Logic of possibility

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The Logic of possibility is a peculiarly imaginative, inventive mode of argument. Unlike conventional logic, where the compound of possibilities does not result in a greater possibility or probability, but in a lesser one, the logic of possibility is one by which possibilities are assumed to add up to probability.[1][note 1] Effectively, the logic of possibility replaces one unknown mystery with another.[3][note 2] Darwin was criticised for using this method in The Origin of Species for there in it is assumed that the mere possibility of imagining a series of steps of transition from one condition of organs to another is to be accepted as a reason for believing that such transition has taken place.[5][note 3] Adopting the logic of possibility is an unscientific way of avoiding criticism of a hypothesis and attempt to free it from the burden of proof because a critic could reply to conjecture and imagination only with conjecture of his or her own, what would pointlessly lead nowhere.[1][note 4] The logic of possibility is native to postmodern science and scientism, respectively; and it violates the borderline, until recently respected with dignity by great scientists, between what is known and what is not.[3] The counterfactual reasoning inherent to logic of possibility should not be confused with Gedanken (thought) experiment, an legitimate device of the imagination used, inter alia by brilliant practitioners like, for example, Galileo, Descartes, Newton, Leibniz, and Maxwell[note 5], to investigate the nature of things without making factual claims about what had allegedly happened in their unobservable history.

Contents

Adopting the Logic of possibility in the Evolutionary thought

Following Darwin, the adherents of Theory of evolution also often encompass the logic of possibility in their asserts implying that things virtually construct themselves, the typical example is the book Climbing Mount Improbable by Richard Dawkins. Dawkins was criticised by Berlinski that[3]:
"It is one thing, however, to appeal to a path up Mount Improbable, quite another to demonstrate its existence. Dawkins persuades himself that because such a path might exist, further argument is unnecessary."[note 6]
Impediments are simply directed to disappear by adopting language terms like:
  • "There is no difficulty"
  • "there is definite tendency in the right direction"
  • "it is not at all difficult to imagine"

The true character of Darwinian hypotheses, labelled by John Wiester as "just-so stories" dominated by fuzzy logic, has been exemplified by William Hopkins' criticism in which he pointed out that Darwin, unlike Newton, made at any time but little use of the verb "to prove" in any of its inflections. His primary formula was "I think," "I am convinced," "I believe," "my general view must have some truth," "I cannot see any difficulty," and not "I have proved"[9][note 7]:

  • "I believe that something more is included"
  • "we have such good reason to believe"
  • "I believe, as was remarked in the last chapter, in no law of necessary development."[11]
  • "I think there can be little doubt that"
  • "We may I think safely assume"
  • "There is, also, I think, some probability in the view"
  • "I am convinced of their accuracy; and if I had space, I could show that they are conformable with my theory"[12]
  • "I am sure to be in error in many parts; but my general view, I conclude, must have some truth in it"[13]
  • "For the life of me I cannot see any difficulty in Natural selection producing the most exquisite structure, if such structure can be arrived at by gradation;"[14]
  • "there is no difficulty in supposing that such links formerly existed"[15]
Darwin stated this in the first edition of "On The Origin of Species", but then omitted this story in other editions (emphasis Conservapedia):
  • "In North America the black bear was seen . . . swimming for hours with widely open mouth, thus catching, like a whale, insects in the water. Even in so extreme a case as this, if the supply of insects were constant, and if better adapted competitors did not already exist in the country, I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their structure and habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale."[16]
Later however he nevertheless regretted his revision:
  • "I still maintain that there is no special difficulty in a bear's mouth being enlarged to any degree useful to its changing habits"[16][17][18]

Although it is not a fault to make such modest forms of expressions, they are in fact a formulae of a creed and not of a scientific theory.[9] According to Behe, when a merely verbal picture is painted of the development of complex biological systems, there is absolutely no way to know if it would actually work. Moreover, when crucial questions are ignored one leaves science and enters "the world of Calvin and Hobbes."[19]

Adopting the Logic of possibility in the Einstein's General Theory of Relativity

Einstein asserted in his book The meaning of Relativity (1922) that according to his conviction the possibility of explaining the numerical equality of inertia and gravitation by the unity of their nature is a sufficient reason for holding General Theory of Relativity as superior over the conceptions of classical theories and for considering all the difficulties encountered when making a way for his new theory "as small" in this respect.[10][note 8]

