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Simulation Argument
Posted: 03 October 2011 06:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Alexander80 - 03 October 2011 05:59 AM

Could it be that God or another Creator only serves the way our brain thinks and understands the world?
Is objectivity possible?

Read Berkeley…

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Posted: 03 October 2011 06:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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GdB - 03 October 2011 06:04 AM
dougsmith - 03 October 2011 04:55 AM

Solipsism is the theory that I am the only thing that exists.

Then its implications were never followed out strictly… I do not think solipsism is a viable theory, because it has no empirical consequences. There are still things happening without me doing them in a solipsist world, and events that are influenced by me. How could I tell the difference between a world that is just my experience and I am not almighty on the one side, and on the other side a normal realistic world in which I am just a part?

I’m not sure what you mean by “a viable theory”. I agree that it’s absurd, but not because it has no empirical consequences. Two theories may be different without being empirically different. We might not be able to distinguish which one’s the correct one empirically but that’s not the point.

The theory that the universe began one minute ago is empirically identical to the theory that it began several billions of years ago. That isn’t to say that they’re the same theory.

Or to say this another way, being empirically the same isn’t being completely the same. We can distinguish theories on other grounds than empirical ones.

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Posted: 03 October 2011 07:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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In any case, people shouldn’t respond to the SA by saying it’s a load of rubbish. Rather they should say that it could but true but that it doesn’t make any difference either way. It doesn’t change anything in science or ethics or politics. We still care about other people, we can still choose to help or harm others, and we still want to use science to figure out what’s going on in the world. This is one thing I agree with Chalmers about. Pondering such things as the SA is not going to turn people into nihilists.

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Posted: 03 October 2011 07:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Dom1978 - 03 October 2011 07:19 AM

In any case, people shouldn’t respond to the SA by saying it’s a load of rubbish. Rather they should say that it could but true but that it doesn’t make any difference either way. It doesn’t change anything in science or ethics or politics. We still care about other people, we can still choose to help or harm others, and we still want to use science to figure out what’s going on in the world. This is one thing I agree with Chalmers about. Pondering such things as the SA is not going to turn people into nihilists.

Well, generally speaking we do say of theories between which we cannot empirically distinguish that one or another of them is a load of rubbish, viz., the one that says that the universe began ten minutes ago. I would assume all of us here are prepared to argue that it’s a load of rubbish.

Similarly, nobody here thinks that each atom has an undetectable leprechaun associated with it. Or two. Or half a dozen. We’d be prepared to say that those theories are loads of rubbish.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that a theory can both be a load of rubbish and possibly-true-but-doesn’t-make-any-difference-either-way.

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Posted: 03 October 2011 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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I suppose what I’m getting at is that a theory can both be a load of rubbish and possibly-true-but-doesn’t-make-any-difference-either-way.

 

Haha. Yeah, I guess I could have been a bit more precise with my language. By ‘load of rubbish’ I meant ‘no way it could be true’. By the way, this Bertrand Russell example you’ve brought up is an interesting one. I’ve often thought that evolutionists should say that either evolution really took place or some slippery trickster higher intelligence made everything look like it took place. These are really your only options, and certain religious fundamentalists can’t live with either of them!

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Posted: 03 October 2011 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Dom1978 - 03 October 2011 07:19 AM

In any case, people shouldn’t respond to the SA by saying it’s a load of rubbish. Rather they should say that it could but true but that it doesn’t make any difference either way. It doesn’t change anything in science or ethics or politics. We still care about other people, we can still choose to help or harm others, and we still want to use science to figure out what’s going on in the world. This is one thing I agree with Chalmers about. Pondering such things as the SA is not going to turn people into nihilists.

It is rubbish, embarrassing rubbish at that. If you read my previous comments you should see why.

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Posted: 03 October 2011 02:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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Dom1978 - 03 October 2011 08:10 AM

I’ve often thought that evolutionists should say that either evolution really took place or some slippery trickster higher intelligence made everything look like it took place. These are really your only options, and certain religious fundamentalists can’t live with either of them!

