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Shepherd

Registered: 02-2006
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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


quote:


I don't understand how being a 'regress argument' invalidates the argument against the dragon really exisiting.




1. Sagan's example is not a regress argument in the truest sense. Merely a closely related variation.

2. I was merely pointing out that Sagan's reasoning is nothing new. This is an argument that has been going on for ages, and is not merely proven fact vs. metaphysics, but lies closer to the heart of "how to we define knowledge" or "validate a statement."

3. I'll get back to this later. I'm trying to make up about 2000 words in Nano as I'm a bit behind.

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11/5/2007, 1:22 pm Link to this post Email BaneBlade   PM BaneBlade
 
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Knight of Honor

Registered: 11-2005
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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


quote:

David Meadows wrote:
I think that we can say, until further evidence turns up, that gravity does exist. Equally, we can say that, until real evidence turns up, the dragon in Sagan's garage doesn't exist.

Result!

If this 'regress argument' can show that we should accept the reality of gravity and also show that we should not (without further proof) accept the dragon in Sagan's garage, that seems like a good argument and a useful tool.



Exactly, Meadows. Thanks for explaining it better than I could. emoticon

And Bane, I really, honestly am not trying to pick on you or argue pointlessly here, but I don't see what you're trying to say. Okay, so Sagan's argument doesn't fit neatly into the category of "regress argument". Okay, so it's "nothing new". Big deal. I sincerely doubt he was hoping for a prize as a metaphysicist when he wrote it. He was trying to make a point and use logic to show people how to deal with a new situation.

You wrote earlier:
quote:

The dragon example that Sagan gives is easily countered.



I'm interested in seeing HOW. I use similar logic to Sagan's in many of my typical debates, and I'd like to see how such arguments could be countered. So once you're done with your NaNo -- and good luck with that!! -- I'm wondering if you'd be willing to use this case by Sagan as an example.

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Knight of Honor

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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


SIDENOTE! I read this line when it was posted and it didn't strike me particularly, but it's stuck in my mind ever since and has started to pester me:

quote:

BaneBlade wrote:
I like my Sagan where he belongs, explaining to me what color the universe appears to be as I approach an event horizon.



But... why doesn't Sagan (and ANY other halfway educated person) also "belong" in discussions about life, the truth of the universe and things in it, politics, society, and so on? After all, such topics directly impact all of us. And surely, as a human being, he knows as much or more about human beings than he does things he can only see through a telescope.

As citizens living in a democracy, I'd say that not only should we be allowed to think about such things and make comments, but we should be ENCOURAGED to do so. I think that claiming that astronomers (for example) only understand astronomy and thus should have no viable opinions about human society is.... well, short-sighted, at best. After all, astronomers are part of human society. Why should their thoughtful input be valued less than the thoughtful input of anyone else?

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Lady of the Land

Registered: 05-2003
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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


It's a little funny to see you arguing about "the one truth" - something most scientists believe they are looknig for.

Studying constructivism, it's just as easy to say there are many truths, and we only sort of work to agree on a version that most of us can live with.

That's because of the way our brains are wired, and how personal experience shapes beliefs. We can set up rules on how to agree on "truth", but ... every generation has its own version of it, in a way. I doubt that people way back thought they were not saying the truth when they believed Earth was flat - we just found a way to make most people believe it's not. There are very few who have actually walked (or flown) all around Earth and come back to where they started. The rest of us have made up their minds to believe that.

Okay, I'll shut up now, before I confuse this argument even more. Heh.

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Knight of Honor

Registered: 11-2005
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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


quote:

Firlefanz wrote:
I doubt that people way back thought they were not saying the truth when they believed Earth was flat - we just found a way to make most people believe it's not. There are very few who have actually walked (or flown) all around Earth and come back to where they started. The rest of us have made up their minds to believe that.



I understand what you're saying, but I would argue that just because people THINK something is true, and ACT as if it is true, that doesn't make it ACTUALLY true. Don't get me wrong: knowing what people believe (whether they are right or wrong) is very important, because it lets us understand why they do things. To negate someone's believe just because it's based on inaccurate facts is foolish, because they're still going to act as if it was true. But on the other hand, just because they believe it, that doesn't turn their opinions into facts.

The example you gave about the flat-Earth / round-Earth issue is a good one (and an easy-to-understand one). If someone honestly believes the Earth is flat, then he's probably going to have different opinions than someone else who believes the Earth is round. These differences of opinion could manifest themselves in, say, an argument on global warming or a discussion about men going to the moon. Such differences can affect politics, education, and many parts of daily life. The differences -- and their impacts -- are not trivial.

But, still, there is only one truth in this case. Either the Earth is round or it's flat. It really can't be both at once. A simple test that any of us can do to figure out which hypothesis (flat or round Earth) is the truth is the following:

Find a tall building or hill in a relatively flat area where there are few other buildings or hills around. First, stand on the flat ground in front of the hill. Note the farthest thing you can see. Let's say for this example, that it's the very top of a tall building a long way off. (A tree or a mountain peak would also work.)

Now stand on the top of the tall hill building behind you. What is the farthest thing you can see now? If the hill/building is tall enough, you'll be able to see further away -- you'll see the top half of the building, instead of just the tip, for example.

The reason this works is easy to explain, even to a child. It's because the Earth is (approximately) spherical, so their is a horizon line. On a flat planet, there would be no horizon line -- you'd be able to see forever, as long as the air was very clear. You'd see no further standing on a hill than on flat ground, because the surface of the Earth has no curvature in the vertical dimension. The evidence before our eyes shows that Earth is curved. Since you can run this same test anywhere on the surface, it must be a closed curved surface, and we must live on the "outside" of it (the convex side). So the Earth must be vaguely spherical or elliptic. You don't need to fly in an airplane or spacecraft, or have any fancy equipment to see this. You just need to observe the world.

