Author Topic: WillLem's Blog  (Read 1955 times)

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Offline ccexplore

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Re: WillLem's Blog
« Reply #45 on: May 20, 2020, 07:53:20 am »
"Existence" is a pretty slippery concept anyway.  Simulation theory for example propose the possibility that everything we perceive may in fact just be part of a simulation.  If that is the case then you can probably argue that no object is any more "real" than numbers, that none of them are in fact "real".

Simulation theory actually can potentially help describe the difference between numbers and your everyday "real" objects.  Just like Lemmings, the simulation could consist of both code--programming that governs how the physics work in the simulated world, and data representing the actual objects or elements of the simulated world--just like the data loaded from a level file that describes the individual elements such as terrain, objects, etc., plus additional data in memory needed for things like lemmings that are introduced into the level while level is running.  Numbers seem more aligned to the programming of a simulation while "real" objects seem more aligned to the data.  Interestingly, outside of the simulation, they may not actually be all that different--in a computer for example, the code and the data actually are stored ultimately the exact same way (as bits); they are only different based solely on how the CPU is instructed to operate over them--either to read them as instructions to execute, or as data to be operated on by the executing instructions.

If numbers are merely a language to describe reality what is the reality that is being described with a number like pi? It's just an approximation

Pi is not an approximation.  "3.14" or "3.14159" are approximations of pi.  It so happens that Pi does not have a finite representation as a decimal number, but its definition is simply based on the ratio of circumference to diameter.  In a way, the circle is the embodiment of Pi.

Now, you can argue whether the perfect geometric circle is "real" or not in the same way you discuss whether numbers are platonic, nominal or factional.

It is true that it can be very difficult if not impossible, to ascertain how much of our perceived reality is just a product of our mind versus having an independent existence outside of the mind, though I feel like this goes for anything not just numbers though.

Offline Forestidia86

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Re: WillLem's Blog
« Reply #46 on: May 20, 2020, 10:01:01 pm »
I think the philosophical (ontological/metaphysical) question whether numbers or sets exist revolves around the question whether abstract objects exists. Abstract objects are such outside of space-time or outside the material world. At least sets as entities are not part of the material world in that sense.

Offline mobius

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Re: WillLem's Blog
« Reply #47 on: May 21, 2020, 01:00:35 am »
Yeah what I'm actually trying to argue whether the perfect geometric circle is "real" or not. Just didn't think how to word it properly.
The 'actual' pi is as you describe of a "perfect" circle. IMHO perfection is another concept of the mind and as such isn't real in any ultimate sense.
Tell me if this makes any sense at all;
If you draw a circle on a piece of paper; even if you use tools and or calculations to get it as perfectly round as possible it's always going to be off; thousands if not millions of atoms in the lead or the paper etc can't be perfect (and then we could go down the the quantum level but that just opens up a whole other can of worms...). Therefore when calculating pi you get 3.1415... something but it's not real pi, right? The formal way pi is calcuatlated is really complicated; it uses math; no 'real' world objects (That is; not measuring something in the world). Doesn't this sort of dictate that pi itself is abstract in that sense? = not real.

Actually I do think that all objects (the "real" world) in some sense isn't real because reality itself is just another concept. What's reality? As opposed to what? What's in our mind? Is our mind not part of reality?
This may sound very strange but it's an idea I've had for quite a few years now but it was very much solidified/given more weight when I started meditating by actual experience. I can't explain it anymore than that however, without sounding crazy (as if I don't already) :P


I was never a huge fan of simulation theory. For one; it has the same problem the God problem has: you just ask who created/maintains the simulation of the simulator? Then you get a recursion. IMO there isn't as yet strict evidence the universe/life is super recursive like this. At least in size; life gets very very different the larger/smaller you get. In space life seems similar enough in distant galaxies but we're only scratching the surface of that exploration. And we're looking back in time (which is subject of another blog I want to write).

Secondly the theory assumes that life (in our sense of the word) arises when these simulations are made. That seems like a slippery slope.
As to the example of Lemmings;
Lemmings do exactly what the programmer tells them to do. When bugs occur it was because there was either a mistake in the code or the code combined in a way that was not foreseen producing an unexpected result.
but isn't it true that in our real world there are always exceptions. That is; our theories of the universes (including math) are only approximations; rules which make sense in the free and imaginative mind; have the ability to compute amazing results in reality; but cannot ultimately define it 100%.


I'm just arguing the same thing over again and it doesn't lead anywhere... I don't want to believe in Simulation theory very strongly and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's close relation to belief in God?
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Offline WillLem

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Re: WillLem's Blog
« Reply #48 on: May 21, 2020, 04:43:12 am »
Some excellent conversation going on here, I'm glad this topic is now thriving in the way I'd originally hoped. :lemcat:

Do you think numbers exist? Or to put it under another way which of the "three schools of thought" do you prefer?

