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Why do we believe in math?

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  1. #1

    Default Why do we believe in math?

    If somebody were to ask me to explain why we believe in math, I would say because it is consistent within its own assumptions and because it is useful. I don't know how accurate that is. What is your answer to the question?
  2. #2
    I don't.
  3. #3
    Try harder.
  4. #4
    oskar's Avatar
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    I believe that to be a very poorly worded question.
    The strengh of a hero is defined by the weakness of his villains.
  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    If somebody were to ask me to explain why we believe in math, I would say because it is consistent within its own assumptions and because it is useful.
    Absolutely the case, in my estimation.

    The curious part is why it's so useful.
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by oskar View Post
    I believe that to be a very poorly worded question.
    Please explain.
  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    Try harder.
    I did, still don't.
  8. #8
    I could use an explanation.
  9. #9
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    What do you mean by "believe in?"
    Do you mean "acknowledge its existence," or something more?

    If you mean acknowledge its existence, then I think it's clear that we (each, as children) learned how to use math long before we learned to question if it was useful.

    Once we know how useful it is, then it's hard to take a question about whether it exists seriously.

    ***
    If you mean more than acknowledging existence:

    Why do we believe in hammers?

    Why do we believe in any tool?

    Why do we believe in anything?
  10. #10
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by a500lbgorilla View Post
    Absolutely the case, in my estimation.

    The curious part is why it's so useful.
    For me the curious part is the lack of clear answer to the question: do humans invent math or discover it?
  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    For me the curious part is the lack of clear answer to the question: do humans invent math or discover it?
    Invent, glad to solve that for you.
  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    Invent, glad to solve that for you.
    You may have solved that for yourself, but the arguments on both sides of this one are too compelling for me to rule against.
  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    What do you mean by "believe in?"
    Do you mean "acknowledge its existence," or something more?

    If you mean acknowledge its existence, then I think it's clear that we (each, as children) learned how to use math long before we learned to question if it was useful.

    Once we know how useful it is, then it's hard to take a question about whether it exists seriously.

    ***
    If you mean more than acknowledging existence:

    Why do we believe in hammers?

    Why do we believe in any tool?

    Why do we believe in anything?
    "Acknowledge the existence of" is a fine way of putting it too. I chose to not use that phraseology for a reason, but that reason is probably unimportant. Perhaps "why is it useful" might be a decent way of putting the question. Maybe.

    I've updated my answer to the question "why do we believe in math" to because it provides a framework with which we can coherently describe natural phenomena. We can't touch math, we can't see it, we don't even know if it exists, and yet it is possibly the most real thing in the universe. It's quite a strange thing. I just want to develop a better understanding of what it is we actually think about math because that would help inform other topics.
    Last edited by wufwugy; 06-12-2017 at 01:20 PM.
  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    You may have solved that for yourself, but the arguments on both sides of this one are too compelling for me to rule against.
    Savy should change his name to Certainty
  15. #15
    I'd say it's probably both invented and discovered.
    Last edited by wufwugy; 06-12-2017 at 01:26 PM.
  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    I'd say it's probably both invented and discovered.
    I think we can all agree that's definitely wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    Savy should change his name to Certainty
    Probably
  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    I think we can all agree that's definitely wrong.
    If it's an invention that coherently models reality to a degree, it's emergent from the state of reality and thus discovered. Saying it's one or the other might just be a matter of scope.

    In my estimation.
  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    Saying it's one or the other might just be a matter of scope.
    Agreed. Nomenclature, syntax etc obv invented. Underlying rules and principles discovered. If anything else, makes no sense to me.

    MMM where's a good synopsis of arguments for and against?
    Our brains have just one scale, and we resize our experiences to fit.

    You wake me up early in the morning to tell me that I'm right? Please wait until I'm wrong.

  19. #19
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    We can't touch math, we can't see it, we don't even know if it exists, and yet it is possibly the most real thing in the universe.
    I don't see how touch and sight are relevant, here. These properties are true of all ideas and emotions.

    Black holes fit the bill, too. I believe they exist.

    I believe either math exists or the idea of identity is total hogwash. Either everything is all one, or countability is a property of the universe.
    If it is meaningful to count things, then math exists.
    I cannot accept that I am actually you and it is only a fault of my our perception which makes me think I'm not.

    Furthermore, I posit that if there are multiple universes, then that is proof that math exists, at least in-between the universes (where there is clearly countable-ness going on)
  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by CoccoBill View Post
    Agreed. Nomenclature, syntax etc obv invented. Underlying rules and principles discovered. If anything else, makes no sense to me.

    MMM where's a good synopsis of arguments for and against?
    I haven't researched this in years. Start with google.

    On the one hand, smart people have to think long and hard to figure out new cool stuff in mathematics, so it seems like it's an inventing process, mentally.

    On the other hand, it seems like extreme hubris to think an alien species could come to Earth, we show them our math, and they're, "Who would've ever suspected there was order in the universe? Look at this, guys!" If it's just there to be sussed out, more of a discovery process than invention.

    Big names in mathematics disagree over how it feels in the moment. Some even posit spiritual guidance or epiphany.
  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    If it's an invention that coherently models reality to a degree, it's emergent from the state of reality and thus discovered. Saying it's one or the other might just be a matter of scope.