(There's also a really neat proof of this involving solar eclipses, which the Greeks used to prove the Earth was round, but that's a little more complicated and, worse, requires an eclipse to see!)

So using just basic observations, anyone can see that the Earth is round. So... why should he listen calmly when his neighbor tells him the world is flat? Why not, instead, take him out to the hill and SHOW him that it isn't? Prove it to him?

There are some things we don't know the truth to yet. Maybe we'll never know all of the truth. I'm okay with that. But on those things that we can observe, why should be pretend we haven't seen them? The Earth IS round. When people think otherwise, why shouldn't we try to show them (politely) that they are wrong?

When a child spells the word "cat" as "kat", his parent will gently correct him. It doesn't matter that the child BELIEVES that cat is spelled with a k -- he's still wrong. Why do we think children should be corrected but not adults? When have we decided that people should stop learning -- and why?

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11/5/2007, 7:34 pm Link to this post Email Reythia   PM Reythia AIM MSN
 
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Shepherd

Registered: 02-2006
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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


quote:

Reythia wrote:

SIDENOTE! I read this line when it was posted and it didn't strike me particularly, but it's stuck in my mind ever since and has started to pester me:

quote:

BaneBlade wrote:
I like my Sagan where he belongs, explaining to me what color the universe appears to be as I approach an event horizon.



But... why doesn't Sagan (and ANY other halfway educated person) also "belong" in discussions about life, the truth of the universe and things in it, politics, society, and so on? After all, such topics directly impact all of us. And surely, as a human being, he knows as much or more about human beings than he does things he can only see through a telescope.

As citizens living in a democracy, I'd say that not only should we be allowed to think about such things and make comments, but we should be ENCOURAGED to do so. I think that claiming that astronomers (for example) only understand astronomy and thus should have no viable opinions about human society is.... well, short-sighted, at best. After all, astronomers are part of human society. Why should their thoughtful input be valued less than the thoughtful input of anyone else?




Whoa, whoa, whoa! That's a broad brush you paint with. I stick my foot in my mouth enough without needing anyone to have a go at fitting some words in there.

I think you're making inferrences where there need not be any made.

I have railed against the American belief that "the populace" is better off letting decisions be made by people with experience, knowledge, education etc. in politics as being counter to the intent of the constitution and it's framers, in political orginizations which I have participated in, in E-zines which I have written for, and as a ghost writer for several groups.

My beliefs regarding ethics, morality, etc. pretty much mirror that.

I'm also willing to bet that within the last two weeks, 2-3 members of this forum have heard me voice this in chat. Several others through other forms.

When I said: "I like my Sagan where he belongs, explaining to me what color the universe appears to be as I approach an event horizon."

I meant exactly that, and just that. I have thoroughly enjoyed Sagans hard science books. Most of them are a bit beyond my ken, so I wind up learning alot from them. However I do not like his soft science/philosopical/ethical works. This is due to the fact that I expect them to be delivered in a certain manner if they are to hold weight. Do you address counter arguments in a scientific paper? Do you seek to prove not only the principle you are espousing but it's relationship to other related theory? Much like abstract physics, epistemology deals with concepts which we can only argue as true/false if we assume other underlying principles to be true or false. I'm certain if you look at quantum physics, string theory, or m-theory, you can find parallels.

Note that I'm not stating weither I do or don't agree with Sagan's theory. I'm saying that I don't agree with the way that he is proving it. I often agree with opinions but cannot support their proponents due to thier weak Epistemological foundations.

This distinction is important. My statement was not made in regards to Sagan's occupation, or the number of degree's on his wall (It would of course be hypocritical of me to do so, since I never pursued a degree in these fields.) If a plumber unites all philosophical theories into a cohesive unit that can be proven without doubt, I'll buy it at full price.

In short that statement was made not due to Sagan's profession, but due to my enjoyment of the end product of the two subjects.

-David there's some really good logic and reasoning in your post (and all of Rey's as well) hopefully I'll get some time to point out some other theories and arguments that are related to yours. After Nano!

-Rey frankly I'ld find the process of writing a formal argument to Sagans theory daunting.

1. It would be a huge task to do it properly. At it's smallest it would be equal to a doctorate thesis (many are just that) and at it's largest...well many books by famous philosophers are nothing more than that.

2. Which school of philosophy would I choose to argue from? I don't personally ascribe to any in particular. (Think about the way we concieve of events through different models of space and time. Similiar problem.)

3. Sagan's made it a bit hard on me as well. By not defining his underlying epistemology. I'll make a broad guess that it's generally influenced by the scientific method. (Which came from a philosophical school of thought. Alot of big names here: Descartes, Hume, Locke... ack! it's been along time since I've had to think about these things in so much detail.) Unfortunately this means I would have to both point out and guess at a vast number of foundational beliefs (They are unfortunately necessary for a complete argument. Generally we would assume some of them to exist or be true based on the schools of philosophy we are arguing in. But I can't do that in this case because I haven't been given the information. [hence my disgruntlement])

4. Imagine how much vocabulary and basic concepts we would wind up having to define.

Which is all to say: Give me a degree or pay me and I'll do it!

We can continue the discussion but I can't conceive of an easy way to do the argument justice (which means I'm a bad philosopher since a philospher should be able to espouse his entire theory standing on one foot [little inside reference for you there}).

I considered starting a thread on Epistomology and Philosophy in general as a way to get everyone speaking the same language, but that in itself is a huge task. Where would we start? Chronologically with Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and work our way up to the guys that give me headaches, Kant (hard), Spinoza (very hard, practically invented his own language)....or by school?

