‘Artificial Selection’, a theory of Intelligent Design. When Artificial Selection is generalized to Natural Selection Darwin is entirely cognizant of and makes no attempt to remove the elements of intelligent design embedded in the theory. In fact, he recognizes that these elements of intelligent design are what make evolution by natural selection so compelling and he specifically exploits them in his argument.

The Theory of Artificial Selection, also known as ‘Selective Breeding’, begins with domestication and husbandry of animals. Many species have changed over the course of history as a result of humans choosing animals to mate. Humans did this to produce offspring with desired traits, e.g. cows that produce more milk or sheep with a fuller fleece. This practice eventually was expanded to include plants such as corn, wheat and rice. Artificial Selection refers to all breeding practices (both plant and animal) in which humans mate certain (select) organisms to obtain individuals with specific desired traits.

Artificial Selection represents a theory of Intelligent Design because the human intelligence designs and creates new organisms.

Darwin then turns to Natural Selection:

As man can produce and certainly has produced a great result by his methodical and unconscious means of selection, what may not nature effect? Man can act only on external and visible characters: nature cares nothing for appearances, except in so far as they may be useful to any being. She can act on every internal organ, on every shade of constitutional difference, on the whole machinery of life. Man selects only for his own good; Nature only for that of the being which she tends… How fleeting are the wishes and efforts of man ! and consequently how poor will his products be, compared with those accumulated by nature during whole geological periods.

Notice the heavy personification of Nature in this passage. Nature selects as a breeder selects: intelligently for the continued life of the species. Darwin compares nature to a breeder to exploit our understanding and acceptance of domestication and breeding practices as an underpinning Natural Selection. Hence Darwinian Natural Selection is derived from, and inherently is, a theory of Intelligent Design.

However, Darwin also says evolution works through a random process, apparently contradicting intelligent design. This is only an apparent contradiction though: if nature is intelligent it is more intelligent than we are. And if something is more intelligent than ourselves, we will not understand how it acts, i.e. its actions will appear random to us. Since we have to work very hard to understand the natural world, nature is smarter than we are and hence it follows that we view nature as random.

In conclusion, Darwin’s Evolution is a kind of Intelligent Design. Unlike other theories of ID, however, evolution is intelligent design based upon nature and not a supernatural agent. This reveals that both the supporters and opponents of Intelligent Design are arguing erroneously. ID’s supporters argue that the supernatural is needed to explain design found in nature whereas ID’s opponents argue that evolution is not intelligent design, and neither is correct. Personally, I prefer my evolution sans design, sidestepping these and other serious issues entirely.

Darwin likely knew all this when he placed this quote at the beginning of the second and subsequent editions of On the Origin of Species:

The only distinct meaning of the word ‘natural’ is stated, fixed or settled; since what is natural as much requires and presupposes an intelligent agent to render it so, i.e., to effect it continually or at stated times, as what is supernatural or miraculous does to effect it for once.

–Butler: Analogy of Revealed Religion

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As always, comments are highly appreciated (login no longer required!) . I apologize to my readers outside the USA for the recent US centric posts. I’m going to start posting some ontology soon (I will explain that Xmas post) and I doubt I could make ontology provincial even if I tried.

Posted in biology, design, evolution, philosophy, science. Tagged with , , , , .