I'm almost certainly a Mathematical Fictionalist, in that I do tend to question the existence of numbers, or at least what we understand about "numbers existing", and I do tend to regard them as being products of thought rather than original truths. However, they are incredibly useful, and number systems are responsible for many of world's great advancements.

What Numberphile says about the Fictionalist reconciling this dichotomy as "numbers are successful, but this doesn't make them true" resonates with me more than anything else that was mentioned in this video, so that would probably be where I stand. Of course, it's a very tentative standpoint based on relatively limited understanding, hence my fascination with the subject and desire to discuss and learn more.

I'm torn between nominalism and factionalism. I'm not sure as it may depend on the definition which could get a bit squirrelly.

Since squirrels are cute, fast, intelligent and resourceful, I wouldn't worry too much about things getting squirrelly.

The first two fall short especially when pushed to limits... If numbers are real; that is some kind of objects that exist in the world; where are they, what are they?... If numbers are merely a language to describe reality what is the reality that is being described with a number like pi? It's just an approximation

Agreed. This is the root of my fascination with the subject. In the video, the example was used of describing numbers to a child using objects: "here's a pencil, add another pencil and you have two pencils!"

I can't help but then think: yes, but a pencil is made up of 1 piece of wood and 1 piece of lead, so 1 pencil is equal to 2 parts. This would seem, on the surface of things, to prove that 1 = 2, but of course it doesn't prove that at all. The object of "1 pencil" is here being treated as a whole object, despite being made up of multiple elements.

However, it leaves the question behind: the fact that the pencil is being treated as 1 object has been decided - i.e. it is a product of human decision and system-making. It it not, therefore, a truth.

This thinking is not necessarily useful, of course, as it somewhat arbitrarily challenges a system that's proven to be successful, valid, and progressive. It merely asks the question: yes, but is it true? However, I keep coming back to that, and always have done. Maths is amazing, no doubt, but it has its limits.

Math is an aspect of our mind; a language, a code that describes the world or makes up the world. Perhaps it is universal. Or it might turn out that other intelligent life operates with a totally different set of mental tools instead....

That would be incredible: if we were to meet beings from other planets who also use Mathematics, or - better still - have some other way of understanding things that seems completely bizarre to us at first, but works for them!

I thought this was why the Pangaea theory was formed? And I thought Pangaea is/was proven by plant/animal fossils being similar in certain places like Africa and South America etc.

The evidence all points to the continents being joined at some point in history, and Pangea theory was developed in support of Plate Tectonics theory. However, ask yourself which is more plausible:

1. All of Earth's continents were once joined together one one side of the planet, whilst all of its water made up the other half. Because... reasons.

2. The Earth was once smaller, and as it grew the crust broke apart, new crust was formed, and the gaps filled with water (likely from comets).

OK, I've biased the second option slightly, but it's really hard not to when you describe each theory in these terms!

Are you familiar with project Kepler space telescope?... What's interesting to me is they've discovered many "super earths"... In hubris we always say "Earth is perfect for life" But it may turn out we our unlucky and there are in fact BETTER places for life elsewhere.

This is fascinating: I'll look into this, for sure! I have no doubt that there are other places in the Universe which humans may find more temperate and better suited to us than Earth. It's just an issue that we can't seem to stop squabbling with each other long enough to make significant progress in finding these places, but... it's only a matter of time.

What are you're thoughts on alien life?

Aliens exist. There simply must be other planets out there which support life. It simply wouldn't make sense that, in a seemingly infinite Universe, there is only 1 inhabitable planet with life on it. As far as I'm concerned, the very idea is proof enough of life elsewhere. It would be good to find some, though.

"Existence" is a pretty slippery concept anyway... Numbers seem more aligned to the programming of a simulation while "real" objects seem more aligned to the data.

So, God is a coder! Who'd have thought a programmer would take such a viewpoint? ;P

Seriously though, this is a very interesting idea and would indeed account for the difference between the existence of manufactured systems (languages, numbers, programming code, etc) and the existence of "real" objects (lemmings, humans, ice cream, etc).

My main objection to this theory would be that it's based on our recent understandings of science and technology, and isn't compatible with more historical thinking. The average human living a few centuries ago wouldn't have had any concept of what a "simulation" was. We only understand it now because we've brought about the possibility through our various technological and linguistic advancements. So, naturally, this leads us to question whether such advancements may explain our own reality. An interesting idea, but isn't independent enough to stand up against more constant, abstract ideas about truth and the nature of existence/reality.

I was never a huge fan of simulation theory. For one; it has the same problem the God problem has: you just ask who created/maintains the simulation of the simulator?

Yeah, exactly - that, too.

Pi is not an approximation.  "3.14" or "3.14159" are approximations of pi.  It so happens that Pi does not have a finite representation as a decimal number, but its definition is simply based on the ratio of circumference to diameter.  In a way, the circle is the embodiment of Pi.

But then - which came first, Pi or the Circle?

