Critique of TSW Part 17a Univironmental Analysis

Blog 20140806

Bill does not see univironmental analysis as an improvement on systems analysis, claiming that boundary selection distinguishes them, which it does not.

I am ever so grateful to Bill Westmiller, whose comments are marked "BW: ". The quotes marked TSW are from "The Scientific Worldview" and my comments are marked "[GB: ".

Univironmental Analysis (Part 1 of 2)

TSW:  "I believe them to be preferable to older theories ..."

BW: I'll start with the conclusion, because I don't see anything new in your analytical method. At best, it suggests that the investigator be a little more careful to avoid overlooking significant causative factors.

[GB: Remember that systems analysis unavoidably overemphasizes the microcosm over the macrocosm. That is one reason for the existence of the Big Bang Theory, which is the archetype of systems philosophy. Being a little more careful about “overlooking significant causative factors” is not enough. With all the infinite detail in the universe, we all tend to see things from our individual, unique viewpoints. One specialist sees evidence for pedogenesis, while another sees only dirt. What is especially unique about univironmental analysis is the Eighth Assumption of Science, infinity (The universe is infinite, both in the microcosmic and macrocosmic directions). Bill, as you have pointed out many times, one does not need to assume infinity to do science. That is true—up to a point. Newton’s “unless” in the First Law has gotten us pretty far. To complete the picture, however, we need to replace that word with “until.” Much of what is wrong with regressive physics can be traced to the classical assumption of finity.]   

TSW:  "We can never be absolutely certain what the 'main features' of a univironment are, much less determine their 'primary motions' with perfect accuracy and precision. In short, we make mistakes."

BW: As discussed earlier, it's no surprise that humans are fallible. Every review of scientific methodology I've read is fully cognizant of the lack of omniscience and the imperfections of observation and analysis. I think the critical perspective is to require evidence and logical exposition for any proposition. Those elements can be tested for errors in logic or error bars. Rather than a reference point of "perfection", humans can achieve knowledge of unmitigated truths ... at least until they're mitigated.

[GB: No scientist I know even uses the word “unmitigated”—sounds just as impossible as “perfection.” Neither passes the BS Meter.]

TSW:  "... it is a rare geneticist who emphasizes the nurture side of the argument; it is a rare sociologist who emphasizes the nature side of the argument.

BW: That might be true, if you had stated what argument is being disputed. If it is that human nature is dictated by one or the other, I find it extremely rare that those investigating either aspect (nature/nurture) will totally deny the existence of any other factors.

[GB: The context is the nature-nurture argument, for which examples were given. By insisting that it is a 50:50 interaction, specialists on both sides of the argument are encouraged to perform better analyses. You are right that total denial of the other side is rare. On the other hand, microcosmic and macrocosmic mistakes are common. One of the most famous, of course, was Dawkin’s “The Selfish Gene,” which we might consider systems philosophy gone wild in biology.] 

TSW:  "Unlike many other microcosms, an inflated balloon has a rather clear boundary ..."

BW: Aside from the total subjectivity of "micro" and "macro", I don't think you've adequately addressed the issue of boundaries. My impression is that any boundary whatever violates your Tenth Assumption of "interconnectedness", since a boundary is a quality of being disconnected. Either a boundary exists in reality, or it doesn't. If all "parts" are interconnected, there are no "parts", only a Block Universe.

[GB: This is not surprising, even though I have gone over it many times. Absolutists such as yourself have a good deal of trouble with boundaries, gray areas, and space that is not perfectly empty. As explained in the book, boundaries generally consist of elements of both the microcosm and the macrocosm. Your “Block Universe” idea might be favored by a finite particle theorist who has trouble with scale, but, of course, it could never reflect reality. As mentioned, the Tenth Assumption of Science, Interconnection (All things are interconnected, that is, between any two objects exist other objects that transmit matter and motion), implies that no matter how you slice and dice any microcosm, you will always end up with two parts that appear to be: solid matter and empty space. I say “appear” because these two idealizations cannot exist in nature. The “solid matter” always contains space and the “empty space” always contains matter—at all scales. Otherwise, the necessary transmission of matter and motion could not occur. This works because no two microcosms in the universe are identical, per relativism. One is always more massive or faster than the other, allowing it to displace the weaker one. That is why we are able to walk through doorways even though there already is matter (air) there.]

