Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mendel Day/The Devil's Proof

First, happy Mendel Day, everyone [well, it was Mendel Day when I started typing this. O these accursed smelborp retupmoc]! For those who don't know, Gregor Mendel was a monk who performed experiments on pea plants and discovered the laws of inheritance. He is the one who developed the idea of dominant and recessive genes, and laid the groundwork for the science of genetics.

Now then, on to the Devil's Proof that I've been promising. The Devil's Proof goes like this:
Suppose that you and I are arguing. Your position is that there is a devil living in the woods outside town. Mine is that there is not. My position could be falsified and yours proven if you were to bring me a devil from those woods. Until you do, though, my position should be assumed to be correct.

 This looks like common sense, but sometimes common sense is wrong. So, let's walk through a formal version of the Devil's Proof.

The following material is flagged Red Level. It deals with the blogger's original ideas, personal beliefs, and delusions; and might not be believed by any expert in any field anywhere.
  1. Let us begin with the premise that we seek to hold true beliefs.
  2. Let us add the premise that we are able to change our beliefs, given a proper motive.
  3. Let us add the premise that a belief can be either true or false.
  4. Let us add the premise that a belief can be either falsifiable or non-falsifiable.
  5. Let us add the premise that an experiment or experience can only falsify a belief; never prove it.
  6. Let us add the premise that an experiment or experience will only falsify a false belief.
  7. Let us add the premise that only experiments or experiences can falsify beliefs and that there are no "other ways of knowing".
  8. From 1 and 2, we conclude that the discovery that a belief is false is sufficient cause to change it.
  9. A non-falsifiable belief cannot be falsified by any experiment, by definition.
  10. From 4, 6, and 9, we conclude that the only beliefs that can be falsified by experiment or experience are those that are both false and falsifiable.
  11. Let us consider a belief that is both true and falsifiable. By 7 and 10, we conclude that this belief will never be falsified.
  12. By 1, we conclude that 11 is a desirable outcome.
  13. For  every falsifiable belief that is false, some experiment or experience exists that will falsify it, by definition.
  14. Let us consider a belief that is both false and falsifiable. By 13, we conclude that this belief will be falsified if all experiments and experiences occur.
  15. By 1, we conclude that 14 is a desirable outcome.
  16. Let us consider a belief that is both true and non-falsifiable. By 7 and 10, we conclude that this belief will never be falsified.
  17. By 1, we conclude that 16 is a desirable outcome.
  18. Let us consider a belief that is both false and non-falsifiable. By 7 and 10, we conclude that this belief will never be falsified.
  19. By 1, we conclude that 18 is an undesirable outcome.
  20. By 3, 11, and 14, we conclude that all outcomes of holding falsifiable beliefs are desirable.
  21. By 3, 17, and 19, we conclude that some outcomes of holding non-falsifiable beliefs are undesirable.
  22. By 20 and 21, we conclude that holding falsifiable beliefs is preferable to holding non-falsifiable beliefs.

No comments:

Post a Comment

pleasebecivil
civilitymakesthingseasier
pleesebecivil
civiltymakesthingseasier
pleasebecivilized
civilitymakesthingseesier