    In my estimation.
    This is another assertion which makes me think myself in circles.

    Math is cool and beautiful and fun whether or not it has anything to do with reality. Just like Tetris. or Chess, etc.

    Sure, the widespread knowledge of mathematics wouldn't be a thing if not for mathematics being neatly present in nearly all profitable endeavors (or how would you even know if it was profitable? U C wat I did, huh?). However, it would still be a thing. 'Cause it's super fun to try to poke holes in it only to discover it had you on a scavenger hunt all along. It's super fun to find an actual hole to poke in it, only to realize that it's only a hole because of this one assumption, and when that assumption is lost, this whole other world opens up.

    Math is inviting, stimulating and rewarding. Even if the profitability was removed, people would still play this game.
  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    This is another assertion which makes me think myself in circles.

    Math is cool and beautiful and fun whether or not it has anything to do with reality. Just like Tetris. or Chess, etc.

    Sure, the widespread knowledge of mathematics wouldn't be a thing if not for mathematics being neatly present in nearly all profitable endeavors (or how would you even know if it was profitable? U C wat I did, huh?). However, it would still be a thing. 'Cause it's super fun to try to poke holes in it only to discover it had you on a scavenger hunt all along. It's super fun to find an actual hole to poke in it, only to realize that it's only a hole because of this one assumption, and when that assumption is lost, this whole other world opens up.

    Math is inviting, stimulating and rewarding. Even if the profitability was removed, people would still play this game.
    Given this, do you think it is the case that mathematics models reality to a degree and thus it is appropriate to think of mathematics as a real thing -- even if abstract or metaphysical -- regarding reality?
  23. #23
    "Discovered" makes more sense to me than "invented." Like, if we hadn't come along and starting counting on our fingers and toes, there would be no maths? Meh. There might not be maths textbooks, but there would still be maths.

    An epiphany doesn't imply an invention. By definition, an epiphany means you just realised (discovered) something.

    Somewhere out there are a bunch of equations that no-one has discovered yet, but which are invariably true. Even something like 13478342470 + 234890584325 might never have been calculated, but I would hardly say if I solved it, that would make me an "inventor" of maths.

    p.s. The exception to the rule would be Ong, who does invent his own maths.
  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    Given this, do you think it is the case that mathematics models reality to a degree and thus it is appropriate to think of mathematics as a real thing -- even if abstract or metaphysical -- regarding reality?
    What do you mean by 'models reality'? The maths doesn't model anything. It's the people applying it that are doing the modeling.

    (There is a related philosophical question about whether scientific models are meant to approximate the truth or capture it, but don't think that's what you meant.)
  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Poopadoop View Post
    What do you mean by 'models reality'? The maths doesn't model anything. It's the people applying it that are doing the modeling.

    (There is a related philosophical question about whether scientific models are meant to approximate the truth or capture it, but don't think that's what you meant.)
    I mean something along these lines: the equation 2 + 2 = 4 is a mathematical framework that models reality, like, say, when we have 2 and 2 apples. Regardless, the terminology I chose might not be appropriate. Perhaps what I mean to say is that mathematics provides a framework with which reality can be coherently described.
  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    I mean something along these lines: the equation 2 + 2 = 4 is a mathematical framework that models reality, like, say, when we have 2 and 2 apples. Regardless, the terminology I chose might not be appropriate.
    Ah, gotcha.

    But I still wouldn't say it 'models reality' because the word 'model' suggests some kind of abstract representation that doesn't necessarily capture the full truth (to me at least). In that sense math doesn't 'model' reality it just 'is' reality.


    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    Perhaps what I mean to say is that mathematics provides a framework with which reality can be coherently described.
    I think it's us who provide the framework and maths is the tool we use to do so, but this may just be a rephrasing of what you said.
  27. #27
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    Given this, do you think it is the case that mathematics models reality to a degree and thus it is appropriate to think of mathematics as a real thing -- even if abstract or metaphysical -- regarding reality?
    Argh. "to a degree..." Sure... to a degree. What have we communicated to each other, here?

    Some math is used to describe reality, but much more math is sets of logically consistent statements. Goedel's Incompleteness Theorems suggest there will always be true statements within any robust logical framework which are not supported by any finite set of axioms within the framework. Assuming reality is of finite complexity, then math will always have true statements to make which are beyond any axioms which are related to reality.

    I can prevaricate enough to say that, ultimately countability is the fundamental requirement for math (the math I am familiar with, at least). I can accept that reality has to provide something to be counted as a seed of this proof that math exists. It's the root of my (albeit silly) "math between the universes" argument. I like saying math between the universes.

    Ultimately, though, I'd say that math's relationship with reality ends there. Furthermore, the actual existence of countable somethings isn't entirely relevant, it's just a comfortable proof. Math already starts with the axiom, suppose stuffs can be ordered into an arrangement, and the ordering is deterministic, then we can name the elements of the ordering and talk about them. Lets call the first ordering position, "1," and the next, "2," ... Whatever. It's all symbols for the abstraction of this concept of multiple identifiable somethings.