Frankly I think there is alot that would interest you (Have you heard any of the philosophical/epistemological ramifications of quantum theory? Imagine what it does to simple theories of justification if we hold that the observer can affect what he's observing. And Schroedinger (sp) ack! there's another one...)

Anyway I'm happy to continue dialogue (If it's civil and we don't go calling each other statists, collectivists etc. anymore. ) but we need a better way, and a later date.

Edited to add: To be fair I'ld guess from Sagans' obvious IQ and the crowd that he runs with that he's more than familiar with most of these concepts. Perhaps his publisher wanted it dumbed down. It doesn't change my appraisal of the end products. But, maybe from your POV he dumbs down the astronomy too much. Such is life.

How do you like listening to movie and rock stars giving political opinions on TV? Does your answer run counter to your above political statement? I know mine does. emoticon I guess that makes me a hypocrite. But I can think of a few ways to weasel my way out, short of drinking the penultimate tea. *grins*


Last edited by BaneBlade, 11/6/2007, 1:35 pm


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11/6/2007, 12:58 am Link to this post Email BaneBlade   PM BaneBlade
 
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Shepherd

Registered: 02-2006
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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


*waits for Firle to point out that he just typed 1027 words that could have gone to his Nano count* emoticon

Last edited by BaneBlade, 11/6/2007, 1:15 am


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11/6/2007, 1:14 am Link to this post Email BaneBlade   PM BaneBlade
 
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Lady of the Land

Registered: 05-2003
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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


*patpats*

Nah, it's good to think of something else for a while. Hope your story is alive and kicking! emoticon

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Grand Master

Registered: 01-2005
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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


quote:

Firlefanz wrote:
That's because of the way our brains are wired, and how personal experience shapes beliefs. We can set up rules on how to agree on "truth", but ... every generation has its own version of it, in a way. I doubt that people way back thought they were not saying the truth when they believed Earth was flat - we just found a way to make most people believe it's not. There are very few who have actually walked (or flown) all around Earth and come back to where they started. The rest of us have made up their minds to believe that.



Firle elucidates an interesting point and one which I often have tried to use in past debates.

Unfortunately, the person taking the skeptics' stance generally interprets it in the same way as You did Reythia. emoticon

The analogy is brought up between scientific truth and belief and the skeptic automatically assigns that to the point they are trying to counter instead of stepping back and realizing that it was truly about their own point.

It wasn't really about flat-earthers who still exist but educated persons taking on a belief which they percieve at the time as being correct.
While the post refuting the Flat earth position was very interesting and we all agree with it, it is talking about past belief based on current knowledge.
This happens all the time.

I forgot why I started this post. Blast. I got distracted! emoticon It's early and I'm tired.

Anyway, this discussion is very interesting, keep it going. emoticon If I remember the rest of my argument I'll post again.

I'll just reiterate that extreme skepticism and extreme gullibility should be avoided at all costs. One is as terrible as the other.

and

Just because you think you know something and have evidence does not make it true. emoticon Correlation does not equal causation. emoticon

I really am sleepy....

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11/6/2007, 2:34 pm Link to this post Email Loud G   PM Loud G AIM Blog
 
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Shepherd

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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


Hmmm, I'm not entirely sure where you were going, but the basic idea within epistemological science is, is that past opinions don't matter. And that there is basically only one real truth. Or in other words, the universe only works in one way and that is the truth. There isn't any room in there for personal interpretation, belief or anything like that in it.

Of course real world seen that is an ideal which isn't quite reachable, there are issues etc etc. But one thing remains the same, which is that it isn't Truth which is mutable, but belief and that those two should be kept neatly separate because confusing the two makes for all kinds of problems.
11/6/2007, 4:02 pm Link to this post Email QS2   PM QS2
 
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Lady of the Land

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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


QS, the concept of "truth" works for things we can easily measure. That's what science does, and that's good. Measuring is a fine way to make people agree on a single truth.

But how do you measure meaning? How do you measure tone of voice, interpret the glance someone gives you, the words on a page, or even the color you see in the clouds? How do you catch a thought or record a memory?

These things are shaped by the experiences each individal person makes, and they are different from moment to moment. It's here that we find many truths. It's what limits science, and honestly - sometimes I'm glad it does.

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11/6/2007, 4:20 pm Link to this post Email Firlefanz   PM Firlefanz Blog
 
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Shepherd

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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


How we perceive reality personally and how we interpret those perceptions has little to do with truth, but everything to do with belief. As in it is your belief based on what you perceive that something is so and so, this does not make it true though.

I suppose for certain definitions of truth your statement might be true, but I find that to be to far from what you usually use the word true for. As such I can not see in any way how this limits science, it has little to do with normal science, because you aren't studying truths.

PS, you could actually measure each of those things in a quantifiable way if you really wanted to..., but it isn't typically done for various reasons.
11/6/2007, 6:04 pm Link to this post Email QS2   PM QS2
 
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Knight of Honor

Registered: 11-2005
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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


quote:

Baneblade said:
In short that statement was made not due to Sagan's profession, but due to my enjoyment of the end product of the two subjects.



Ah, I see. My apologies. I misinterpreted your comment then. To be fair, I've also been engaged in a totally different conversation with a different person who would have thought what I assumed you did. That's probably how I got my wires crossed. emoticon Anyhow, sorry to put inaccurate words in your mouth.

quote:

LoudG said:
The analogy is brought up between scientific truth and belief and the skeptic automatically assigns that to the point they are trying to counter instead of stepping back and realizing that it was truly about their own point.

It wasn't really about flat-earthers who still exist but educated persons taking on a belief which they percieve at the time as being correct.
While the post refuting the Flat earth position was very interesting and we all agree with it, it is talking about past belief based on current knowledge.
This happens all the time.