It is true that it can be very difficult if not impossible, to ascertain how much of our perceived reality is just a product of our mind versus having an independent existence outside of the mind, though I feel like this goes for anything not just numbers though.

Absolutely agreed. Numbers are a good place to start the discussion though, because they are a man-made system which holds up to extensive scrutiny, meaning that they could represent a doorway to truth.

To expand on this: if I say "flying unicorns exist", the response is either likely to be amusement, pity or ridicule. However, if I say "the number 7 exists", it stands up to further discussion. So, better to pursue this particular line of enquiry - even if we may not agree that numbers exist, we can agree that the concept of numbers may be a key to better understanding of reality. Rather than focus on the key though, I'm more interested in finding the door and seeing where it leads.

Offline Forestidia86

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Re: WillLem's Blog
« Reply #49 on: May 21, 2020, 01:12:32 pm »
However, it leaves the question behind: the fact that the pencil is being treated as 1 object has been decided - i.e. it is a product of human decision and system-making. It it not, therefore, a truth.

Yeah it is an interesting question what we accept as distinct objects, we usually don't treat random parts of space-time as one object. But how we count is a matter of units I think, pencil is another unit than the lead core.

What is a truth for you, what entities are able of being true or false? One approach would be that (only (certain)) sentences can be true or false.
Imagine there is exactly one pencil lying on the table at a certain point. Would you see the sentence: "There is exactly one pencil on the table at that certain point." as true or as false or as neither? Is such a sentence for you able to be true or false?

Offline ccexplore

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Re: WillLem's Blog
« Reply #50 on: May 21, 2020, 07:08:45 pm »
I was never a huge fan of simulation theory. For one; it has the same problem the God problem has: you just ask who created/maintains the simulation of the simulator? Then you get a recursion.

Simulation theory doesn't claim it's an infinite recursion of simulations though.  It only suggests that we (and the specific universe we're in as we know it) might be in one, and some would argue that it might be more likely that we are in one than not (because there could be simulations within a simulation, so the argument goes that there are more worlds one could be in that are simulated versus not simulated).

Anyway, I don't have a strong preference for or against the theory, but I do feel it can be useful to at least consider some implications that could arise from the theory.  For example, the thing I pointed out about how the code and data of a running Lemmings game are in fact all just bits, even though within the simulated universe of the lemmings level they couldn't be more different in their natures.  Even if our world isn't actually simulated, it could still be the case that maybe both concrete and abstract objects can still in fact arise from the same common underlying elements, despite us experiencing them very differently within the universe.

Offline ccexplore

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Re: WillLem's Blog
« Reply #51 on: May 21, 2020, 09:55:54 pm »
I thought this was why the Pangaea theory was formed? And I thought Pangaea is/was proven by plant/animal fossils being similar in certain places like Africa and South America etc.

The evidence all points to the continents being joined at some point in history, and Pangea theory was developed in support of Plate Tectonics theory. However, ask yourself which is more plausible:

1. All of Earth's continents were once joined together on one side of the planet, whilst all of its water made up the other half. Because... reasons.

See, that's a common misconception that I thought I tried to dispel earlier in this thread but apparently not successfully.  To be fair, the way you stated it above actually is technically accurate, just I think there is a huge unspoken misconception that I need to emphasize again.

Specifically, plate tectonics do not actually posit that the Earth started off as Pangaea.  Instead, the continents of today were the result of the breaking apart of an earlier supercontinent that geologists named Pangaea, but other stuff happened well before you got to Pangaea.  Here's the introductory paragraph in Wikipedia's article for Pangaea (with emphasis added by me):

Quote from: Wikipedia
Pangaea or Pangea ( /pænˈdʒiːə/[1]) was a supercontinent that existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras.[2][3] It assembled from earlier continental units approximately 335 million years ago, and it began to break apart about 175 million years ago.[4] In contrast to the present Earth and its distribution of continental mass, Pangaea was centred on the Equator and surrounded by the superocean Panthalassa. Pangaea is the most recent supercontinent to have existed and the first to be reconstructed by geologists.

Plate tectonics merely posit that the continents will move over time, and periodically from time to time their trajectories will bring them all together, and then at those times you get a supercontinent.  Pangaea is the most recent incarnation of such a supercontinent, and as such, it is how the shapes of the continents of today fit together.  But it's not the first one, nor the only time Earth had a supercontinent, nor does the theory says the Earth must start off with one.

At the times in Earth's history when continents did come together, their old boundaries were effectively erased by great, violent force as the continents collide and smoosh together.  It's like if you take two balls of play-doh and smoosh them together into one, in the process the touching parts of the original balls' surfaces fuse together and effectively disappear as distinct surfaces.  So you lose much of the original shapes of whatever earlier continents there were before the formation of the supercontinent.  In contrast the process of the supercontinent breaking apart doesn't have anything causing the boundaries created from the break to diverge from one another, and so the resulting continental pieces will still retain a lot of the boundaries that fit against one another.