    A number isn't real, or in any way tied to reality. A number is a symbol for the concept of a position in an ordered arrangement. We happen to find all sorts of ways to describe reality with numbers, but often we do so with moderate to passing ignorance and the numbers we say are the model are later shown to be not the right numbers. *sigh* The model is made by humans. We are playing a game with incomplete information, and we update our models whenever new information is brought to light.
  28. #28
    Wuf rather than trying to get information out of people in a certain way why don't you just ask the question you really want to ask. I'd be much more inclined to give some better* answers and feel like this is going somewhere that way.

    *Though I have not said anything I disagree with in this thread.
  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Poopadoop View Post
    p.s. The exception to the rule would be Ong, who does invent his own maths.
    I know a lot* of Maths professors that would argue their job is to invent new maths.

    *relative
  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    Wuf rather than trying to get information out of people in a certain way why don't you just ask the question you really want to ask. I'd be much more inclined to give some better* answers and feel like this is going somewhere that way.

    *Though I have not said anything I disagree with in this thread.
    The question I asked is the one I wanted to ask. I also want to ask other questions, just starting with the one I asked. We've gotten some meaningful input so far. I'll probably be adding more soon.
  31. #31
    The key reason I became atheist is because I found the argument that any known religious ideas are not demonstrated by science. Yet, it has recently come to my attention that this is probably the wrong way of looking at religious ideas. The reason is because they are metaphysical in nature, and it appears that science can't actually tell us much about them. So, I wanted to look at how people typically view other metaphysical things. This brings us to numbers*. Numbers are possibly the most "true" thing humans have an idea about with any sense of objective and fundamental nature of reality. So, I want to better understand exactly what that idea is, and then apply those same rules to spiritual and religious ideas. For example if we can say that numbers are a fundamental truth to existence (which we might not be able to say) because they provide a framework of coherent description of natural phenomena, in my estimation it is appropriate to say that a particular religious idea would be a fundamental truth to existence if it also provides a framework of coherent description of natural phenomena. Granted, there may be some fatal flaw somewhere in there, and even if there isn't I have a feeling that any non-numbers framework would be far too open to interpretation, but still I want to give the idea a go.

    *Initially I said "mathematics", but derived from what MMM said, it appears that it might be more appropriate to think in terms of numbers instead of math.
  32. #32
    I thought so, see my previous answers.

    It's all bollocks and there isn't some fundamental truth or meaning to everything that you're going to uncover. If you were attempting to understand this stuff on a level to get ahead in some way and use that shit to exploit I could get behind it but I don't think that is the case.
    Last edited by Savy; 06-13-2017 at 07:00 PM.
  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    I thought so, see my previous answers.
    You'd have to provide answers then.

    If you were attempting to understand this stuff on a level to get ahead in some way and use that shit to exploit I could get behind it but I don't think that is the case.
    Why assume that isn't what I'm doing? It's about half that and about half I like to actually understand things instead of tricking myself into believing things that are wrong.

    I think that religious ideas are emergent from human biology and psychology -- or perhaps from consciousness itself -- but I would like to not simply assume it the way most atheists do. You learn by attacking what you believe.
  34. #34
    Course you do because you have dog in the fight and just realising it's all bullshit isn't enough.

    What is important about humans is that we like to think about things and more than just thinking about things we like to be able to answer things.

    There are two things to realise

    1 - Taking a position of not knowing is a position of weakness, this is bad because it's hard to rally behind which in the past it results in being wiped out or at the very least taking a lower position in society.

    2 - Of every religion that has existed most don't exist now. One didn't start and win. If you want to look at the one that is winning and draw conclusions you need to really understand survivorship bias. Thinking things like storytelling are special to any sect is madness it's how we have conveyed information. It's an asset to our species not to any religion.

    As I'm sure I've said before atheism is a bullshit label everyone would take the position of agnostic atheist (horrible term) if we wanted to take the truth approach. I don't know but as a result of that I'm not going to believe in random shit for the sake of it.
    Last edited by Savy; 06-13-2017 at 08:44 PM.
  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    You'd have to provide answers then.
    Can I not take a note from religious teaching and just say vague shit to let people draw their own understanding? The only difference is mine takes some logic to find what I'm talking about rather than being open ended shit we can all be happy with.
  36. #36
    Still haven't answered the question.

    As for your concerns, you're speaking to the choir. I already believe pretty much the same thing you do. I just have less certainty about my assumptions. Also, keep in mind that most of what it may seem I'm talking about on the surface, I'm not. This is possibly because words like "religious" unleash preconceptions. I'm not talking about religions specifically, but something more like the nature of consciousness or the nature of being. Religious ideas just happen to be one of the few vessels (sometimes the only vessel) through which people attempt to examine metaphysical elements of life. Those who discard them (postmodernists) use some pretty awful logic to do so. It doesn't mean they're wrong, but it does signal the wisdom in further examination.
  37. #37
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    I know a lot* of Maths professors that would argue their job is to invent new maths.

    *relative
    This sounds like BS.

    Like... how many math professors are we talking, here?

    Have you directly asked all of them this question and gotten only one answer?
    Or did you ask, like a whole lot* of math professors and only a lot* of them would argue with you?

    *relative
  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    This sounds like BS.

    Like... how many math professors are we talking, here?

    Have you directly asked all of them this question and gotten only one answer?
    Or did you ask, like a whole lot* of math professors and only a lot* of them would argue with you?