I forgot why I started this post. Blast. I got distracted.



Haha! Well, Loud, holler if you remember what you were trying to get at. emoticon

My point (in that very LONG comment of mine) was that even though people thousands of years ago believed that the Earth was flat, and even though that knowledge is important if you're trying to understand their actions, that doesn't make the believe that the Earth is flat TRUE.

It seems there are two definiions of "truth" here. Correct me if I am wrong:

1.) Truth is defined by observation. There is one set of "truths" in the universe, and those define our physical (and possibly non-physical) surroundings perfectly. We human beings do not know the full set of these truths, and many of those we do claim to know, we may know incorrectly or incompletely. Many followers of this definition believe that, ideally, we humans are generally approaching the real "truth", but only assymptotically.

2.) Truth is defined by belief. This means that if two people contemplate an issue and end up with differing opinions, both opinions are still "true". Individual experiences largely determine what one person believes to be true or false. Truth therefor changes with time and between people. The idea of "improvement" or "approaching truth" is meaningless in this case, since truth always exists.

Yes? No? Corrections, anyone? Additions of more potential definitions?

I would argue that the REAL discussion here is about the definition of the word "truth". Clearly, options 1 and 2 are not the same. In many senses, they are actually opposite each other. In a debate, it would thus be unlikely for a person using the first definition to match opinions -- or even to argue successfully with -- a person using the second definition. Probably it would merely provoke frustration.

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11/6/2007, 8:07 pm Link to this post Email Reythia   PM Reythia AIM MSN
 
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Squire

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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


So, what is truth?

Is it true that if I drop an apple, gravity will make it fall? (no, it's not)

Is it true that there is a dragon in that guy's garage? (yes, it is)

Okay: so a time traveller comes back, and tells you Einstein was wrong. In the future Einstein will proven wrong. This is true. Will you believe him? (probably not) He presents evidence. (still probably not). People get ideas in their heads, and they can't get them out.

Take Reythia, should we all give overwhelming evidence she is wrong, will she join our camp? I doubt it.

There are six billion perceptions of truth, and every single one is true. If six billion people believe in gravity, that makes it no less true than if one person believes in a dragon - it just makes it more popular.



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11/7/2007, 12:40 pm Link to this post Email Blitzen   PM Blitzen
 
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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


I do not think this discussion will get any further if we try to use common terms, I suggest we use something like epistemological terms otherwise, though if someone wants to suggest something else which is more useful yet?

So to shortly summarize the epistemological framework to everyone.

Basically in this framework, ideas that people have are called beliefs, every person has their own.
Following this you have A true belief and a false belief. True Belief describes something which actually correctly describes reality and False Belief for something that doesn't. Where True is defined I believe as in describing actually reality as it really is.
And yet a layer higher you can also have a Justified True Belief, where not only do you believe in something, it is also true and you even have a just belief for thinking it so. (Obviously the opposite is an unjustified true/false belief and means you have no justification for your belief)

Now working from this framework, obviously not all beliefs of people are true, in fact most are probably false. Obviously this doesn't stop the world from working or anything like that. More interestingly they may perhaps even have justification for thinking of their idea. But justified or not..., within epistemology at least truth is not something that is flexible, you are either describing reality or you are not. And thus no matter if it is one or many or any other kind of variation you may care to name, if it is false then it will stay false.

(And this is why many science people get their bristles up when you start talking about flexible truth. It goes totally against the basic philosophy of science and them being scientists they have a tendency to use scientific philosophy when discussing anything covering 'truth')



PS Einstein is already know for a long time to be wrong, he just has a fantastic approximation of reality. Better then Newtons by far I have to add. emoticon However, there are still problems and it fails to describe everything properly, so the physicists are still hard at working every day looking for an even better alternative.
11/7/2007, 6:46 pm Link to this post Email QS2   PM QS2
 
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Knight of Honor

Registered: 11-2005
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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


quote:

Blitzen wrote:
Is it true that if I drop an apple, gravity will make it fall? (no, it's not)
Is it true that there is a dragon in that guy's garage? (yes, it is)



...Okay, I admit it. This just confused me. You don't "believe" in gravity? What made the apple fall, then? Now, mind you, as a scientist I recognize that we may be wrong about the fundamental, sub-atomic reasons behind gravity (actually, we pretty much admit that we don't understand why gravity works yet). But even so, I'm pretty confident that in the absense of other forces, when the apple detatches from the tree, it's going to go down. What pulls it that direction is given the name gravity, and the speed at which it falls is approximated very well by some simple rules.

I do not understand what you're implying by this pair of statements at all. In fact, I don't even understand what you're saying about the one that DOESN'T involve a potentially nonexistant dragon! Please, explain.

quote:

Okay: so a time traveller comes back, and tells you Einstein was wrong. In the future Einstein will proven wrong. This is true. Will you believe him? (probably not) He presents evidence. (still probably not). People get ideas in their heads, and they can't get them out.



Err.... First off, you DO realize that Einstein's already been proven wrong, I hope? Or rather, it's been shown that just as Einstein's rules improved upon Newton's, so do quantum mechanics and its cousins improve upon Einstein's relativity.

I suspect that if this time traveler came back and said, "Einstein is wrong" with no evidence, then you'd be right -- scientists would ignore him. But if he came back and said "Einstein is wrong" and then presented a fully-derived equation set and several concrete, repeatable experiments we could use to test the new "correct" theory, then many scientists would be willing to think twice at what he's saying. You're right, of course, they would be highly skeptical at the start -- that's only natural. But if they went through and showed that the derivation worked, and then saw that the experiments modelled the known universe in a measurably better way (as Einstein demonstrated by better predicting Mercury's orbit, for example), well then I think that a lot of scientists WOULD be convinced to change their minds. It might take a decade full of tests and alternative proposed hypotheses, but if observation better fit the time traveler's theory, then I suspect that science would be altered accordingly.