BW: Occasionally, you waffle with the word "interrelated", without identifying the distinction. In this chapter, you describe boundaries as a figment of human imagination:

TSW:  "... by constructing the imaginary boundaries of the microcosm properly, the 'evidence' for randomness and the implied acausality disappear ..."

BW: You're talking about a saturated salt solution, but you imagine that the chemist is totally oblivious to the nature of sodium and chloride ions. That is almost never the case, since the definition of "saturated" - a boundary condition - is clearly defined by the chemist. Nor would the chemist use that boundary condition to imply any kind of acausality ... even if he can't account for the motion of every molecule of salt in the solution.

[GB: Remember that the debate about the meaning of randomness is by no means moot, especially among regressive physicists. You well state the anti-Copenhagen view, the Third Assumption of Science, uncertainty (It is impossible to know everything about anything, but it is possible to know more about anything). What we consider “random” or “chaotic” is simply what we do not know. Thus, by changing the microcosmic boundary from the entire solution to the individual ion, we may sometimes learn more about how a process works. In any case, the only randomness in the universe appears to be in the heads of the Copenhageners, who pretty much have taken over quantum mechanics.]
TSW:  "... if one views the beaker as an isolated system, the movements within take on a truly miraculous character. Such movements have been mistaken as evidence for a soul, or for 'psychic energy,' ..."

BW: I'm pretty confident that you can't name a single chemist who imagines that ion motion in a salt solution is evidence of a soul, or caused by psychic energy.

[GB: Do not be too sure. There are plenty of folks, including chemists, who consider each motion in the universe as a sign of the supernatural. After all, in the finite universe currently imagined, the “first cause” question is still prevalent. How and why did those little ions get their motions? The “first cause” question becomes illegitimate when the isolation is removed: The infinite universe always has yet another microcosm to provide the concatenation of collisions necessary to the motion.] 

TSW:  "To achieve the state of 'no motion,' this process would have to descend an infinite number of infinitesimal steps toward absolute zero - an impossibility."

BW: However, you've done the same thing with inseparability and "microcosmic" interconnectedness: reduced the boundaries to infinities approaching zero - an impossibility. In my view, these assumptions are not consupponible with the idea of matter in motion. If everything is connected, nothing can move.

[GB: Again, Bill, you are forgetting the Ninth Assumption of Science, relativism (All things have characteristics that make them similar to all other things as well as characteristics that make them dissimilar to all other things). No two microcosms are identical. One always dominates the other—at every scale. The microcosmic end of the scale looks just like the macrocosmic end, with the night sky being a great example. Relatively large microcosms are always surrounded by relatively small supermicrocosms, with both the large and small ones constantly in motion per inseparability. This continues to microcosmic and macrocosmic infinity, which, by definition, is never reached. That would be a contradiction suffered only by absolutists who believe that ideal solid matter could really exist.]  

Next: Univironmental Analysis (Part 2 of 2)

cotsw 036

1 comment:

Bligh said...

Critique of TSW Part 17a Univironmental Analysis
Blog 20140806
Re: [GB……..The Selfish Gene…..] I don’t think I have even read that one, but it is clear from reading Dawkins “The Blind Watchmaker” that he was not confused by his own title, i.e. The Selfish Gene. What he meant was that it appeared that there was a survival/selfish aspect to the apparent outcome of what genes do. He knows full well that it is all causality and determination that leads to survival of the fittest. I will quote from the Back Fly of The Blind Watchmaker.
“Natural selection-the unconscious, automatic, blind, yet essentially non random process that Darwin discovered-has no purpose in mind.”
He has taken some poetic liberty with his language. That is how you sell a lot of books.
Re: BW….”If everything is connected nothing can move.” BW, Parmenides made that error. That’s excusable since it was 2500 years ago, but the deepest understanding of QP shows that all is due to oscillation between two states. It is motion that is matter, that makes up matter. Matter (as I define it, not GB) is a semi-stable arrangement of motion. Bosons etc. etc. The totality of this oscillation can be conceived of as a “Field.” The field can be thought of as being the potentiality of the relative motions of semi-stable forms of matter. Like quarks and EM photons etc. Sorry if that sounds strange. I am still working on the language to express this more fully. GB tends to stay away from QP. I think he is planning another book perhaps?