Notes

  1. cf."But were I to make such a claim I would observe, as Richard Dawkins does, that to the extent that simultaneous and parallel changes are required to form a complex organ, to that extent does the hypothesis of random variation and natural selection become implausible. It is one thing to find a single needle in a haystack, quite another to find a dozen needles in a dozen haystacks at precisely the same time. Surely the burden of proof in such matters is not mine. I am not obliged to defend such mathematical trivialities as the proposition that as independent events are multiplied in number, their joint probability of occurrence plummets." (David Berlinski)[2]
  2. For example, the assumably unknown causes of homosexual behaviour are replaced by insisting that such behaviour is result of operation of so called 'evolutionary enigma' .[4] Cf. explanation in science.
  3. cf."Today it is simply unscientific to claim that the fantastically reduced entropy of the human brain, of the dolphin's sound lens, and of the eye of a fossilised trilobite simply "happened", for experimental experience has shown that such miracles just do not "happen"."[6]
  4. cf."As my colleague, the physical chemist Peter Atkins, puts it, we must be equally agnostic about the theory that there is a teapot in orbit around the planet Pluto. We can’t disprove it. But that doesn’t mean the theory that there is a teapot is on level terms with the theory that there isn’t" Bertrand Russell (1958), quoted in Ars Disputandi[7]
  5. For example, Maxwell’s intelligent agent, referred to by secular scientists as 'Maxwell's demon', was a Gedankenexperiment to help us to understand the dissipation of energy in nature.[8]
  6. cf.Ipse dixit
  7. cf."...when one examines some proofs in the Neo-cartesian spirit, too often they seem to dissolve completely away, leaving one in a state of wonder as to author really thought he had proved something. Or is the reader stupid? It is hard to say."[10]
  8. cf. Dirac once said, "That which is not observable does not exist," but these days what is said is, "I know my theory is right. Therefore anything required to make it work must also be right whether observable or not."[20]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Randal Hedtke (2010). Secrets of the Sixth Edition. Master Books, 26. ISBN 978-0-89051-597-6. 
  2. David Berlinski (July 8, 2003). A Scientific Scandal? David Berlinski & Critics. Center for Science and Culture(originally: Commentary). Retrieved on May 15,2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 David Berlinski (2009). "Denying Darwin: David Berlinski & Critics", The Deniable Darwin. Seattle, USA: Discovery Institute Press (reprinted from Commentary February 1998 by permission), 94, 143, 231, 345, 377. ISBN 978-0-9790141-2-3. “...examples of Darwinian "just-so" stories and fuzzy logic are both instructive and amusing (quoted John Wiester). ...In reaching this conclusion he has replaced one mystery with another. ...Until recently, the great physicists have … attempted with dignity to respect the distinction between what is known and what is not. ...The patch does only what they have told it to do. ...” 
  4. William R. Rice, Urban Friberg and Sergey Gavrilets (December 2012). Homosexuality as a Consequence of Epigenetically Canalized Sexual Development. The Quarterly Review of Biology. “This paper argues that sexually antagonistic selection can also be involved in epigenetic effects and explain the enigmatic high prevalence of several fitness-reducing human characters. ... Homosexuality is frequently considered to be an unusual phenotype because it represents an evolutionary enigma —a trait that is expected to reduce Darwinian fitness, yet it persists at substantial frequency across many different (possibly all) human populations.”
  5. Gertrude Himmelfarb (1967). Darwin and the Darwinian revolution. Peter Smith. 
  6. Wilder Smith (2003). The natural sciences know nothing of evolution. Word for Today. ISBN 978-1931713504. 
  7. Brian Garvey (2010). Absence of Evidence, Evidence of Absence, and the Atheist’s Teapot. Ars Disputandi.
  8. Manuel Eugen Bremer, Daniel Cohnitz (2004). Information and Information Flow: An Introduction. Ontos Verlag. ISBN 978-3937202471. “This thought experiment was intended by Maxwell to dramatize the fact that the second law is a statistical principle and that it is not certain that the entropy in any case increases.” 
  9. 9.0 9.1 David L. Hull (1973). Darwin and his critics: the reception of Darwin's theory of evolution by the scientific community. Harvard University Press. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Marco M. Capria, Aubert Daigneaut et al. (2005). "5. General Relativity: Gravitation as Geometry and the Machian Programme", Physics Before and After Einstein. IOS Press, 97, 114. ISBN 1-58603-462-6. “The importance of the asserted identity of the two masses was stressed by Einstein in unambiguous terms: The possibility of explaining the numerical equality of inertia and gravitation by the unity of their nature gives to the general theory of relativity, according to my conviction, such a superiority over the conceptions of classical mechanics, that all the difficulties encountered must be considered as small in comparison with this progress. 
  11. Charles Darwin. "11", The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for life. 
  12. Charles Darwin. The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for life. 
  13. Darwin, C. R. to Gray, Asa 24 Dec [1859]. the University of Cambridge Darwin Correspondence Project. Retrieved on 17-Mar-2013.
  14. Darwin, C. R. to Lyell, Charles 15 Apr [1860]. the University of Cambridge Darwin Correspondence Project. Retrieved on 17-Mar-2013.
  15. Lee Spetner (1998). Not by chance! Shattering the Modern Theory of Evolution 84. Judaica Press. “[Darwin 1872, pp. 182 ff.] From "there is no difficulty in supposing", he went on to lead the reader into agreeing that it probably happened, and finally he assumes the reader goes along with him in agreeing that it did indeed happen that way.”
  16. 16.0 16.1 John L. Gittleman (Associate Professor of Zoology (May 16, 1994). Darwin Saw the Whale in the Black Bear. NYTimes.com/University of Tennessee Knoxville. Retrieved on November 25, 2013.
  17. Darwin, F.; Seward, A.C. (1903). More Letters of Charles Darwin. Appleton, 162. 
  18. Søren Løvtrup (1987). Darwinism: the refutation of a myth. Croom Helm, 87. ISBN 978-0709941538. 
  19. Michael J. Behe (1996). Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. Simon and Schuster, 95. ISBN 9780684827544. 
  20. Alex Williams, John Hartnett (2005). Dismantling the Big Bang. Green Forest, AR, USA: Master Books, 288. ISBN 978-0-89051-437-5. 

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