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SYNOPSIS: The pop topic of the year, as we may call it, is errors and
falsehoods built into knowledge. The article explores this and concludes
that such errors are intellectually and humanly unavoidable. We cannot impose
any other kind of order on the universe than the one it has and we don't
know what it is, except that it holds together as a whole infinitely and
eternally, having no known beginning and therefore no end either.
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Zymurgy's quote is certainly the case when it comes to fraudulent and bad science and knowledge. Thomas Jefferson warned us that: "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." It is unconditionally guaranteed that we can never know it all, life is too short, so we need re-incarnation to imagine we can change that. Our science is based on findings that only fit and suit earth conditions and that is a special environment. We know diddly squat about reality but we keep on using the word. As we discover something new most likely it will change large chunks of "everything we know" but we never get around to houseclean our minds and body of knowledge. We rely on past authorities who sure did not know much about our knowledge. Man is not the measure of all things, he merely believes his ideas are the only ones that count.
Our culture, society, called by Beatrice Bruteaux a social consensus reality, is a simulation, a misrepresentation that isolates us from our environment into cities as well as our selves by way of the intellect and a cognitive mind that reduces our world to materialism. This happened in part during the Middle Ages in revolt to papal dogma, pomp and circumstance into "reason" formulated by Kepler and Descartes. Intellect limits us to words only as if experience, intuition and feelings do not matter. One can hardly use a larger can without being unable to find a can. It is a closed enclave within which we are herded like a farmer does his crop and stock right now for profit as if money is real. Perhaps history will call the twentieth century the age of the lie, worse than the dark ages.
My first experience with an untruth was when teacher thumped a chalk mark on the blackboard and told us that THIS was Euclid's infinite point. I could not get my mind round the difference between a big chalk mark and an infinite point. Little did I know then about fictions, symbolism or that infinite points can be any size. "Hyperspatially, the Galaxy is a Point", Janov, by Isaac Asimov. If one thinks about the universe as a whole the solar system is a dust mote. But it stuck somewhere in my mind as being told a fib forever after. Even less did I know that hypnosis tells us that a first impression sticks, making a nub or container for anything that belongs with it. The really awkward thing about this is that small kids make up their mind what attitudes and values they will keep for life as their first impressions. Since parents are mostly wildly mis- and dis-informed about things that does not help any. Anything we lack from first hand enquiry and curiosity tends to be a wrong stereotype.
So when I looked into scientific errors, fraud and reluctance to admit such things little did I imagine what a can of worms it is. Errors and wrongly explained details in school texts books will yield more than hundreds of examples; it's a scandal. Climbing uphill into abstractions only finds bigger ones yet. Newton imagined gravity to be a function of earth mass but as we move away from earth it turns out to be quite something else we have not worked out yet, but we're in search. In found a list of 52 vindicated geniuses who later turned out to be right. I am sure there's more since many inventions were made by near known unofficial scientists. It would be easier and simpler to tell people how to be a good con or phony. "The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made." Glyme's formula for success. You won't find that one in a book of quotations. We're error prone, prejudiced and anything else we don't like about ourselves. "Anyone who switches on the electric light, switches on the television, makes a phone call, watches a film, plays a record, takes a photograph, uses a personal computer, drives a car, or boards an aircraft has the lone eccentric to thank, not institutional science." Even Fermat's last theorem, stated in 1630, was possibly solved by a single mathematician working alone for thirty years, in 1993 by Andrew Wiles. It will take a while for other mathematicians to check his proof out, though acceptance is forthcoming.
On average it takes us half a lifetime to come to serious grips with almost anything. It takes two to three decades to get a PhD or become a Lama for that matter. I cannot make up my mind whether that is a bad education or that it takes that long for anything to percolate in the head so what we know is fully integrated and in ready access. The problem with the information explosion is that there is too much repetition. Ezra Pound, a poet, told us to read only the originals who thought of something original which can save a lot of time, not the copycats. Problem is one needs a goodly dollop of learning to find out who that is. The quirky thing is that in order to be free of knowledge one first has to swallow a lot of it. "Enlightenment " and "Nirvana"? They are dead trees to fasten a donkey to. The scriptures? They are bits of paper to wipe mud from your face. The four merits and ten steps? They are ghosts in their graves. What can these things have to do with you becoming free?" Te-shan. He must have read them to know that.