As proof of this, I present the full history of science, in which this series of events (minus time traveller, of course!) has occured over and over. Blitzen, that's exactly how new theories in science are proven. So, as long as the time traveller could present proof that could be tested with observation, why WOULDN'T the scientists accept it?

quote:

Take Reythia, should we all give overwhelming evidence she is wrong, will she join our camp? I doubt it.



Wrong. GIVE me overwhelming evidence -- an experiment that I can repeat over and over again with different parameters -- and I WILL change my mind. I've already changed it on a number of social and scientific topics before, so why wouldn't I change it here? The thing is, no one has ever offered anything I would consider even passable proof.

quote:

There are six billion perceptions of truth, and every single one is true. If six billion people believe in gravity, that makes it no less true than if one person believes in a dragon - it just makes it more popular.



Ok, so I ask once again, does this definition of truth that you have here match what I said in my second definition in my above response? I really want to know if I'm misunderstanding you or not. We can't have a meaningful discussion if we don't understand the terms each other is using, which is why I posted my two definitions before. Help me out, please! Is what I said what you really mean when you say "truth"?

Last edited by Reythia, 11/7/2007, 7:52 pm


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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


Haha! I clearly should have read QS's point before responding to Blitzen myself. emoticon Sorry for the overlap, everyone!

quote:

QS2 wrote:
So to shortly summarize the epistemological framework to everyone.



Thanks for the description. I can work in those terms. (Remind me if I slip out of them, though!)

quote:

And this is why many science people get their bristles up when you start talking about flexible truth. It goes totally against the basic philosophy of science and them being scientists they have a tendency to use scientific philosophy when discussing anything covering 'truth'



I agree. Most scientists are aware that beliefs might change. Most also accept that science, as our "best" description of the world is also at the root a "belief". That's why it's always changing as we update it. The goal in changing this scientific belief is to bring that belief closer to actual Truth. And scientists define that Truth largely by means of observations of various types.

quote:

PS Einstein is already know for a long time to be wrong, he just has a fantastic approximation of reality. Better then Newtons by far I have to add. emoticon However, there are still problems and it fails to describe everything properly, so the physicists are still hard at working every day looking for an even better alternative.



Hehe -- ever heard of Modified Newtonin Dynamics (MoND), QS? It's a fascination attempt running along these lines. emoticon

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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


I asked about gravity, Reythia, because I knew that you'd be too scientific to let that one pass. The trick is, the question isn't quantified.

If I am standing on earth and I drop an apple, gravity will make it fall. If I'm standing in an orbiting space shuttle in zero gravity and I drop an apple, it won't fall. The reason why is gravity. (Okay, its the absence of gravity, but by being absent it reflects its presence).

Your truth was the truth of your perception. You immediately went "oh, I'm a scientist, I know he's wrong." Then tried to prove it.

My point is, there is no "real" truth, no "true" truth. If someone believes a dragon is in their garage, then a dragon is in their garage (or at least, the version of garage in their head).

Try to explain to my three year old that Santa isn't real, there's no evidence he could exist, blah blah, blah, and she'll think you're either lying or your nuts. For her, a world without Santa simply doesn't exist.

Another example: I know my wifes the most beautiful woman in the world. Loud G probably knows his wife is the most beautiful woman in the world. If he does, we're both right, both statements are fundamentally true, because there is no truth beyond what we perceive.

Here's something you can test: go stand outside in shorts and t-shirt or underwear or something, then go in a normal temperature bath - you'll think its nearly boiling. Wrap up in lots of clothes on a hot day and do star jumps for ten minutes and the same bath will seem very cold. So, is the exact same temperature water hot or cold? Which is true?

_______

PS I apologise, not being a scientist I didn't realise Einstein was wrong. But apply my theory to something else then.

I'm sure you could change your views in a narrow scientific application, I hope you can change them in a broader application, but I in my experience scientists are the most narrow minded people in the world. Ever. (Not all scientists, just the majority).

_________

PPS Do you have a partner, Reythia? Are you in love? Can you quantify, measure it, do an experiment to prove to me that love exists? Probably not, yet I believe it does, so do most people who have experienced it.

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11/7/2007, 8:25 pm Link to this post Email Blitzen   PM Blitzen
 
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I'm going to change the last comment away from partners. It can refer to parents, siblings, children, your comic collection, your pet, anything.

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11/7/2007, 8:29 pm Link to this post Email Blitzen   PM Blitzen
 
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I'd like to make two points here, please.

1) It's very important to me as the person who run this board that members keep discussions friendly, and free of personal slugs. It's a question of individual respect for each of the members. It's not gone that way yet, but I see the potential - thus the reminder.

2) I agree with Reythia that at the bedrock of this discussion is a disagreement on the way the term "Truth" is being used. I'd say there has been a misunderstanding about two different meanings of this word.

Scientists tend to define "truth" in a rather narrow way. Truth in this kind of use means something that has been proven often enough to be accepted as fact by scientists and which can be used to work with in scientific theories. QS explained that rather well.

However, there is another definition of "truth" that is more commonly used by non-scientists. QS called this "belief", which might seem like an insult to a non-scientist. In this way of using the word, "truth" means everything we believe to be true, or even everything we "know" is true (in a non-scientific and rather individual way). With this concept of "truth", the things that are true can actually change over time, even for the same person.

In other words, something that a scientist declares as "true" or "not-true" is very different from what a person would call "true" outside of a scientific concept.