    *relative
    It's relative in the fact that I know a lot of maths lecturers/professors/readers/etc compared to the average person. To you probably not* maybe go and ask some. If I was you I probably wouldn't, comes across a little derogatory.

    Also your funny bit with asterisks doesn't make logical sense.

    *physicists don't count.

    What would you say the point of their job was?
    Last edited by Savy; 06-13-2017 at 11:39 PM.
  39. #39
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    It sounds like wuf is trying to get at a core question of why do we believe anything and how do we justify those beliefs?
    Maybe with the deeper question: are there things worth believing that have always been things which people believe?

    It's always murky at the bottom.
    Bear with me:
    I saw some YouTube video with Bill Nye going through some evolution-denying / creationism "museum" with a religious creationist giving him a tour. The tour guy kept trying to say that Bill believes in evolution because he made up his mind to believe in evolution, then sought data to verify his assertion. Bill kept arguing that he made no decision until he was presented with evidence which favored one argument or model over the other.
    OK:
    So the problem I have is that, if the creationist guy was clever, he would have said something like, "So you decided that evidence leads you to believe things. What led you to believe in evidence?"

    You see? It's tricky to answer. Ultimately, if you keep asking why anyone believes anything, eventually that well dries up... so to speak.
  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    You see? It's tricky to answer. Ultimately, if you keep asking why anyone believes anything, eventually that well dries up... so to speak.
    So don't believe in shit until it lets you get an edge in life? If you ask me (no one ever does understandably) what my thoughts are on things like the big bang etc I come to the conclusion that they probably aren't right they are just much more right than everything else. Lots of very ITK scientists have problems with the big bang, or pick from a list of other long theories, yet that doesn't mean you can believe in any old shit to begin with.

    It's very important to remember that the scientific community is their own little group of self jerking off wankers too. Not just religion. Anyone who spends their whole life on something and is shown to be wrong is going to be pretty cunty it just so happens that science has a way of moving forward to more correct* answers, religion, spirits, don't.

    It also isn't an excuse to reject all the other really good stuff because ohh that's science therefore all science must not be true.

    *More correct as in more usable for society not necessarily objective truth that's a whole other ball game.
    Last edited by Savy; 06-13-2017 at 11:52 PM.
  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    It's relative in the fact that I know a lot of maths lecturers/professors/readers/etc compared to the average person.
    IF you're not willing to directly enumerate the math professors with which you've spoken on this topic and how many of them argued this with you, then you're still blowing hot air.

    I've read scholarly articles on this subject, and even if all the math professors you asked argued this side of it, it's still not representative of the wider community of mathematicians.

    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    To you probably not* maybe go and ask some. If I was you I probably wouldn't, comes across a little derogatory.

    *physicists don't count.
    What is this?
    Do it, no don't do it, 'cause NERD!

    You're weird
    ...
    and still talking BS.

    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    Also your funny bit with asterisks doesn't make logical sense.
    a whole lot > a lot
    LDO

    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    What would you say the point of their job was?
    None of my business.
  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post

    I've read scholarly articles on this subject, and even if all the math professors you asked argued this side of it, it's still not representative of the wider community of mathematicians.
    I think the fact that I bring light to the bold being true means I clearly am not stating that the bold is true. What you're actually getting at is whether or not they think it's inventing or discovering, which I was getting at tongue in cheek that they have all said inventing. I'd put this number at about 5. This is from their own mouths, no guiding questions to lead them to a certain word.

    Good for you having read things though, link things if you like.

    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    What is this?
    Do it, no don't do it, 'cause NERD!
    No you're misunderstanding. Please do it. I want you to. I just also like you enough to point out that you'll come across badly doing so and I know that type of thing isn't your strong suit.

    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    a whole lot > a lot
    LDO


    None of my business.
    You grasp on English isn't enough to back up things with LDO. And yeah I know it isn't.
  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    So don't believe in shit until it lets you get an edge in life?
    I said nothing of the sort. I'm not telling anyone what to believe. I'm looking at the struggle to understand belief, and it's importance to humans.

    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    If you ask me (no one ever does understandably) what my thoughts are on things like the big bang etc I come to the conclusion that they probably aren't right they are just much more right than everything else. Lots of very ITK scientists have problems with the big bang, or pick from a list of other long theories, yet that doesn't mean you can believe in any old shit to begin with.
    Science doesn't make "facts" in the way that math does. Having problems with scientific theories is a core aspect of being a scientist. We're comfortable with some ideas and not at all comfortable with others... and we don't overlap one to another. ALL of our models are incomplete. It's just a matter of how deeply you dig past what "seems reasonable" to get to things that truly aren't well explained.

    @ bold: You can definitely believe any old shit to begin, in the middle, and to end with. People are idiots. Self included. We believe all kinds of bone-headed things. Belief is murky, and inconsistency in a belief system is often not a fatal error.

    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    It's very important to remember that the scientific community is their own little group of self jerking off wankers too. Not just religion. Anyone who spends their whole life on something and is shown to be wrong is going to be pretty cunty it just so happens that science has a way of moving forward to more correct* answers, religion, spirits, don't.

    It also isn't an excuse to reject all the other really good stuff because ohh that's science therefore all science must not be true.

