It’s Simple Inductive Reasoning, Watson part 2

•September 17, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Sherlock Holmes often told Watson that he used deductive reasoning when he came up with a conclusion. He believed it, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was wrong. He used inductive reasoning. Dr. Greg House, the modern, medical version of Holmes, made the same mistake.

Deductive reasoning is fairly simple to explain. A + B = C. You have certain facts that, when combined, have only one possible conclusion. Math uses deductive reasoning. So does computer language. As I mentioned last week, this is where you’ll find proof.

When there is more than one possible conclusion. You have to come up with the most likely of all possibilities. This is inductive reasoning. When House put a list of what diseases where most likely for a patient, then crossed off the ones that couldn’t be the case, he was looking for the most possible solution, not the only solution. You saw that with the number of solutions that were wrong. If they were the only possible answer, they would have been correct. This doesn’t mean that the conclusion has the possibility of being wrong. The evidence can be so overwhelming the conclusion could be set in stone. An example would be that for every day that humans could observe it, the sun rose in the east. Therefore tomorrow, the sun will rise in the east. Technically, not a forgone conclusion, but the evidence in way too strong to say anything else and not sound stupid.

For inductive reasoning, you need both quality and quantity of evidence. There is no set equation for what to look for, it’s up to the thinker to determine, but basic human reasoning will limit the conclusions. That was my design. Anyway, quality tends to trump quantity; if the evidence is good or bad enough it doesn’t matter how much of it you have. Take the sun example above. If all you had was the observation as evidence, that’s not a lot of evidence. But it’s really good, so it’s enough. But if you see a rock with a letter “C” on it, no picture of stars, and a flag waving, as well as a multitude of other evidence, and came up with the conclusion that man hasn’t been to the moon, all the evidence would come from a lack of understanding of how certain things work in the world and thereby bad evidence, so you would easily come up with the wrong conclusion.

Often, it takes both ways of thinking, even if it relies mostly on inductive reasoning, to figure something out. This is mostly an if-then scenario. If A is one thing and B is another thing, then A + B = C. You would use inductive reasoning to determine A and B, then the conclusion is based on deductive reasoning. However, since the factors are determined by inductive reasoning, there is no proof.

Next week, I’ll go into the difference between knowledge and truth. See you then.

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It’s Simple Inductive Reasoning, Watson part 1

•September 10, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Often, people use the word proof when they mean evidence. To simplify something I said in a comment last week, proof is something that will prove something is true. It doesn’t require anybody knowing it. It will be there. Evidence is everything that points to something being true. It actually doesn’t mean that the thing is true; just that it is the highest likelihood of being true. The example I gave was gravity. There is no proof that it exists, but there is so much evidence for it that you would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t think it’s real. This is why saying evolution or global warming is “just a theory” is showing your ignorance. Because gravity and most scientific principals, for the reason given above, are “just a theory.” But there was plenty of evidence for the world being flat or the center of the universe. Then there was more, better evidence for the round Earth and non-Earth-centric universe, so now that is what you believe. You have enough evidence to safely say that those theories are true, but don’t forget you don’t have proof, although I would allow that falling around the earth in a shuttle would be proof of the shape.

I would like to clarify that the differences. Between evidence and proof are largely by definition. I am using my own way of describing these definitions and by no means are actually based on any human dictionary. I am simply going by common usage standards. A courtroom would use them differently, such as proof is the strongest evidence there is. That’s just not how I use it. Feel free to disagree; some definitions can be fickle.

While you can pile on the evidence for evolution and global warming and gravity, you only need one proof for certain things, like math. 2+2=4. Done. No evidence gathering needed; that equation is true. Forget that numbers are just concepts or that those are just the Arabic numerals. The definitions (the non-fickle ones) are what are important here. A duet of trees and another duet of tree become a quartet of trees. No mathematical language there, but the meaning is the same. Hence why you can argue going around the world is proof that the world is round. The definition of round is not having corners and we’ve looked at every part of this world from space, whether via spacecraft or satellite, and have not found corners anywhere. Ergo, by non-fickle definition, the world is round. Math is one area of knowledge where proof is easy to find, and you can definitively say you know the truth. In fact, if it isn’t in math, but there is proof, it’s probably because of math (the definition of the shape of the earth is geometric, which, of course, is math). Outside of math, it’s hard to find proof.