=====================

The average human living a few centuries ago wouldn't have had any concept of what a "simulation" was.

Yes and no.  Yes, modern technological advances had given specific ways to describe and talk about simulation theory, language that didn't exist for earlier philosophers.  But very similar ideas had existed long before computers were invented, just that they used different languages and concept instead to talk about it.  To quote the introductory paragraph on Wikipedia's article on simulation theory:

Quote from: Wikipedia
There is a long philosophical and scientific history to the underlying thesis that reality is an illusion. This skeptical hypothesis can be traced back to antiquity; for example, to the "Butterfly Dream" of Zhuangzi,[1] or the Indian philosophy of Maya. A version of the hypothesis was also theorised as a part of a philosophical argument by René Descartes.

The "Butterfly Dream" alluded to for example, basically boils down to the question:  "Is it the man dreaming he is a butterfly, or is it the butterfly dreaming he is a man?  Can you really tell which is which?"  If you consider that a dream is a mind's simulation of the "real" world, then effectively you have a form of simulation theory in another guise.

Offline mobius

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Re: WillLem's Blog
« Reply #52 on: May 22, 2020, 01:26:59 am »
The way I see it math isn't exactly a language or description. It's part of the way our mind works. It's how we see the world. This is how we classify and define the world. Doing this leads to further ways of classifying and defining. Which leads to our imagining a different world (ideas) which leads to altering the outside world to change it (creating things). When creating a wooden table for example; you don't create the thing out of nothing. You alter existing materials to become the shape of the table. When calculating the trajectory of a spaceship; You didn't create the trajectory (that's an abstract thing anyway). You had an idea; then enacted it onto the world, altered the movement of the spaceship and results were had; which were most certainty not 100% like your idea; but similar (if successful). That's how success is generally defined (well one way).
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The only limits to math might be our own imagination ;)

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well this is certainty getting on quite a subjective soap box and I'm sure someone like Arty could speak better on this but I would think there's a big difference between the concepts of God and coder. Coders use a pre-existing or self make set of rules to create a system and are then bound by that system/must play within the rules of that system. "God"(s) are not bound by any system or anything at all. They can change the rules; Maybe (this is a recent thought I've had) they aren't even limited by an imagination (if that even makes any sense... not sure that it does).
That's what really limits us; if you didn't/can't think of it; it's not going to happen. Even if it's something really simple. If it doesn't occur to you; you can't do it, except by stumbling upon it by accident.

quote from WillLem;
[Seriously though, this is a very interesting idea and would indeed account for the difference between the existence of manufactured systems (languages, numbers, programming code, etc) and the existence of "real" objects (lemmings, humans, ice cream, etc).]

Still though I have trouble understanding the meaning of this when pushed to the limit: What truly is the difference between these things (real and inside our head) when our head is part of this reality in the first place? When you have a thought it is an image, voice or feeling that is a mixture or regurgitation of previously collected stimulus. The images in your head are "real" in that they are there, they exist.

This is part of my rejection of simulation theory. In order to support that you have to have a clear distinction between reality and simulation which imo; there isn't such a thing. That distinction itself is man-made and subjective. Maybe this is a circular argument I'm making idk; the more I think about it the less it makes sense.


[But then - which came first, Pi or the Circle?]

the answer is which ever first occurred to the first human (or perhaps non-human....) that thought of it. Which means essentially; circle. In the 'real world' there is no such thing as pi and there is no such thing as circles.

The concept of objects too again, like all other, is illusory. We can break up the universe into multiple 'things' and separate it and label it in any way that we want; but ultimately the universe is just one 'thing'; everything including you.

Joe Rogan said when congressman Anthony Wiener had his **** pic scandal that's when he started taking simulation theory seriously :laugh::laugh:

Oh btw; if you like this sort of thing try the book "Super Mind" by John Micheal Godier.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2020, 01:34:08 am by mobius »
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Offline ccexplore

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Re: WillLem's Blog
« Reply #53 on: May 24, 2020, 10:42:12 am »
If you draw a circle on a piece of paper; even if you use tools and or calculations to get it as perfectly round as possible it's always going to be off; thousands if not millions of atoms in the lead or the paper etc can't be perfect (and then we could go down the the quantum level but that just opens up a whole other can of worms...). Therefore when calculating pi you get 3.1415... something but it's not real pi, right? The formal way pi is calcuatlated is really complicated; it uses math; no 'real' world objects (That is; not measuring something in the world). Doesn't this sort of dictate that pi itself is abstract in that sense? = not real.

Yes, you may never find a perfect circle in the real world.  But you do find plenty of slightly imperfect circles that deviates slightly from pi, and the mathematics tell you how the amount of geometric imperfection translates to an amount of numeric deviation.  It also tells you how you could try to smooth out, reduce some of the geometric imperfections, and then you can get ever closer numerically to pi (even if never actually achieve it exactly).