    *More correct as in more usable for society not necessarily objective truth that's a whole other ball game.
    Yeah. Point? Scientists hang out together because they agree about the utility of scientific method. They further clump into groups of chemists and physicists and engineers, etc. Then further clump into specializations, some of which can span an entire campus's science efforts. This certainly established a group-think tendency, and to a large extent, that's the goal. Sometimes it's detrimental to creative solutions, though.
  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    You grasp on English isn't enough to back up things with LDO.

    I'd think you, of all people, would see the humor in me using that trite abbreviation used by kids and idiots in pointing out something ridiculously arbitrary.
  45. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    I said nothing of the sort. I'm not telling anyone what to believe. I'm looking at the struggle to understand belief, and it's importance to humans.


    Science doesn't make "facts" in the way that math does. Having problems with scientific theories is a core aspect of being a scientist. We're comfortable with some ideas and not at all comfortable with others... and we don't overlap one to another. ALL of our models are incomplete. It's just a matter of how deeply you dig past what "seems reasonable" to get to things that truly aren't well explained.

    @ bold: You can definitely believe any old shit to begin, in the middle, and to end with. People are idiots. Self included. We believe all kinds of bone-headed things. Belief is murky, and inconsistency in a belief system is often not a fatal error.


    Yeah. Point? Scientists hang out together because they agree about the utility of scientific method. They further clump into groups of chemists and physicists and engineers, etc. Then further clump into specializations, some of which can span an entire campus's science efforts. This certainly established a group-think tendency, and to a large extent, that's the goal. Sometimes it's detrimental to creative solutions, though.
    Sorry none of my post was intended to disagree with things you said. I expected you to agree with everything I said to a fairly strong degree and you did. It was more just pointing things out that maybe aren't clear to others.

    The don't believe in shit until it gives you an edge is actually something I believe in and am pushing. I don't think it's correct/true just a good exploitative measure to take in life. Pretty open to interpretation though I suppose.
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post

    I'd think you, of all people, would see the humor in me using that trite abbreviation used by kids and idiots in pointing out something ridiculously arbitrary.
    More so just bad editing on my part, I'd made a funny post (or so I thought, it wasn't) using QED and the such. Still a point worth making (i.e. your post still doesn't make sense due to English) but ye my bad. It comes across more so dickish than I had planned.

    Strangely enough you might have been in the few that did find it funny. I juts didn't want to have to explain and have poophead attacking me. #LIBERALCENSORSHIP
    Last edited by Savy; 06-14-2017 at 12:21 AM.
  46. #46
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    On inventing vs. discovering... Fine... I'll look into it. You're the 2nd person to ask.
  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    It sounds like wuf is trying to get at a core question of why do we believe anything and how do we justify those beliefs?
    Maybe with the deeper question: are there things worth believing that have always been things which people believe?
    It's a good question. The best answer I can come up with (stolen from Jordan Peterson) is that which has led to reproduction. In the human scope, even the organism scope, this has limits. However, it might be applicable logic to existence itself. For example, a mode of being of a quantum particle that doesn't lead to survivability of its system can probably be thought of as unworthy since it is an elimination of itself, roughly speaking.

    I saw some YouTube video with Bill Nye going through some evolution-denying / creationism "museum" with a religious creationist giving him a tour. The tour guy kept trying to say that Bill believes in evolution because he made up his mind to believe in evolution, then sought data to verify his assertion. Bill kept arguing that he made no decision until he was presented with evidence which favored one argument or model over the other.
    OK:
    So the problem I have is that, if the creationist guy was clever, he would have said something like, "So you decided that evidence leads you to believe things. What led you to believe in evidence?"
    An interesting thing is that there is ample evidence that gods exist.....in peoples' minds (and lives/actions). Something I'm really hung up on is that abstract, metaphysical ideas are real in that they are conceptualized, and a conceptualization is a real thing. Given our nearly non-existent understanding of existence or consciousness, it can be the case that a thought somebody has in his head is as true as an asteroid landing on dinosaurs. I don't know what to make of any of this.
  48. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    On inventing vs. discovering... Fine... I'll look into it. You're the 2nd person to ask.
    The funny thing is if you can ask it in a non-bias way I imagine most people would say inventing in terms of what they do for their job but when quizzed on the whole invent/discover debate would say discover.

    That'd be a quirk of language than anything else though. I 100% agree most mathematicians think maths has a more divine purpose than it actually does.
  49. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    science has a way of moving forward to more correct* answers, religion, spirits, don't.
    They both move forward in the sense you provide, as well as they occupy mostly different space. Fundamentalism has made a big mistake, in my estimation, by treating religious ideas as scientifically viable. They're not and they never really have been. Religious ideas have never really been about the physical world but about the metaphysical world. They attempt to describe the unknown, at least as far as it interacts with human experience. Science has made less stuff unknown, but it has no answer for other stuff. Even if we think that religious things are human phenomena, human phenomena are derivative of physical phenomena, which can mean that there is something else to them other than which is understood using just raw material, so to speak.

