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Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest
December 24, 2019 - April 24, 2020
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What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
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Wandering Towards a Goal
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Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
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How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
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It From Bit or Bit From It
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Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
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What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

John Crowell: on 3/29/20 at 21:36pm UTC, wrote Roger thanks for your essay. It is nice to see someone holding to...

Peter Jackson: on 3/24/20 at 21:04pm UTC, wrote Roger, Another very readable and enjoyable essay. I'd thought I'd long...

Roger Schlafly: on 3/22/20 at 6:58am UTC, wrote That's right, there are uncertainties about the present, the past, and the...

Martin Staveren: on 3/22/20 at 6:46am UTC, wrote We can make predictions although the present is not known with 100%...

Roger Schlafly: on 3/21/20 at 21:04pm UTC, wrote You make some good points. How can we make any predictions, as the future...

Martin van Staveren: on 3/21/20 at 18:45pm UTC, wrote Extrapolation: a car or aeroplane moves at speed V, so after a not too long...

Peter Morgan: on 3/21/20 at 14:20pm UTC, wrote You invited us on DarkBuzz to comment on this, Roger, so, ... Your...

Martin Staveren: on 3/21/20 at 10:03am UTC, wrote That is why I am a Bayesian, which I think is positivism. This means...


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FQXi FORUM
April 5, 2020

CATEGORY: Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest (2019-2020) [back]
TOPIC: Positivist perspective on predictability by Roger Schlafly [refresh]
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This essay's rating: Community = 7.0; Public = 4.0


Author Roger Schlafly wrote on Mar. 20, 2020 @ 14:03 GMT
Essay Abstract

Mathematicians rely on rigorous proofs to know what is true. By analogy, there are positivist scientists who similarly confine their work to what can be empirically established. Under such views, physicists need not hope to predict everything, just as mathematicians do not hope to decide everything.

Author Bio

Roger Schlafly has a BSE from Princeton U, and a PhD in Mathematics from U California Berkeley, under I. Singer. He blogs at DarkBuzz.com.

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Mar. 21, 2020 @ 04:54 GMT
Respected Professor Roger Schlafly,

Amazing essay and wonderful conclusion words.............Positivism is a legitimate philosophical view. Mathematics has a long tradition of sticking to what can be formally proved from axioms. Physics would be enriched by popularizing a similar view, so that we can more easily distinguish established knowledge from speculation.

I am not trying to persuade anyone to stop speculating about the interior of black holes, but to understand that positivists can reasonably argue that such heorizing has no known scientific value..............................

I request you see the axioms of Dynamic Universe model where there are no Blackholes. See “A properly deciding, Computing and Predicting new theory’s Philosophy”

Best Regards

=snp.gupta

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Author Roger Schlafly replied on Mar. 21, 2020 @ 05:55 GMT
Thanks. I don't have any quarrel with black holes. That is, I am convinced that large stars can collapse to the point where gravity prevents light from escaping.

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Martin van Staveren wrote on Mar. 21, 2020 @ 10:03 GMT
That is why I am a Bayesian, which I think is positivism. This means however that hypotheses for which there are no relevant data have nothing to do with physics. This attitude clearly conflicts with many worldviews, such as religions. Furthermore, many mathematicians do not care about usefullness; beauty should be enough. This attitude certainly The succes of the Standard Model (symmetry breaking etc) has attracted many mathematically inclined people. The idea that we can understand the Universe by pure thinking is 2500 years old, and apparently irresistable.

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Peter Warwick Morgan wrote on Mar. 21, 2020 @ 14:20 GMT
You invited us on DarkBuzz to comment on this, Roger, so, ...

Your statement that "The nature of positivism is to emphasize what can be known for sure, and to avoid speculation about other matters" seems to disregard the necessity to make predictions, which I take in mathematical terms to be interpolations or extrapolations from what is, so to speak, known for sure. Someone else could...