Using these definitions, I’ll go into the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning next week. I decided to go easy on everyone and split this one into two or three posts. The third post may be its own post, but still be related to these two.

See you next week.

Evidence for the Absence of Absent Evidence

•September 3, 2012 • 2 Comments

You’ve heard the phrase “absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence.” Religious people say it when trying to explain my father or any other god with the lack of evidence. Inarticulate scientists use it when they don’t know how to explain a missing object, such as the Missing Link.

Guess what. That phrase is 100% wrong. It stems from the idea that you can’t prove a negative. With that logic however, the phrase should be “absence of evidence isn’t PROOF of absence.” As it turns out, absence of evidence is the very thing necessary to deny something is there.

For example, look to your left. Is there a unicorn there? And I mean a real unicorn, not some picture or stuffed animal or any other fake representation. If you said yes, seek help. For those who said no, why? The correct answer is because there is no evidence of one. That leads directly to the conclusion that there is no unicorn. The evidence of the absence of the unicorn was the absence of the evidence.

That is why whenever someone makes a claim, they’re the ones who have to bring forth the evidence. The best way to refute the absence of evidence is to actually have evidence.

So the next time someone uses that phrase, confirm with them that there is indeed an absence of evidence and the. Show them the logic trail. See how embarrassed they get.

See you next week.

The Godless

•August 27, 2012 • Leave a Comment

There is an anomaly that happens because of the fact that some of the different realities trying to take people for themselves and thereby only that reality could affect those people. It didn’t work. During that struggle, certain people weren’t being fought over. Since no god from any reality wanted or cared to affect them, they developed the natural ability to not be affected by any god whatsoever. Even death gods. It’s very rare when a new godless is born, but there are still the original ones. There usually wise and powerful. One strange ability they gained is the ability to adapt to whatever society they are in, almost immediately. This allows them to be very hard to catch. One loophole that at least one of the gods has been able to exploit is the fact that I know everything and therefore know them (in case you’re a little slow on the uptake, I’m the god who exploits the loophole). I can’t, however, take away or give them knowledge, not that I do that often with regular people. For any god with a plan that involves fooling other gods, godless can be used as a tool. I try to stop that if it gets too serious a threat to humankind, but most of the time, it’s something harmless.

Oh, and yes, the godless are almost exclusively atheist.

See you next week.

Amercia’s Got Problems

•August 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

If you don’t get the “Amercia” reference, Google “Romney Amercia”.

The United States of America gave the world a lot of stuff. Pasta, pizza, fireworks, gunpowder, the two largest engineering projects in the world. Wait. No, that was China. Let’s look at China for a second. History credits it for giving the world a great deal of innovations, but then they stopped for a while, during which time they were confused for a third world country. They started innovating again recently and now they are on their way to kicking the ass of America.

So let’s try this again. America gave the world medicine, mathematics, scholars. Pretty much, society today wouldn’t be nearly advanced as they are if it wasn’t for America. Nope. Wrong again. That was the Middle East. Again, an area of the world who stopped innovating, and this time they never recovered. Now most people don’t even remember that they used to be great innovators. They’re simply known for their violence.

So what have the United States given the world? A lot. That wasn’t a lie. They gave the world electronics and computers. They were one of the first modern societies to mix capitalism and communism to form a kind of socialism (by the way, the word socialism is misused a lot. Usually by people who really ought to know better). But one of the greatest things that they gave the world was the ability to innovate quickly.

Yes, I’m ignoring the negative things the US gave the world. The reason is simply because it’s not the point of this post.