    I don't really know. The point I just want to make is that the two ideas occupy different space as far as I can tell. That doesn't mean one has the right ideas, but it does mean it's folly to use one to nullify the other.
  50. #50
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    I don't understand how you can "believe" in math. Math is a set of rules, wherein we agree on a set of beginning assumptions. 1+2=3 only makes sense because we all agree on the definitions of 1, 2, 3, +, and =. An alien race could come down, and say # € × ! 0 and be conveying the same information...but it doesn't look like 1+2=3 because their agreed upon definitions are different.

    Why does 1+2=3? Because by agreed upon definition, we said so. There isn't anything to believe, just stuff to understand.

    At some point, math applies itself to things. Areas of shapes. Descriptions of fluid dynamics. These still only make sense because we agree on definition...and are applying them to what we see.

    The question, in essence, is asking why we believe in "words".
  51. #51
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    @wuf: You need to get to the core of what you mean when you assert that something is true.

    Also, It seems like you're trying to push "Is XXX real?" into a binary answer.

    There's different kinds of real, as you pointed out earlier. Tangible real is one thing. Emotions are another. Ideas / concepts another still. I'd say, those are arranged from "most real" to "least real" but all of them are real.


    Do you see unity in something being real and an idea being true?


    I hearken back to that quote from the movie Second Hand Lions.
  52. #52
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    They both move forward in the sense you provide, as well as they occupy mostly different space. Fundamentalism has made a big mistake, in my estimation, by treating religious ideas as scientifically viable. They're not and they never really have been. Religious ideas have never really been about the physical world but about the metaphysical world. They attempt to describe the unknown, at least as far as it interacts with human experience. Science has made less stuff unknown, but it has no answer for other stuff. Even if we think that religious things are human phenomena, human phenomena are derivative of physical phenomena, which can mean that there is something else to them other than which is understood using just raw material, so to speak.

    I don't really know. The point I just want to make is that the two ideas occupy different space as far as I can tell. That doesn't mean one has the right ideas, but it does mean it's folly to use one to nullify the other.
    More correct is the important phrasing.

    Science and maths has never been there to prove anything wrong it's there to, see important phrasing, move towards more correct answers. Science and religion have only ever clashed because religion says things about life that we know aren't true. That's actually really important in what I said about science. If that didn't happen science would just be some bullshit too.

    Maths/science also isn't a discernment (autocorrect dunno if that means what I meant it to) of loads of really great shit we have thought about life.

    Quote Originally Posted by JKDS View Post
    I don't understand how you can "believe" in math. Math is a set of rules, wherein we agree on a set of beginning assumptions. 1+2=3 only makes sense because we all agree on the definitions of 1, 2, 3, +, and =. An alien race could come down, and say # € × ! 0 and be conveying the same information...but it doesn't look like 1+2=3 because their agreed upon definitions are different.

    Why does 1+2=3? Because by agreed upon definition, we said so. There isn't anything to believe, just stuff to understand.

    At some point, math applies itself to things. Areas of shapes. Descriptions of fluid dynamics. These still only make sense because we agree on definition...and are applying them to what we see.

    The question, in essence, is asking why we believe in "words".
    I was more so seeing this as thinking that maths is an explanation of life and will result in such given the right resources. I really don't believe that to be true.
    Last edited by Savy; 06-14-2017 at 12:44 AM.
  53. #53
    Mathematicians probably think of themselves as inventors more than discoverers. I know I would. The human approach to it is highly inventive.
  54. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    Mathematicians probably think of themselves as inventors more than discoverers. I know I would. The human approach to it is highly inventive.
    I think the opposite is true here, as I said in my post. Most take an underlying view that maths is something that controls the universe and is true hence they are discovering it rather than making something up.

    I say this because maybe it feels I come across as thinking the opposite because I think the opposite is true.
  55. #55
    Quote Originally Posted by JKDS View Post
    The question, in essence, is asking why we believe in "words".
    That's a great one.

    I have a hypothesis that words might be fundamental in a way we don't even know. Code is words. If we're living in a simulation, well, "in the beginning was the word" goes that famous line. This is totally tautological, though, so not a serious hypothesis.

    That hallucination aside, why do we believe in words?
  56. #56
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    When I say math applies itself to things...I should say instead that we (people) see something and go "hey, I can describe what I see with maths!". Sometimes we are wrong in how we described that thing though.
  57. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKDS View Post
    I don't understand how you can "believe" in math. Math is a set of rules, wherein we agree on a set of beginning assumptions. 1+2=3 only makes sense because we all agree on the definitions of 1, 2, 3, +, and =. An alien race could come down, and say # € × ! 0 and be conveying the same information...but it doesn't look like 1+2=3 because their agreed upon definitions are different.
    Dude... you gotta travel outside of AZ once in a while. You don't need aliens to see that kind of shiz waz, just internationals.

    or Romans
    Gotta love a semi-unary number system that has no way to represent large numbers. How did they run a state treasury? They were huge.

    Quote Originally Posted by JKDS View Post
    Why does 1+2=3? Because by agreed upon definition, we said so. There isn't anything to believe, just stuff to understand.
    So you're not compelled by the proof that all is clearly NOT one, and that there is more-than-oneness going on, all over the place, and that numbers clearly exist, even w/o any mind to observe them?