And I believe that's what we were arguing about. emoticon

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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


quote:

Firlefanz wrote:
However, there is another definition of "truth" that is more commonly used by non-scientists. QS called this "belief", which might seem like an insult to a non-scientist. In this way of using the word, "truth" means everything we believe to be true, or even everything we "know" is true (in a non-scientific and rather individual way). With this concept of "truth", the things that are true can actually change over time, even for the same person.

In other words, something that a scientist declares as "true" or "not-true" is very different from what a person would call "true" outside of a scientific concept.



I agree, Firle.

I should also point out that non-provable but opinionated comments such as "I think my wife is the most beautiful woman in the world" are also considered "true" by scientists, as long as the words "I think" are included. Scientists recognize that some things are subjective: when different people have different ideas about the same topic. Many social issues fit into this category of "true, but subjective". Science is poorly designed to study these things, which is why there are few scientists in many social fields.

But scientists also believe that there are many things which are NOT subjective, but are rather objective or absolute. Science is designed to study these things.

Here's a simple example to show that some things are absolute. Imagine that you are blindfolded and earplugs are placed in your ears. You are taken somewhere and then thrown out into what seems to be a field full of tall grass. You stand up without taking off the blindfold and run a few steps to avoid your possible pursuers. *SMACK!* You hit a tree.

A second earlier, you would not have believed there was a tree there. It was a non-entity, not "truth" as you believed it. But after you hit it, something changed. I suspect that Blitzen would claim that "truth" changed, using his definition. But in the scientific definition, the position of the tree is absolute -- it has always been there, regardless of what you thought. Instead, it is your perception of truth that has changed. Specifically, your perception of truth was altered based on the observation that you hit the tree. Your previous belief ("this is an open field") has to be altered based on your new experience: "this is a field with at least one tree in it."

Such experiences are not "narrow scientific applications", but rather a daily part of human life. Ever see a toddler run full-speed across the floor, then fall down with a *plunk!* on her butt? They look so stunned when that happens! You can practically see the thought going through their little brains: "Whoa! How did I get here?" Toddlers don't "believe in" gravity -- it isn't "true" for them, Blitzen might say. But it affects them nonetheless. And eventually, after many experiences of falling down, they come to understand that gravity is just a part of life -- and their "belief" in gravity changes. I would argue that the "truth" (that gravity pulls you down) has been constant all along. It's only the child's perspective that changes.

Blitzen, believe it or not, most scientists AGREE that many things are subjective. At the lunch table today, we "narrow minded people" discussed opera and the Santa Fe opera house. It turns out that some of us like opera and some don't -- and we all have reasons for our opinions. But though we all had different "beliefs", we recognize that there's no "truth" to be found in a purely subjective opinion. We didn't try convincing each other that they were believing something "untrue" -- it wouldn't have made sense. Believe it or not, most scientists recognize that.

All we ask is that others recognize that sometimes things CAN be objective and absolute. That tree being in front of you isn't a matter of opinion. Light doesn't care what you think about it; it's going to travel at the same speed regardless. And gravity exists EVERYWHERE, even in space, regardless of whether people know it or not. Those that don't are usually ridiculed by other scientists.

Blitzen, I really, honestly, don't understand how you can claim that the statement "the keyboard I am touching is made of jello" can be both true AND false. Every experience we have impacts our beliefs, we agree upon that. I accept that some things cannot have absolute truths. Why won't you accept that some thing can? Why go on claiming to believe that your keyboard may be made of jello, when you can determine that it isn't with so little effort?

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Grand Master

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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


You tree example is perfect Reythia.

I for one hold to the belief that truth is absolute. There is only one reality and it is true.

However, science is not truth, merely a compilation of events in an attempt to describe and understand truth. I believe in science, but it doesn't mean that it is a perfect mirror or truth/reality.

Your tree example is very good for explaining all of us running around here on this little planet. The tree represents truth. The supernatural can also be true. It could just be that tree that you have not personally run into.

And just because you hit a tree doesn't mean you automatically know what it is. SOMEone might run into it and think it was an ostrich, someone else a tree, and someone else a brick wall. It is very similar to the "Elephant and the blind men" bit where they all perceive something different.

The truth is singular but perception taints it. The supernatural could occur on a regular basis but perception might seek a "rational explanation".

We are all a bit like blind men running around here trying to figure out the wrld around us.

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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


Exactly, LoudG.

And if there are many perceptions of truth, but only one actual truth, then it's reasonable to try to figure out which of those perceptions (if any) is true. Thus far (and it could change tomorrow), I have not seen any clear evidence of that those perceptions that support supernatural things. But, as you say, I could be wrong. If I "run into a tree" and learn something new, then that could change my belief on the issue. I accept that.

But until that happens, I will follow those observations I have already made in my life, and remain skeptical. :-)

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I wrote a very elegant argument that would have stunned you all, but downtime ate it. emoticon

I will concede that we are never likely to agree as we have different definitions of truth.


I am not scientifically minded in anyway, so I probably represent the majority of people. The tree analogy sums up perfectly the scientific mind set, in my opinion. I would walk slowly with my hands outstretched because I don't know what is in front of me. It is true that I don't know what is in front of me - my truth is fluid.

Scientists, to my mind, are too obsessed with a make-believe absolute.

There is no tree. Bang. There could be a tree. Test it. There is a tree. New evidence. It's actually a log cabin.

There could be anything. Yep, there is something.

If I was an ancient Greek, my scientist would tell me the world is round. If I was a dark ager, I would be told that its flat. Nowadays, I am told it is round.

How do I know you're telling me the truth? (PS, Reythia, if you tell me you have a jell-o keyboard, I have to accept that maybe you do, new technological advances and all that. I can't, from thousands of miles away, prove you don't).