So you're in the interesting position that for something that's abstract and thus one may argue as "not real", somehow you get plenty of "more real" things in the real world that still all behave rather closely to this possibly non-existent abstract thing, and can often be made to become ever closer to it even if never actually achieving the abstract perfect state.  It kind of makes the question of whether the abstract thing is "real" or not almost a little irrelevant?

I don't want to believe in Simulation theory very strongly and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's close relation to belief in God?

I'd rather leave religion out of this.  But I'm rather surprised actually, I'd kind of think that a belief in God could actually make simulation theory easier to accept, at least if you consider that God may be the maker of the simulation.  If you for example take Christianity's tenets about how man are created in God's image, how God is all-powerful and can make anything happen in our world, all that actually seem rather even more sensible if our world is a simulation and God has created it and is maintaining it from time to time.  Even things like death, heaven and hell can be part of the simulation and aren't invalidated in any way by the hypothesis.  It even boosts God's divinity status as something only He uniquely possesses, as everything else is in the simulation and only He exists outside of it.

In any case, I will point out that simulation theory has an obvious built-in weakness, in that the theory being true can also very well mean it can never be proven.  Just like there's no way for the lemmings to escape your computer into the world outside, most simulations would effectively trap their inhabitants within the simulation, possibly with zero observable interference from the "outside", making it impossible for the inhabitants to come to any definitive proof that they are in a simulation.

For me, simulation theory is more useful as a "what-if", a framework to talk about and further explore ideas and possibilities.  Whether we are actually in a simulation or not I almost couldn't care less.  For example, the analogy that data and code are both just bits, it may have started from the idea of how our computers operate, but can potentially translate even if our world isn't actually a simulation--the more general idea that even something as seemingly different as, say, laws of physics versus the atoms and particles they govern, may well in fact have some common underlying element/entity that embodies or explains both.

Math is an aspect of our mind; a language, a code that describes the world or makes up the world. Perhaps it is universal. Or it might turn out that other intelligent life operates with a totally different set of mental tools instead....

Here's the thing though.  Somehow math seems surprisingly good at describing the physics of our world.  It also seems to be the case that the laws of physics remain constant over the entire known universe.  Even if other intelligent life operates with some other mental language and process, if we expect that they would arrive at many of the same conclusions that we do with our math and physics, then it would seem to imply there'd actually be a translation (perhaps a very complex and elaborate translation, but one may exist nevertheless) between our math and physics and whatever their mental tools may be.  And so the "languages" are maybe not so different after all.  This actually makes the language analogy really apt here--it's just like how different human languages can be translated to one another, and while some things may be lost in translation, there's still enough common ground between diverse cultures and groups to make translations fairly effective.  The language analogy also shows that, even though we don't quite have a "universal language" today, it doesn't preclude common ground.  Even if math is not universal, at least some of it will likely still be translatable to whatever mental tools the aliens may be using.

Offline WillLem

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Re: WillLem's Blog
« Reply #54 on: May 24, 2020, 02:25:49 pm »
What is a truth for you, what entities are able of being true or false?

I suppose that one mark of truth is constancy - i.e. if something cannot be changed by time, perspective or physics, then it is "true". However, it is also possible for something to be true right now, but false tomorrow. However, such things are subject to the question of whether they were ever true, a question that can only be reconciled by evidence. And, such evidence needs also to be "true".

It's a great question though, and one I can't easily answer.

Imagine there is exactly one pencil lying on the table at a certain point. Would you see the sentence: "There is exactly one pencil on the table at that certain point." as true or as false or as neither? Is such a sentence for you able to be true or false?

Yes, but it would need to be verified. It's possible to see what appears to be a pencil on what appears to be a table seemingly in the present moment, but that requires three things to be confirmed: that what you're seeing is in fact a pencil, and that what it's on is in fact a table, and that you're seeing it now rather than remembering it later. For these, we largely rely on our senses, as well as prior knowledge of what the objects are, and awareness of the passage of time.

Pangea theory was developed in support of Plate Tectonics theory. However, ask yourself (if it's) plausible (that) all of Earth's continents were once joined together on one side of the planet, whilst all of its water made up the other half.

Specifically, plate tectonics do not actually posit that the Earth started off as Pangaea.  Instead, the continents of today were the result of the breaking apart of an earlier supercontinent that geologists named Pangaea, but other stuff happened well before you got to Pangaea.

Whether or not Earth's land masses started off as a super-continent is not what's in doubt here: Expansing Earth Theory questions whether they were ever in such a formation on one side on Earth at the size it is now whilst all of the water was on the other side. It seems to be more plausible that the continents were in fact joined on all sides, which of course would only be possible on a smaller planet, with or without water.

At the times in Earth's history when continents did come together, their old boundaries were effectively erased by great, violent force as the continents collide and smoosh together.  It's like if you take two balls of play-doh and smoosh them together into one, in the process the touching parts of the original balls' surfaces fuse together and effectively disappear as distinct surfaces.