William Broad and Nicholas Wade in "Betrayers of the Truth", OUP, 1985, mention that ..., fraudulent results are likely to be accepted in science if they are plausibly presented, if they conform with prevailing prejudices and expectations, and if they come from a suitably qualified scientists affiliated with an élite institution. It is for lack of all these qualities that new ideas in science are likely to be resisted." So long as the appearance is preserved all is well! That's the case with method which pretend an equal treatment to all data, which does not happen. Method is a fiction since every distinct speciality has its own ways. The scientific method is a myth. Neither logic nor numbers guarantee any truth.
"Godel proved that from a logical system which contains a contradiction, absolutely any proposition may be proven". He actually did not prove that, it's a side effect. He proved that we cannot show from extensions of an assumption that an assumption is valid. A theory amounts to saying that If A is true then b, c, d, etc also have to be true though b, c, d, etc are theoretical facts to be confirmed by experiments. If it rains the water has to somehow get up in the sky. Yes, water vapour is always present in the air, it condenses around dust particles. Nobody pulls the chain every now and then.
One writer comments that Godel's proof is a variation on the Liar's Paradox. The man says "I lie", if so he cannot be telling the truth. The escape from that trap and thereby all paradoxes is that he would not have to say so to the locals, they already know, only to strangers, so he tells the truth to a stranger that "normally" at home he lies, which shifts the context of what he says. It is, in binary true^false logic, also true that if he lies you simply take the alternative complement of his statement. In Infinite Set Theory however both lie and truth can co-exist. That rephrases that within a given closed and therefore incomplete system anything short of reality as a whole is incomplete. That applies to words as well when we use them as jargon or 'the well defined word'. In Spenser Brown's "The Laws of Form", which manages to strictly 'well-define' all logical jargon one can use it to find truth which lies outside of what is stated by taking the obverse of what is stated. Hence C.K Chesterton: "You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it." He was not a logician, so there. How does one falsify the assertion of an 'authority'? Simple, if you are more expert than he which, by definition and legislation, is not the case.
Proof is another bogus issue. One has to prove that a previously unknown fits into the known. That, exactly that, guarantees, if it is provable, that it either was already known or a side effect of the known, OR, we have to use a fiction to fit it in. In the true sense of proof it can either readily be shown it is real or it is grounded in our experience. The 'at home' then, for a specialist, applies to his field of knowledge. This is much the same as medieval priests using Latin could tell the locals that it means anything priest likes, if only they trust him. Most of us, normally, think of Justice as natural justice of the kind Chaucer wrote about whereas legal justice won't have anything to do with that and judges by what the rules say.
This centres more closely on hearsay as the basis of all misinformation. We naturally expect someone to tell the truth and trust people, which ain't necessarily so. Hamlet says: "One may smile and be a villain". Knowledge is grounded in axioms which boils down to "simple Simon sez". Onelook Dictionary has for "axiom" that, in logic, it is: "a proposition that is not susceptible of proof or disproof; its truth is assumed to be self-evident" and,"a saying that widely accepted on its own merits", or what Kant calls intuitively obvious. We are expected to take the word of an expert and authority for it. So what do we need that elaborate logical hooplah for? An authority is legally licensed. The first recorded liar is Homer's Ulysses. And don't tell me nobody lied before that. So what it tells us is that lying has become a social pastime, even dominant perhaps. It certainly is today. More properly logic is useful to analyse whether you are consistent and know your stuff, which is not how it is used. Moreover an axiom is the same as an assumption, also not susceptible to proof or disproof.
A typical example is when I visited Melbourne, where saw a nice diagram in the window of the weather bureau. It struck me that weather patterns matched magnetic fields somewhat. So in I went and raised the issue to be told that water was H2O and could not be sensitive to magnetism. What with natural water, impurities, pollution, acid rain and a memory retention by molecules of what they have been in contact with, it would be. The earlier one learns a wrong misconception the more strongly defended it tends to become. Thereby children of academics are more likely to be prone to such dogmatisms, unless one is lucky enough to get an eccentric tutor who will correct their students. Pure water you cannot even get beyond triple distillation. Apart from that water will contain loose OH, HO, HOH, OHO and other hydroxyls constantly forming and unforming and which are electrically sensitive, what else is Brownian motion about? Water also occurs as heavy water, HO3, which is tricky to extract.