After their civil war in the mid-1800’s, inventors started coming out of the woodwork. By the time the twentieth century came along the world had already changed. They were about to start flying. Just over half a century later, they reached the moon. Shortly after that, the world was given personal computers and phones that could travel with you.

But while those things have advanced immensely since then, what has really changed the world in the past thirty years? Humans have lived with the current technology of the day advancing since you discovered technology. So what truly new technology has come out of America that was truly innovative and world changing? Their greatest engineering feat, going to the moon, hasn’t been done since the seventies. The shuttle wasn’t a bad way to go, but it was invented in the seventies, and nothing since. At least not from NASA. The International Space Station was another great idea, but there are two things wrong. It hasn’t been used the way it was supposed to be, although that’s hardly the fault of the innovators, and the original space station was the Russian MIR, so not American.

Technology ages fast in the public eye. Cell phones from ten years ago are considered ancient. Yet everyone was sad when a technology from the seventies was finally retired earlier this year (the shuttle). There was public outcry when the Hubble telescope was threatened to be retired, despite its age. (It is no longer going to be repaired, just so you know. Unfortunately, there will be more out crying when they pull the plug even though they are doing to put a better telescope up.)

America has stopped innovating. If you want proof, read what I said earlier about China and the Middle East, and then look at what has been happening to the US in recent years. It has been steadily declining. Just like China and the Middle East when they stopped innovating.

But for the Americans who read this, don’t give up hope. As soon as the private sector got the go ahead to make their own spaceships, the innovation was started once again.

In case you’re wondering why I keep bringing up the space program, it’s because the space program tends to inspire innovators to do their thing. Some of the greatest innovations happened during the height of the space race of the Cold War.

And if you are an innovator yourself, or at least think you are, I’m going to give you some advice. Don’t just look in whatever field you are in. Mistakes and repairs in the Hubble telescope have led more than once in advances in breast cancer research and prevention. Not true innovations like the type I was describing earlier, but it shows the train of thought. Here’s something I want to see: someone design something that preserves food for the few men and/or women going to Mars that can then be used to preserve lots of food for people who live in drought common areas of the world. Or something similar for water. Innovation comes from everywhere, so look everywhere. You do this, and America will be great again.

See you next week.

Skipping Apollo

•August 13, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I wanted to write about something else, but got behind schedule. This has something related to what I was going to say, but it’s not the lengthy post I had planned.

The Presidents of the United States, both the current and the previous one, have pushed for NASA to go beyond low-earth orbit, but they have disagreed on the destination. One wants to go to the moon; the other wants to go to Mars. The moon was supposed to be a stepping stone to Mars. Not for the actual mission itself. It would waste fuel and time landing and relaunching. No, it would be a stepping stone for knowledge. All the countries who have a space program, whether established or developing, want to go to the moon. They know they need to land on something close-by to learn to land on something faraway.

But the US has already landed on the moon, so they know how to land on Mars, right?

Wrong. It’s been nearly 40 years since anybody’s been there. The only technology around that can do it is the Saturn V rocket, an old piece of machinery that no one really trusts to do the job anymore. How can anyone expect to go to Mars, a seven month journey for Curiosity, the latest rover that landed last week (awesome and perfect name, in my opinion), when they don’t really know how to make a four day journey? You can’t skip the moon, just because your fathers and grandfathers went there.

See you next week.

Beware the Moral High Ground

•August 6, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I almost did a joke “Where We Stand” about the quality of food at everyone’s favorite chicken restaurant, but I realized there was a serious matter to discuss.

Yes, he’s a dumbass for saying what he said. But in America, he has a right to say it. It’s that pesky First Amendment thing. So Boston, Chicago, and San Fran., you’re in the wrong. You’re infringing on the right of an American citizen’s freedom of speech. And you’re giving evidence to the used-to-be-false claim that the government was keeping Christians down. Now thy have ammo. It’s about to get messy.

Good job with that.

See you next week.