I just want to take a moment to enjoy your use of the verb "smoosh" twice in as many consecutive sentences. :lemcat:

Smooshing, as I understand it, is what you do to dogs, cats or other small animals that are particularly cute, thus evoking extreme physical affection. i.e. "come here so I can give you a smoosh!" :crylaugh: :lemcat:

The "Butterfly Dream" alluded to for example, basically boils down to the question:  "Is it the man dreaming he is a butterfly, or is it the butterfly dreaming he is a man?  Can you really tell which is which?"  If you consider that a dream is a mind's simulation of the "real" world, then effectively you have a form of simulation theory in another guise.

That's true, I hadn't thought of it that way: dreams are, in a way, a simulation of reality. Descartes attempt to reconcile this with his oft-quoted "Cogito, ergo sum" - existence is certain as long as there is awareness. However, the nature of that existence is still, indeed, up for investigation.

Coders use a pre-existing or self make set of rules to create a system and are then bound by that system/must play within the rules of that system. "God"(s) are not bound by any system or anything at all.

Aren't they?

That's what really limits us; if you didn't/can't think of it; it's not going to happen. Even if it's something really simple. If it doesn't occur to you; you can't do it, except by stumbling upon it by accident.
...
When you have a thought it is an image, voice or feeling that is a mixture or regurgitation of previously collected stimulus. The images in your head are "real" in that they are there, they exist.

Is thought, therefore, God?

In the 'real world' there is no such thing as pi and there is no such thing as circles.

I disagree here: the observable world is full of naturally-occurring circular and spherical objects. I'd probably prefer to conclude that the shape came first, and pi is our way of understanding and measuring it. But then, it could also be reasoned that pi is the "natural code" that allows circular shapes to exist in the first place... hence the question.

Yes, you may never find a perfect circle in the real world. But you do find plenty of slightly imperfect circles that deviates slightly from pi, and the mathematics tell you how the amount of geometric imperfection translates to an amount of numeric deviation... It kind of makes the question of whether the abstract thing is "real" or not almost a little irrelevant?

How so? (i.e. how does it make it irrelevant?)

I will point out that simulation theory has an obvious built-in weakness, in that the theory being true can also very well mean it can never be proven. Just like there's no way for the lemmings to escape your computer into the world outside, most simulations would effectively trap their inhabitants within the simulation, possibly with zero observable interference from the "outside", making it impossible for the inhabitants to come to any definitive proof that they are in a simulation.

If you could enter a simulated world of your own making, design it to be exactly as you want it to be, but with the caveat that you would either:

a) Not be aware that it was a simulation after entering it, but if you ever realised it was then you would immediately leave and never be able to return to it.

or

b) Be aware that it was a simulation, but be unable to leave after you entered it.

Would you enter the simulation under either of these conditions? If so, which one, and why?

Offline mobius

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Re: WillLem's Blog
« Reply #55 on: May 24, 2020, 02:28:57 pm »
I wrote this before Willem posted and I don't feel like reading his post and/or modifying mine right now :P

First of all just to be clear:
-I'm not trying to argue in any way that math isn't useful or doesn't describe the "world" well.
-I'm not exactly a religious person. (though sarcastic comments I've made during Lix and what-not may have confused people). While I do have interests in religion; religious people wouldn't call me religious. [this is a topic for a different conversation]

I don't believe in God; that's partly why I also don't like Simulation theory. Like I said earlier it has similar problems. The biggest one for me is ultimately it just raises more questions than answers:

-Who creates God/the simulation?
-when/where/why/how was God/this simulation made?
-ultimately what does this mean for my life here and now? If anything at all. And if nothing: then why even care?

-But more directly I think the main thing I dislike about the theory is it just seems like too big of a leap/assumption about too many unknowns about the universe. Like if we are ants inside a colony and we're trying to guess about how this glass container works and what exists outside of it; we're basing it all on the stuff we're doing inside our sand colony here and now. Clearly; that's not even remotely like what's going on outside... in more ways than one.

Don't get me wrong: it is fun to think about. That's why I recommended that book. And I agree with your (ccexplore's) points made.  But at the end of the day if I was asked if I believe that a monotheistic religion or simulation theory are likely good explanations of our universe: I would answer no, not at all.

quote from ccexplore:
[Here's the thing though.  Somehow math seems surprisingly good at describing the physics of our world....]

First of all I'm not arguing against this point. I agree to a point. However I feel like everyone who makes this argument misses a key point:
Math must describe the world; there's no other possibility. If it didn't explain the physics of our world; it wouldn't exist; and we wouldn't be having this conversation. If I propose something to you like 1+1=3; this doesn't work; doesn't lead to any new or interesting insights; doesn't lead to any new math or anything useful what-so-ever. Therefore you'd throw it out and say this is "wrong" or "pointless". So IMO; it's no shock or oddity that "math *somehow* explains our world to an amazing degree of "accuracy". We are deciding what *all* of these things mean; WE are saying this is how the world operates. So why are we so amazed that it works?