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Martin van Staveren replied on Mar. 21, 2020 @ 18:45 GMT
Extrapolation: a car or aeroplane moves at speed V, so after a not too long time interval T it will have traversed a distance VT. Such predictions are commonly performed: model based Bayesian Estimation. Is this pragmatism or positivism?

The formulation “known for sure” is unfortunate, as usually data are not 100% certain, e.g. a distance or speed measurement.

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Author Roger Schlafly replied on Mar. 21, 2020 @ 21:04 GMT
You make some good points. How can we make any predictions, as the future cannot be known for sure?

All predictions come with some sort of confidence level. I can predict that the Sun will rise tomorrow. Am I 100% sure? No, but I have a very high confidence. Maybe I am 99.999999% sure. It has always risen in the past, and there is good reason to believe that will continue.

That is about as good as can be done in science.

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Martin van Staveren replied on Mar. 22, 2020 @ 06:46 GMT
We can make predictions although the present is not known with 100% certainty. Plus the model is usually only approximate, e.g the noise is assumed to be Gaussian.The prediction is then not 100% certain, either. But it may be good enough. This is standard practice, e.g we assume linearity. That is why I feel that the theme of this contest is a bit weird. So there are assumptions and data uncertainties. If you do not even know the present with 100% certainty, then what is meant with “predictability”? This is somewhat confusing, as some answers are binary: does something happen, eg in a collision between elementary particles, or not? This looks like an exact answer.

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Peter Jackson wrote on Mar. 24, 2020 @ 21:04 GMT
Roger,

Another very readable and enjoyable essay. I'd thought I'd long understood logical positivism but your nuances and context were fascinating. I work hard on data driven analysis and not to have 'beliefs' but you've exposed that's not as founded in positivism as I'd assumed, as I apply that approach to poorly understood phenomena like the jet 'cusp' of an AGN (only room for a Mexican Hat potential not an old 'black hole'!

I also dive deep into QM and suggest a foundational error rendering it illogical (quntum spin wasn't required as Maxwell/Poincare already identified TWO inverse orthogonal momenta in OAM). Do those disqualify me? (not that I mind!)

And do we really know much at all 'for sure'? or do we fool ourselves picking some foundation? All good questions I too have raised.

But logic is another matter, and again I agree philosophy gets it wrong. Indeed I think I show it n badly misleads physics from foundations up, but I do hope you'll give me your view on that thesis I explore.

Great food for thought again Roger. Well done and thank you. A different slant but right on topic and right up there.

Very best

Peter

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John David Crowell wrote on Mar. 29, 2020 @ 21:36 GMT
Roger thanks for your essay. It is nice to see someone holding to “correspondence to measurements” as a guideline to judge aspiring theories. I would like your input on my essay. The essay’s theoretical projections correspond to “generally accepted” measurements for the visible universe and its important physical contents- Planck’s length and time, H atoms, Stars, solar systems, galaxies, etc. However, it introduces a very different process for the creation and functioning of the visible universe. The essay introduces a different beginning, a different progression, the same current situation and a different ending than current theories. As such it is metaphysical to current physics. It also changes the fundamental “unit” from an unchanging particle to the smallest unit of changing (C*s) and describes how quantities of C*s become the smallest Stable Self Creating Unit (SSCU). The original SSCU then self replicates which creates quantities of copies that self organize to become the physical world that we currently measure. In that progression, the process creates its own mathematics, its own self creating algorithms and “maps” them to the physical results. It creates its own mathematics and embeds it within its forms and functioning. “Amazing”. In this processing, as shown in the appendix of the essay, it determines the value in C*s between 0 and 1 SSCU and thus between the “real number quantities” of the processing.

In this Sucessful Self Creation case did it solve the “ continuum hypothesis” of mathematics? Also, the theory describes what happens in Black Holes and how they fit into the creation of the physical world. Anyway I would appreciate your comments as a mathematician and as a Positivist. Thanks John Crowell

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