Ok, you show me a picture of the earth from space. Lovely. Here's a picture of a dragon, found it on the internet... (could be the one in the garage)

Ah, you say, test the horizon, surely you must admit the earth curves. Ever heard of a half sphere, I counter. You haven't proved we live on a ball.

Go around the world in an aeroplane, you say. Okay, but have you seen the optical illusion with the two parallel lines that seem to get nearer as they retreat into the distance? How can I believe my eyes?

About the only way I could "know" the earth is a sphere is if I went into space, yet you expect me to believe it is, because a scientist says so.

Scientists mock the religious people that say the earth is 10, 000 years old, but the only proof it isnt we have is the word of scientists. I don't know that dinosaurs died out 64 million years ago. I don't know that they didn't die out 7000 years ago. All I know is what has personally affected me in the twenty five years of my life.

Yet scientists expect me to take their word as gospel, whilst dismissing the supernatural and religion out of hand and Reythia, our scientist, just told me she has a jell-o keyboard and expects me to disbelieve her.

My main gripe with scientists is that we see none of the working out, probably because we wouldn't understand it, and are given only the answers.

A scientist gives us the Absolute Truth.
Another scientist proves him wrong.
We have a new Absolute Truth.
A team of scientists prove her wrong.
We have a new Absolute Truth...
And this goes on forever, all the whilst they expect us to think they know what they're talking, and they moan at our ignorance...

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11/8/2007, 1:27 pm Link to this post Email Blitzen   PM Blitzen
 
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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


Those are interesting frustrations Blitzen, but if you like we could page through all the literature to see if there are answers to each and every of those problems you mentioned. (I'd rather not though, they sound like problems that would be really hard to address, would consume a god awful amount of time) Scientists being scientists they have to document and publish everything they do, else it doesn't get accepted.

This is in part why science is different from all the previous endeavors to develop knowledge, the basic method of operation in basic isn't to tell you what is the truth, but to tell you how they conclude certain positions. The problem these days is, is that there is so much of it, that no human sane or insane could learn more then a fraction of it even in summary, let alone if you want to read up on all the things they did trying to show it is either a or b.

Still, due to all this scientists don't expect anyone to take their world for gospel, which is whenever you encounter someone who is really scientifically minded and you start raising doubts about something their automatic response is to not call the other an idiot, but to try and find sufficiently good explanations for the person to show them how these ideas were derived. (Though due to the limitations of how much someone can know, a really skeptical questioning will usually end up with no results, cause in general most people don't know the lines of though from bottom to top all the way)

In fact, they go to such extremes to try and explain, that they will try to explain things that really only make any kind of sense in very complicated math, obviously near no one is willing to sit that out, so they even try to invent non mathematical explanations.


-----

For some other loose points:

Scientists aren't the group that mock religions, quite a large amount are religious. There aren't any really organized groups that do that at all, but typically atheists are more likely then most to do so. I'm thinking because some of them find it a moral imperative to banish the 'evil' of religion from the world. (There point of view then of course)

It is to bad you lost your eloquent response, it might have been quite interesting.

Some accredited 'scientists' are asses and you sometimes wonder why they are scientists at all, besides I suppose some of them still manage to get results, even if their thinking is flawed at times or in general.

Reythia was expecting to be disbelieved on the basis that would be common knowledge and easily sourced for anyone, that jell-o keyboards didn't exist.

It is within epistemology well known that the belief in an absolute truth is just an assumption, science is the branch of seeking knowledge which assumes that what we see somehow reflects reality and that it in some way describes some kind of singular truth. There are all kinds of ifs and buts to complicate that I suppose, but we'll ignore those for simplicities sake.
As such you are completely correct, scientists are obsessed with a make belief absolute truth. There were other branches of knowledge gathering that tried other kinds of ways, but those have all failed to produce much result. As such indeed, scientists have mostly all banked on this branch being correct, based on the point that the other branches have not and still do not make any real results. (This is basically at the heart of the matter, we continue down this line because it has delivered results, we can now make devices and know things that we never knew before and as such we persevere on this route until proven that it doesn't work, or some other method works better)

-------------------


PS Epistemologically seen there is no such thing as an absolute truth, just an attempt at getting closer to the truth. Basically we keep approximating and modeling what we see in hope of finding some kind of final answer. However we've already proven that you can make an infinite amount of models that will give the same answer, so the ones we choose are only chosen for simplicities sake as well for how well they work in practice. This is also though why most direct attacks on science is like hitting smoke, while it does matter if they are absolutely correct, far more important is just that it works. (Which is why they never give up a theory until a better one is presented, what is the point throwing away at least a half functional system with no replacement?)

PS-2 Typically though scientists like to imagine they might have chosen the correct model though and that they've gotten it right or are at least really close to what it is, but meh, philosophy and mathematics are evil and deny any absolute certainty of it. emoticon Still, at least it works and that is probably what is most important of all things. emoticon

PS-3 Sorry if I repeated myself a few times. emoticon And I'm not feeling up to the task of trying to further weed out duplications and unnecessary complicated sentences and such right now, so I hope this will suffice. emoticon
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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


Nothing to do with this debate, but even in the dark ages learned people knew that the Earth was round. In the 7th century the Venerable Bede, who lived approximately eight miles from where I am sitting right now, and was a Christian monk (so no axe to grind against religion there) wrote that the Earth was round...

...and then he described some simple experiments that people could do to demonstrate it. He didn't expect people to believe him on faith alone (this was a Christian monk, let me remind you), he expected them to educate themselves and prove it to themselves.

I think he would have got on marvellously with Carl Sagan.