    Quote Originally Posted by JKDS View Post
    The question, in essence, is asking why we believe in "words".
    C'mon, man. Words keep repeatedly demonstrating their utility at accomplishing their exact intended goal. I send ideas out of my meat sack and get ideas in using words. It's all kinds of effective. I know about branding 'cause of your words, man.
  58. #58
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    @wuf: You need to get to the core of what you mean when you assert that something is true.

    Also, It seems like you're trying to push "Is XXX real?" into a binary answer.

    There's different kinds of real, as you pointed out earlier. Tangible real is one thing. Emotions are another. Ideas / concepts another still. I'd say, those are arranged from "most real" to "least real" but all of them are real.


    Do you see unity in something being real and an idea being true?


    I hearken back to that quote from the movie Second Hand Lions.
    I think I reached the limits of my understanding, which is partly why I brought it up here.

    I'm just baffled by what is actually "real" or "true" and what is not. For a long time I thought science tells us, but no, it doesn't. Ultimately I probably land where Savy does, in that there is not any ultimate truth we have the capacity to know. But, you know, who knows?
  59. #59
    Do you think words always do accurately describe information?

    I saw a good video on language developing (maybe posted on here) about how it starts off with us going ohh shit I'd love that rock up there next to my pal but how do I let him know I want that rock. Then they come to an agreement that a sound means ohh dickhead (freedom of speech) give me that rock and that then becomes give me that rock. This isn't a special case lots of noises can mean the same thing (i.e. language) but at what point does a words meaning become abstract enough to cause confusion? Love is definitely one of these words and can be used to mean lots of different things all with their own little meanings to their own person.

    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    I'm just baffled by what is actually "real" or "true" and what is not. For a long time I thought science tells us, but no, it doesn't. Ultimately I probably land where Savy does, in that there is not any ultimate truth we have the capacity to know. But, you know, who knows?
    I don't belive we don't have the capacity to understand though I think it's false to believe we definitely do. I just think it's false to think we know anything to be true.

    If it's any consolation when I was younger I used to think the opposite. You can go down a real rabbit hole trying to conclude that but no one has and the truth is if someone comes up with it in your lifetime then you can do that then.
    Last edited by Savy; 06-14-2017 at 12:59 AM.
  60. #60
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    That hallucination aside, why do we believe in words?
    Actually, I'm unsure how good of a question this is. Words are a little different than numbers in that it's easy to think of words as arbitrary. Numbers certainly can be arbitrary, but there seems to be a system of them that is not. That's what I wanna know why we think of them the way we do.
  61. #61
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    Actually, I'm unsure how good of a question this is. Words are a little different than numbers in that it's easy to think of words as arbitrary. Numbers certainly can be arbitrary, but there seems to be a system of them that is not. That's what I wanna know why we think of them the way we do.
    Numbers and maths aren't arbitrary they are well defined. Give a single example of what you mean, if true it would change maths.
  62. #62
    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    Do you think words always do accurately describe information?

    I saw a good video on language developing (maybe posted on here) about how it starts off with us going ohh shit I'd love that rock up there next to my pal but how do I let him know I want that rock. Then they come to an agreement that a sound means ohh dickhead (freedom of speech) give me that rock and that then becomes give me that rock. This isn't a special case lots of noises can mean the same thing (i.e. language) but at what point does a words meaning become abstract enough to cause confusion? Love is definitely one of these words and can be used to mean lots of different things all with their own little meanings to their own person.
    Yeah, really the only thing I can say about the words thing is that it could be the case that that which runs our existence might be a bunch of symbols constructed in some coherent fashion. As far as I can tell, the universe could be like a super duper advanced computer program, or it could be like, well, something as of yet not determined.
  63. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    Dude... you gotta travel outside of AZ once in a while. You don't need aliens to see that kind of shiz waz, just internationals.

    or Romans
    Gotta love a semi-unary number system that has no way to represent large numbers. How did they run a state treasury? They were huge.


    So you're not compelled by the proof that all is clearly NOT one, and that there is more-than-oneness going on, all over the place, and that numbers clearly exist, even w/o any mind to observe them?


    C'mon, man. Words keep repeatedly demonstrating their utility at accomplishing their exact intended goal. I send ideas out of my meat sack and get ideas in using words. It's all kinds of effective. I know about branding 'cause of your words, man.
    Any proof like "all is not one" requires a definition of all and one.

    Also, you reminded me of the invention of 0. Iirc, 0 wasn't discovered, but invented to define something. Maybe that bears on the discussion somehow. I like bears.
  64. #64
    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    Numbers and maths aren't arbitrary they are well defined. Give a single example of what you mean, if true it would change maths.
    Ignore what I said. What I was getting at is more along the lines of when something is not exactly defined. Words in colloquial language might not be exactly defined, but numbers in mathematics are. Granted, as far as I can tell, words in code are exactly defined, so the point I was trying to make could be useless. Do you think that numbers not being arbitrary lends to the idea that they are a fundamental nature?
  65. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    Do you think words always do accurately describe information?

    I saw a good video on language developing (maybe posted on here) about how it starts off with us going ohh shit I'd love that rock up there next to my pal but how do I let him know I want that rock. Then they come to an agreement that a sound means ohh dickhead (freedom of speech) give me that rock and that then becomes give me that rock. This isn't a special case lots of noises can mean the same thing (i.e. language) but at what point does a words meaning become abstract enough to cause confusion? Love is definitely one of these words and can be used to mean lots of different things all with their own little meanings to their own person.