Sure they can. God works in mysterious ways, remember? smile

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Posted: 03 October 2011 05:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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domokato - 03 October 2011 02:17 PM

Sure they can. God works in mysterious ways, remember? smile

 

But seriously if someone started a new religion saying that their God was indeed a deceiver and just had a weird sense of humor and loved tricking people into thinking that the dinosaurs really walked the earth and so on, what could you say to them in response? Would you have to appeal to Occam’s Razor? Would you just have to say that it’s somehow a simpler explanation that it really happened rather than that it was all set up to look a certain way by a very powerful and very strange higher intelligence? I’m curious about what a ‘simpler’ explanation really amounts to here. In exactly what way is billions of years of ‘real’ history simpler than fake fossils and fake memories and a joker God etc?

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Posted: 03 October 2011 07:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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Dom1978 - 03 October 2011 05:27 PM

But seriously if someone started a new religion saying that their God was indeed a deceiver and just had a weird sense of humor and loved tricking people into thinking that the dinosaurs really walked the earth and so on, what could you say to them in response? Would you have to appeal to Occam’s Razor? Would you just have to say that it’s somehow a simpler explanation that it really happened rather than that it was all set up to look a certain way by a very powerful and very strange higher intelligence? I’m curious about what a ‘simpler’ explanation really amounts to here. In exactly what way is billions of years of ‘real’ history simpler than fake fossils and fake memories and a joker God etc?

I may be wrong but I believe some theists have actually made that argument—either that God has tried to fake us or that Satan has. (Which amounts to the same thing if God is omnipotent). Eventually the argument has to be some form of Occam’s Razor. Though it’s also possible just to say that a trickster God is not perfectly good, and hence not God in the standard sense of the term.

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Posted: 03 October 2011 09:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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dougsmith - 03 October 2011 07:12 PM

I may be wrong but I believe some theists have actually made that argument—either that God has tried to fake us or that Satan has. (Which amounts to the same thing if God is omnipotent). Eventually the argument has to be some form of Occam’s Razor. Though it’s also possible just to say that a trickster God is not perfectly good, and hence not God in the standard sense of the term.

Yeah, we often hear from skeptics that there are these fundamentalists out there who claim that Satan put the fossils there to test our faith and so on, but I’ve certainly never met any of these people.   

My question about simplicity is whether it really amounts to any more than saying that for me a universe without a creator seems simpler, more elegant, more beautiful, more hygienic and so on. I think I remember Thomas Nagel bringing up this problem somewhere. Thesists and atheists both think that their respective worldviews are simpler and more elegant. Does it just boil down to personal preference and aesthetic taste?

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Posted: 03 October 2011 11:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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dougsmith - 03 October 2011 06:57 AM

Or to say this another way, being empirically the same isn’t being completely the same. We can distinguish theories on other grounds than empirical ones.

Sigh… As usual you are right.  blank stare

But Wittgenstein is right! Deutsch’ argument really sounds the same as his.

From there:

There is a standard philosophical joke about a professor who gives a lecture in defence of solipsism. So persuasive is the lecture that as soon as it ends, several enthusiastic students hurry forward to shake the professor’s hand. ‘Wonderful. I agreed with every word,’ says one student earnestly. ‘So did I,’ says another. ‘I am very gratified to hear it,’ says the professor. ‘One so seldom has the opportunity to meet fellow solipsists.’

And for the serious part:

The solipsist, who believes that nothing exists other than the contents of one mind, must also believe that that mind is a phenomenon of greater multiplicity than is normally supposed. It contains other-people-like thoughts, planet-like thoughts and laws-of-physics-like thoughts. Those thoughts are real. They develop in a complex way (or pretend to), and they have enough autonomy to surprise, disappoint, enlighten or thwart that other class of thoughts which call themselves ‘I’. Thus the solipsist’s explanation of the world is in terms of interacting thoughts rather than interacting objects. But those thoughts are real, and interact according to the same rules that the realist says govern the interaction of objects. Thus solipsism, far from being a world-view stripped to its essentials, is actually just realism disguised and weighed down by additional unnecessary assumptions — worthless baggage, introduced only to be explained away.