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One of our most elegant and far-reaching scientific theories (which still holds up after 150 years of people trying desperately to knock it down) requires no advanced knowledge, no mathematical skills, no scientific background, and no super-high IQ. It just requires a bit of ovservation, a bit of deduction, and a bit of common sense. You can go to a local bookshop and buy the entire theory in paperback form for a couple of pounds (about $4 emoticon ). It will take you about as long as a short novel to read and understand it. The theory's proof comes from observations that any farmer or gardener can make and understand, and the book carefully describes all the experiments you can make to verify the observations.

If you get the book and make the observations (or talk to people who have done the experiments -- everybody must know a gardener, if not a farmer or pigeon racer) and still don't accept the theory, nothing more can be said. But if you don't accept it, it's not because the scientist has asked you to make a leap of unsupported faith. It's not because he has hidden the theory behind baffling maths and PhD-level concepts. He's done his level best to show you why it must be true.

Show me the man with a dragon in his garage who has gone to the same lengths. All the men with dragons that I know have asked me to just "believe".



(The book, if you really want to try it, is The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin.)



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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


quote:

Blitzen wrote:
I wrote a very elegant argument that would have stunned you all, but downtime ate it. emoticon


SAD! I hate when the computer does that!!! emoticon

quote:


Ah, you say, test the horizon, surely you must admit the earth curves. Ever heard of a half sphere, I counter. You haven't proved we live on a ball.
Go around the world in an aeroplane, you say. Okay, but have you seen the optical illusion with the two parallel lines that seem to get nearer as they retreat into the distance? How can I believe my eyes?
About the only way I could "know" the earth is a sphere is if I went into space, yet you expect me to believe it is, because a scientist says so.


And yet you claim that SCIENTISTS are skeptical? Here I am, giving you a simple explanation that shows WHY we know the Earth is round, and you're coming up with possible but highly-unlikely reasons that it's wrong. I can give you a dozen other proofs that you can do with little more equipment than a functioning mind and some basic tools (and good timing, for many of them), but I doubt that would help. You've already decided. You don't WANT proof, because it would go against what you believe -- that you cannot possibly know whether the Earth is round or flat. I can't think of a better example of blind skepticism.

So don't complain that scientists are skeptics then. At least most scientists admit that they might be wrong.

quote:

Yet scientists expect me to take their word as gospel, whilst dismissing the supernatural and religion out of hand and Reythia, our scientist, just told me she has a jell-o keyboard and expects me to disbelieve her.


For the record, when I wrote the line about the jello keyboard, I'd intended it to be read aloud. As such, when QS read it, he should have thought, "My (QS's) keyboard is made of jello," and when Blitzen read it, he should have thought, "My (Blitzen's) keyboard is made of jello." Sorry for the confusion. I'd intended to give an example that you could test right there, just by typing on your own keyboard. *sigh* The English language defeats me again!!

quote:

A scientist gives us the Absolute Truth.
Another scientist proves him wrong.
We have a new Absolute Truth.
A team of scientists prove her wrong.
We have a new Absolute Truth...
And this goes on forever, all the whilst they expect us to think they know what they're talking, and they moan at our ignorance...


Blitzen, this is just wrong. I don't know what else to say, but some science teacher did a REALLY bad job of explaining basic scientific principles to you. No scientist should EVER claim that what they've derived or figured out is "Absolute Truth". It's just a MODEL for Absolute Truth. And if it's a good model, then when we make a prediction using it, the prediction will more closely match real observations than a prediction from an older model does. That doesn't mean it's a perfect model, but only a better one. I'm sorry if your middle school science teachers didn't explain this well (they often don't...), but your belief that scientists claim they've found Absolute Truth is simply wrong. We strive TOWARDS Absolute Truth, yes, but we don't claim that we've found it, or even that we ever will.

quote:

QS2 wrote:
Still, due to all this scientists don't expect anyone to take their world for gospel, which is whenever you encounter someone who is really scientifically minded and you start raising doubts about something their automatic response is to not call the other an idiot, but to try and find sufficiently good explanations for the person to show them how these ideas were derived.


Exactly. Even when we flatly declare that someone is wrong, there's always an explanation attached.

quote:

This is basically at the heart of the matter, we continue down this line because it has delivered results, we can now make devices and know things that we never knew before and as such we persevere on this route until proven that it doesn't work, or some other method works better.


And exactly, again. Nice job explaining things, QS. You did a better job than I could.

quote:

Meadows wrote:
Show me the man with a dragon in his garage who has gone to the same lengths. All the men with dragons that I know have asked me to just "believe".

(The book, if you really want to try it, is The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin.)



Haha! Very nice point with the Darwin bit, Meadows. Very sneaky -- and oh so true.

And I believe the bit with the blind-belief in dragons versus testable-hypothesis in science is the original point that Sagan was making. Wow -- this discussion has really circled 'round!

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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


Actually, I think it would be perfectly possible to create a keyboard made of Jello. It would just involve the right mixture of ingredients to make sure that the Jello is capable of passing an electrical charge, rigging up a wiring schematic overwhich you pour the mixture, and then being very careful when you type. emoticon

And you get to eat the left overs!

[/silly but plausible techno-babble]

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Re: A Writer's Moral Responsibility?


quote:

Loud G wrote:
Actually, I think it would be perfectly possible to create a keyboard made of Jello. It would just involve the right mixture of ingredients to make sure that the Jello is capable of passing an electrical charge, rigging up a wiring schematic overwhich you pour the mixture, and then being very careful when you type. emoticon
And you get to eat the left overs!
[/silly but plausible techno-babble]


Hahahahahaa!!!!
You'd just have to be careful that it didn't get too hot in your office, or your keyboard would melt into goo, too! emoticon

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