It's what I always think when people say things like "it's a miracle that we are here; that the universe exists and is so perfect for human life."

First of all; I wouldn't exactly call it perfect for human life when things like 'natural disasters' (which are just things about the way the earth operates normally and has to; or earth would be very different; in some cases in not so great ways) kill millions of people over the centuries.

But secondly the larger issue: why wouldn't it be a "miracle" we exist? Because if we didn't exist we wouldn't be able to say "it sucks we don't exist, what a shame we aren't alive to enjoy the fruits of a universe that isn't here for us... sad. ???

So my question to everyone raises this issue is what would life be like if math didn't work so well? Or if you think things came about "by chance" and they weren't orderly? Do you think life would be chaotic or something?
Personally I think there are an infinite number of ways life could be like for us; endless trillions upon trillions of possibilities of different, maths, languages, cultures etc. But if we had a similar thought process to what we're talking about here; then no matter what different possibility the other matters are; we'd be arguing the exact same thing. That math/science etc somehow "amazingly" describes our world.

It kind of makes the question of whether the abstract thing is "real" or not almost a little irrelevant?

Yes actually; that is kind of my point. "Real" is a concept that we humans create in our minds; it's part of the rule structure of our mind/society. It's required for our society to work the way it does today. But ultimately there's no reality and no illusion.
"The world is just the way that it is. It is neither good nor bad, right nor wrong." -Ajahn Sumedho
"All things are empty... Whoever can see this no longer needs anything to attain."
-The Heart Sutra

"Yeah, well, that's just, like, your opinion, man"
-the Dude


Offline ccexplore

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Re: WillLem's Blog
« Reply #56 on: May 24, 2020, 11:04:17 pm »
Whether or not Earth's land masses started off as a super-continent is not what's in doubt here

But that's exactly the problem.  The statement "Earth's land masses started off as a super-continent." is false, the misunderstanding I kept trying to correct.  Plate tectonics actually posits that the Earth's land masses go through cycles of coming together and breaking apart.  It's not unlike how the hands of a (analog) clock are usually apart from one another, but every 24 or so times a day they would happen to be right on top of each other for an instant.  The hands don't have to start off together.  They can well be very far apart at the time you put the battery/power to turn on the clock, and over time the hands will still periodically meet one another.

According to Wikipedia, it appears the Earth has had 3 times so far where the land masses come together:

Quote from: Wikipedia
The movement of plates has caused the formation and break-up of continents over time, including occasional formation of a supercontinent that contains most or all of the continents. The supercontinent Columbia or Nuna formed during a period of 2,000 to 1,800 million years ago and broke up about 1,500 to 1,300 million years ago.[79] The supercontinent Rodinia is thought to have formed about 1 billion years ago and to have embodied most or all of Earth's continents, and broken up into eight continents around 600 million years ago. The eight continents later re-assembled into another supercontinent called Pangaea; Pangaea broke up into Laurasia (which became North America and Eurasia) and Gondwana (which became the remaining continents).

The age of the Earth is estimated to be around 4.5 billion years old.  So what may be the first time the Earth had a supercontinent was at least 2.5 billion years after the birth of the planet.  It is quite likely that the land masses were apart from one another during those long years before the first occurrence of a supercontinent.

Indeed, with a cycle of coming together and breaking apart, an expanding earth theory actually becomes less useful even without taking into consideration the contradicting of other physical evidence scientists have found.  For the land masses to come back together (as had occurred multiple times in the past and will do so in the future), it isn't quite enough to just say the earth shrinks back down--if you take the current arrangement of continents, merely shrinking the earth would still leave you with at least 2 distinct oceans; you need significant movement of the continents to end up with one pan-ocean.  So the earth changing size doesn't actually quite explain a repeating cycle of land masses coming together and breaking apart, while plate tectonics do, and can do so without having to posit the earth also changing size (though the theory doesn't preclude that either; it's only through physical evidence that scientists have determined there hadn't been any significant changes in size).

they were ever in such a formation on one side on Earth at the size it is now whilst all of the water was on the other side.

It seems like you're also picturing Pangaea somewhat wrong.  As you should know, the Earth is actually mostly ocean.  The supercontinent would not occupy anywhere remotely close to the full area of a hemisphere, it's more like around a quarter or so of the total surface area:
 


It seems to be more plausible that the continents were in fact joined on all sides

The Earth got all its water on its surface relatively early on.  That volume of water doesn't just disappear or reappear by magic even if the planet were to change size.  For the planet to have started off so much smaller that the current total area of land mass would actually occupy almost all of the planet's surface, the same volume of oceanic water we have today would pretty much completely cover up all land masses leaving the planet looking entirely ocean actually.

Which points to another thing actually.  The earth's crust still exists wherever there are ocean, it's only merely buried by a large quantity of water.  The earth's tectonic plates (not to be confused with the relatively small portions of visible land masses protruding above the oceans) are always "joined on all sides", just that a lot of their touching boundaries are actually at the deep, deep bottom of the ocean floor.