Reality is poly-ordered. To look at a fractal image what is lacking are the effects or weather, erosion, volcanic upheavals, dust, human interference and more, each of which have their own style of order. Normally that is called a chaotic system because the various styles of order will shift around their dominance in what one can only call a dance of sorts. Society too is such a chaotic system any Government wastes loads of time trying to control with legislation and forever fails. No sooner is new legislation enacted but thousands of heads will figure out how get around things, get sneaky or ignore it. Order, so called, is selective and culls from chaos a single pattern when many patterns interact together. If one thinks hard enough about this one begins to wonder how we ever get anything done. Antiquity distinguished between things we could control and those we cannot and better run along with.
Our culture firmly believes it can control everything. The forever excuse is in the future or shortly, which never happens. That is guaranteed to run foul of whatever else we don't control or simply will not observe because any system tends to self balance everything that is going on, not unlike an ecology. In an ecology nobody is master or in charge. Recently various disciplines amalgamated into what is now called the Earth sciences where sky, land and water each drive the other in no single direction. One can offhand take any speciality and find fault or what at large turn out to be much the same ideas and beliefs.
Imagine a box, balloon or a suitcase into which we stuff everything we know. We can, logically and materially be in only one location of the box. It takes decades to rummage through the box to know where everything is so we can quick travel to where we want to go, instead of a starting random. When then we observe or experience anything the way to represent it is somewhere in the box, call it our memory. The rest we take for granted as our unconscious which it really is not. To "take for granted" means it's fixed and we cannot change it. But intuition can. Allowing for intuitive high speed travel we can go "there" and back again in a jiffy and so change everything linked to a given idea.
Now if we do some model morphing or metaphor hopping imagine a circus roundabout. If you face inwards then you circle round the center pole, you're moving. Face outwards and the world whirls around. Step off the roundabout and again you stand still while the roundabout whirls around. There's no such thing as "what actually moves" since it depends on where you are as to what moves. That's relativity for you. It's never you who moves, always the other. We can extend this outwards to include the movements of earth, sun, solar system and so on. All our observations are earth bound, still imagining the earth stands still, like saying "the sun rises and sets", or because it happens that way here therefore it must be true everywhere else. It does not, earth moves around the sun. There is no fixed point anywhere in the universe, except one made by an observer who is always "here".
Imagine this is metaphysically or imaginarily so too for our knowledge and the same effect obtains. For one example physical torture and abuse is illegal, what about emotional and mental or spiritual agony? Not a mention in any Law as we uphold materialism, which denies everything else. ("Zen..and the Art of Debunkery"). The rules of all psychological games are unspoken. Never make the rules of the game explicit, even to oneself." A game has strict, unbreakable rules which is why sports have referees and other social games use Courts or an authority. Simply put that means a given theory prevails and never mind how badly actualities fit into that, we can always make up a suitable fiction of sorts. DO read Vaihinger: "On The Philosophy of 'AS IF' ", he lists dozens of them and how to make them up. It boils down to ignoring a difference that makes no difference, to whom? Otherwise consult "Much Ado about Nothing" versus making Nothing of Something by calling it an anomaly, irrelevant, composed by a maverick or the unlettered. Nobody mentions the errand genius who innovated. This resembles word coining, of thousands coined a year only a few make it to a dictionary.
What does not quite puzzle me is that intuition can do that sort of thing in a flash, but we cannot prove it. Intellect takes time because it has to rummage through its memory file on "the done thing", the commonly accepted, custom and tradition, which is etymologically identical to a law. The usual excuse is that we've always done it that way, which does not make it true, useful, valid or real. Alternatively it is grounded in standard knowledge, THE whichever authority, dogmatic or not, of a belief or an -ism like the Bible or any other sacred book of words.
Standard knowledge won't work for reasons already explained. SK is pickled in words whereas insight, understanding, intuition range outside of that as grounded in experience or inner awareness. Standard knowledge works with the 'well-defined word" or jargon with hopefully a strict, singular meaning. And there's the rub. Every word has many meanings or applications, included metaphor and extended uses, when we say 'what I mean by this....'. C. Brooke Rose, in "The Grammar of Metaphor", Secker and Warburg, 1958, discusses this brilliantly, even shows "the" is a metaphor. The difference between a strictly to conventionally defined word versus the ambiguity of words is named as paradox if it is not denied. There's hundreds of them to be found.