    I don't belive we don't have the capacity to understand though I think it's false to believe we definitely do. I just think it's false to think we know anything to be true.

    If it's any consolation when I was younger I used to think the opposite. You can go down a real rabbit hole trying to conclude that but no one has and the truth is if someone comes up with it in your lifetime then you can do that then.
    Words are no different than math. You can misuse both, but that doesn't mean they aren't accurate descriptors.

    Love, in your example, suffers in that it is trying to approximate something...like math might try to approximate (something super complex and hard to approximate).

    But that doesn't mean words arnt like math. Like math, some things are clearly defined by words. Plate. Apple. Fork.

    You might say that there are quite a large number of different kinds of plates, apples, and forks. You're correct...but that misunderstands the words definition. Fork doesn't have to be a single thing...it's instead a set of things...wherein all "fork like things" belong. You can narrow that set with more precise words or by adding qualifiers.

    "The silver, 8.9" fork engraved with "jkds is a badass" which I bought last Tuesday at 8:45am" is probably singular. That's close to math saying what "2" means.

    Other words are closer to things like + or =. These are words that give meaning to sentence structure.
  66. #66
    Quote Originally Posted by JKDS View Post
    Any proof like "all is not one" requires a definition of all and one.

    Also, you reminded me of the invention of 0. Iirc, 0 wasn't discovered, but invented to define something. Maybe that bears on the discussion somehow. I like bears.
    I have been mauled by 0 bears. Discover that!
  67. #67
    Quote Originally Posted by JKDS View Post
    Love, in your example, suffers in that it is trying to approximate something...like math might try to approximate (something super complex and hard to approximate).
    Can I just reply no?

    Plate, apple, fork are all things that aren't well defined. They are just more well defined than other words you might have been thinking of. Compared to mathematical rigour it's a fucking joke.
  68. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKDS View Post

    "The silver, 8.9" fork engraved with "jkds is a badass" which I bought last Tuesday at 8:45am" is probably singular. That's close to math saying what "2" means.

    .
    Maybe it's closer to describing something like π?

    My point is that words rely on definition just like math. People suck at conveying and understanding math, and they suck at conveying and understanding words too.
  69. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    Can I just reply no?

    Plate, apple, fork are all things that aren't well defined. They are just more well defined than other words you might have been thinking of. Compared to mathematical rigour it's a fucking joke.
    Sounds like you're saying math has better starting definitions.
  70. #70
    Quote Originally Posted by JKDS View Post
    Maybe it's closer to describing something like π?

    My point is that words rely on definition just like math. People suck at conveying and understanding math, and they suck at conveying and understanding words too.
    But that isn't true.

    Pick any mathematical thing and I'll find you well defined definitions of every word in the definition used to define that word.

    I mean I won't personally but you could.

    Quote Originally Posted by JKDS View Post
    Sounds like you're saying math has better starting definitions.
    Nah not really.
    Last edited by Savy; 06-14-2017 at 01:38 AM.
  71. #71
    Ultimately tell me what is and isn't a plate. If you can list literally everything as one or the other or give me some grander meaning as to the word plate I'm all ears.

    If you can convey some sort of an idea as to what a plate is then that's kind of my point about language.
  72. #72
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    @wuf: You need to get to the core of what you mean when you assert that something is true.
    Okay, this might help. Numbers are a concept and me being Thor is a concept. People treat numbers as if they are real and don't treat me as Thor as being real. While it is possible that I am actually Thor, I would agree that numbers seem to be of a true nature regarding reality and me being Thor does not. What, then, distinguishes numbers from me being Thor? What do we think of when we think of the relationship between numbers and reality, and why is that distinct from the idea that I am Thor?

    If this doesn't shine a light on where my brain is trying to go, let me know and I can possibly come up with a different way of putting it.
  73. #73
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    I feel like I chose the wrong words to describe my thought.

    When I say people have trouble understanding and conveying math, I don't fault math and I don't mean that math can't do it. I mean that people in general don't understand the definitions, and suck at describing things with math. If you've ever tried to explain something mathematical to another person, you've probably experienced the issue.

    There are many who can competently do this though. And understand it. Those people exist for words too, and when they speak it's beautiful
  74. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    Ultimately tell me what is and isn't a plate. If you can list literally everything as one or the other or give me some grander meaning as to the word plate I'm all ears.

    If you can convey some sort of an idea as to what a plate is then that's kind of my point about language.
    Patents do this routinely. It's all definitions, even if it's not as neat as math.
  75. #75
    Quote Originally Posted by Savy View Post
    Numbers and maths aren't arbitrary they are well defined. Give a single example of what you mean, if true it would change maths.
    Oh I remember now why I said numbers can be arbitrary but some systems dont seem to be. I don't know this from my own investigation but it's something I think I have seen from people discussing math (mostly here): there are all sorts of systems of mathematics that are internally consistent yet don't reflect the physical universe. I don't know of what any of them are or even if my statement is correct, but I seem to recall that people have created internally coherent mathematics that are not coherent when applied outside of the system, or something to that effect.

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