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Posted: 04 October 2011 04:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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GdB - 03 October 2011 11:28 PM
dougsmith - 03 October 2011 06:57 AM

Or to say this another way, being empirically the same isn’t being completely the same. We can distinguish theories on other grounds than empirical ones.

Sigh… As usual you are right.  blank stare

But Wittgenstein is right!

Well, I don’t think so. Deutsch is playing some crafty word games.

First, let’s just establish that nobody is a willing solipsist. Solipsism is where theories go when they are irrevocably broken; nobody inhabits that space, they only toy with it in order to make a point. Or if their theory forces them there (as I think Hume’s does if it’s taken very seriously) they will deny it to the last breath.

Second, the difference between solipsism and realism is one of metaphysical dependence and temporal priority. The realist has it that the world is both temporally and metaphysically prior to the/your mind. Indeed, your mind is either made up of physical stuff, or it supervenes upon physical stuff. There was physical stuff around long before your mind.

The solipsist must deny all this: it’s rather that the (apparently) physical stuff depends upon your mind for its existence, and that there was no (apparently) physical stuff before your mind existed.

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Posted: 04 October 2011 05:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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dougsmith - 04 October 2011 04:24 AM

The solipsist must deny all this: it’s rather that the (apparently) physical stuff depends upon your mind for its existence, and that there was no (apparently) physical stuff before your mind existed.

I give up on you… wink

Get out of my universe!

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Posted: 04 October 2011 06:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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GdB - 04 October 2011 05:13 AM

I give up on you… wink

Get out of my universe!

LOL

Just wake up and I’ll be gone!

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Posted: 04 October 2011 09:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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Another point to note in the Simulation Argument is that Bostrom’s definitions for the parameters in his formula are inconsistent and lead to erroneous answers.

Bostrom defines the parameters in his formula as:

fp - Fraction of all human-level technological civilizations that survive to reach a posthuman stage
N - Average number of ancestor-simulations run by a posthuman civilization
H - Average number of individuals that have lived in a civilization before it reaches a posthuman stage

Under these definitions Bostrom gives the number of simulated humans as #*fp*N*H. # is the number of real civilizations, it is omitted in Bostrom’s paper because it may be cancelled from the formula for the fraction of simulated individuals.

To illustrate the inconsistency imagine a scenario where there are 10 real civilizations and 5 of these become post-human. The number of individuals that have lived in each of these 5 civilizations before they reached a post-human stage is 1X, 5X, 3X, 16X and 7X respectively. Of these 5 post-human civilizations only the first two run ancestor simulations, the first (with 1X individuals) runs 1000 simulations and the second (with 5X individuals) runs 1000000 simulations.

From the definitions given above we would calculate fp, N and H to be:

fp = 0.5
N = (1000 + 1000000 + 0 + 0 + 0)/5 = 200200
H = (1X + 5X + 3X + 16X + 7X)/5 = 6.4X

As # is 10, Bostrom’s definitions give the number of simulated individuals as 10*0.5*200200*6.4X = 6406400X, but if we do the calculation ourselves then the number of simulated individuals is clearly 1000*1X + 1000000*5X = 5001000X. Therefore there must be an inconsistency somewhere in the definitions given by Bostrom.

The inconsistency arises because the definition of H is wrong. The first obvious error is that Bostrom takes the average over all post-human civilizations, when only two of these actually contribute as the others do not run simulations. Correcting for this would give us a H of (1X + 5X)/2 = 3X and a number of simulated individuals of 3003000X, but we still get a wrong answer because the average should be per simulation not per civilization. Recalculating H in this way gives us:

H = (1X*1000 + 5X*1000000)/(1000 + 1000000) = 4.996004X

and thus we get the correct answer:

Number of simulated individuals = 10*0.5*200200*4.996004X = 5001000X

The above explicitly shows that Bostrom’s use of H as both the average number of individuals per real civilization and the average number of individuals per simulation is entirely improper, if was not completely obvious from the start, as it should have been.

[ Edited: 15 October 2011 11:40 AM by Otis ]
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