==============================

Yes, you may never find a perfect circle in the real world. But you do find plenty of slightly imperfect circles that deviates slightly from pi, and the mathematics tell you how the amount of geometric imperfection translates to an amount of numeric deviation... It kind of makes the question of whether the abstract thing is "real" or not almost a little irrelevant?

How so? (i.e. how does it make it irrelevant?)

I just mean that for a concept that might be "imaginary" and "non-existent", we still see and measure its effects on everyday things that are decidedly "real".

It's not unlike earlier when you brought up "flying unicorns exist" and contrasting with "the number 7 exists".  Unlike pi and circles, there isn't a large number of examples of "almost flying unicorns" in the world, nor can you modify or alter something to become ever more closer to a true flying unicorn.  (Well okay, I can see someone imagining some sadistic thing being done on some poor animals--um, please don't? :P).  Even if one thinks pi is as imaginary as flying unicorns, it doesn't invalidate that the former still applies a lot more to the physical world compared to the latter.

=========================
 
If you could enter a simulated world of your own making, design it to be exactly as you want it to be, but with the caveat that you would either:

a) Not be aware that it was a simulation after entering it, but if you ever realised it was then you would immediately leave and never be able to return to it.

or

b) Be aware that it was a simulation, but be unable to leave after you entered it.

Would you enter the simulation under either of these conditions? If so, which one, and why?

Well, first of all, most probably I would reject both given their restrictions on leaving.  It's on entirely practical grounds--the world outside of the simulation still exists and is very relevant to my safety and well-being amongst other things.  To put simply, I'm not willing to risk my house burning down with me in it while I'm in a simulation.

Now, to make it more interesting, perhaps we should posit that you can somehow arrange matters in the world outside of the simulation so that this primal safety concern is not applicable.  For example, maybe the simulation is capable of letting you experience millions of years of passage of time within the simulation while barely a nanosecond has passed in the world outside.  You're just not in danger of the house burning down within the duration of a nanosecond.

I have to say that A is still more preferable, given the possibility of escape compared to B.  After all, there are still people and things outside of the simulation that matter to me a great deal, and similarly in the world outside there are things and people for whom I matter.  B would seem to imply a clean, permanent break with all that of the outside world and I'm simply not ready and not motivated to experience such a clean, permanent break.  Even if we posit that for B you start off lose all memories of your life outside the simulation, I'm also not ready nor motivated for other people and things in the outside world to experience a clean, permanent break from me either.

So now, to make it more interesting again, let's say we have an arrangement where it's not just you, but also everyone and everything you hold dear, can also enter the same simulation with you, so that the concerns raised above no longer applies.  I still feel like I prefer A more.  The problem of B precluding any escape from the simulation still has the problem that, unless you're 100% confident the simulation is perfect, you may well be committing forever to a simulated world that fails to unfold the way you expected.  You may have thought you were entering heaven when you stepped into the simulation, but turns out it actually winds up being hell.  At least with A there's still hope of an eventual escape.

Anyway, while I don't really prefer either option, so far I like option A better than option B I guess?  Interesting to see what other people thinks.

Offline WillLem

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Re: WillLem's Blog
« Reply #57 on: May 25, 2020, 05:13:18 pm »
Plate tectonics actually posits that the Earth's land masses go through cycles of coming together and breaking apart.

Something about this seems contradictory... if the landmasses on the surface can continually join together and break apart in this way, how do we account for what's going on beneath the ocean's surface? As you've pointed out - the continents are much bigger than what we see above water. Why would oceanic crust continually change whilst continental crust stays mostly the same, just moving about on the surface?

unless you're 100% confident the simulation is perfect, you may well be committing forever to a simulated world that fails to unfold the way you expected.  You may have thought you were entering heaven when you stepped into the simulation, but turns out it actually winds up being hell. 

It's interesting that it can be interpreted this way, but let's suppose the simulation is 100% perfect, and completely of your own design. Ultimately, the danger with A is that you're living in a perfect world, blissfully unaware that it isn't real; so, returning to the real world upon realising it's a simulation and then having to face whatever reality is there has the potential to make normal reality seem unbearable.

In a way - we experience A already, every day. We do all kinds of things to enter different states of consciousness (get drunk, play games, watch movies, whatever) and then ultimately return to the reality of our lives. We are, hopefully, motivated to always make reality as good as it can be. But when things aren't going our way, that can be very difficult to come to terms with.

Situation B, on the other hand, is a state of full knowledge of the truth that you're in a simulation, but not being able to choose to return to reality. I think the real caveat with option B is not that there is no chance of escape (indeed, the motivation to escape might be fairly low if everything is perfect), but that there would always be the sense that you'd given up on reality and chosen to live in the dream. No matter how good it was, I don't think you could ever shake that regret.

So, logically - reality is always the best option.