Bertrand Russell in his Theory of Classes gives us what may be called classical examples. A typical one is " In a town lives a barber who does not shave himself". By definition, strictly defined, barbers shave other people. But you won't find such a barber in real life. Therefore the paradox lies outside knowledge in experience. We may define this as: "For every paradox the super-category [full ambiguity of a word] will vary from its defined meaning". In the case of writing blackboard on a blackboard and asking 'which is real?' we take it both the real blackboard and its written representation treated as the same, which is a conflation or collapse of meanings into the word itself. But even a blackboard is not real and part of a system called communication. We can make anything else out of the wood, plastic and paint we like. So it's just a form monkeys have no use for. It's perhaps not quite a paradox, more of a confusion of meanings. By consulting other meanings of any word we can find plenty more of this as in the earlier example about water. Real water is mucky, chaotic stuff.
The bigger can of worms this fits into comes as follows. Spenser Brown's "Laws of Form" has all logical terms strictly 'well-defined' so one can use its paradoxical mode to find whatever any -ism is blind to, in our case the material hypothesis which is NOT a hypothesis but an attitude and belief. Brown's algebraic logic is used to design circuit boards which disallow any ambiguity as a fault. In turn that is the inverse of humour, defined by Arthur Koestler as bisociation. Humour has its paradox built into a joke where knowledge conceals or excludes more than one meaning. The first opens up what the second denies and when we laugh we switch into intuition where both or more meanings can be appreciated. Formally that fits as Infinite Set Theory where any A and its complementary not-A both exist as sets, classes and groups or super and subsets. A set does not contain its opposite, classes do and groups contain both its denial and acceptance.
To add another worm, that makes logic a constrained or closed subset of rhetoric which is about the 'aptly chosen word' for the occasion. This occasion will be any purpose a message is put to from discussion, persuasion to propaganda and dogma, speculation and literature, or 'imaginary', so called. Vaihinger does not take things this far. This further divides formal from any other kind of communication down to recent blogging. Formal discourse does not classify or order such things. Greek and Roman Rhetoric categorises the kinds of twists we can put words to and in some cases their purposes. Logic can be defined as a game with strict rules made to exclude paradox. Standard conversation tends to lack such rules. So then formal discourse relies on rules that are more often hidden agendas, misleadingly called "method", which, however, varies per specialisation. The scientific method is a myth more honoured in the breach than the performance. Scientists who originate new ideas, insights and theories are creative. Creativity is discussed but not understood or explained by standard psychology.
Yet once we grasp the nature of paradox as the relation between strict and open or free use of words and/or ideas creativity too turns simple. We can use our understanding and intuition to find blind spots in formal and social knowledge to explore further. Intuition is synaesthetic and will use any of our senses, inner and outer voices, images, feelings and action patterns. Standard psychology explores by products or output whereas the process is much the same for all. I did it in this article by using a can of worms as a trope. To gather any ideas we need a nub or container to start with, which can be as vague as you like. Our mind is superbly able to know what is relevant, nothing to do with logic. Standard analysis works inside out starting with detail and inductively generalising to find where and how it fits. Creativity starts at the holistic end of the business. We need to be alertly curious, mind and research something and then leave it alone for a moment of peace and quiet for an insight to dawn. It comes immediately when urgent. We can thereby retrain it to do the same as when we walk and talk to update and rescript what we know on the fly as we think, or again, do it in dreams to access our whole mind instead of solely intellect and memory. In effect this retrieves how a child's mind works before it is educated to only use words. Some children never lose it.
There is a parallelism for our feelings, knowledge and epistemology from fixed or dominant with a large scope like a paradigm or -ism down to fine detail. We can adapt four levels from the Kabalah as Being, formation or planning, process and structure with appearances as a fifth, as: reality, formation or designing or detecting a pattern, studying its process that, as a given method, begets a detailed structure. To the degree that a theory does not include all the fine detail around it is incomplete and false. The same holds for our world model which can be limited to a social consensus reality versus whatever is the case and happens. Behind or beyond it all is raw exerperience or pure perception a baby starts with which soon enough converts to conception by feedback from its environment. "You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it.", C. K. Chesterton.
FEELINGS: Belief, value, attitude, emotion, feeling, sensation, in order
of trope or container or super and subsets or dominant, hieratic or embedded
or fixed to evanescent.
KNOWLEDGE: Assumption, POV or -ism, Theory, 'facts' either observed or measured versus theoretical which last leads to testable hypotheses.
EPISTEMOLOGY: Reality all too often substituted by whatever is commonly accepted as real by a culture and reality, our world model, again all too often substituted by a supposedly socially in common set of beliefs. down to the specific details of this for any individual most often ignored. Kant used all the second options.
BUT, a BIG BUT, the superworm of them all, by Godel's proof, there's no avoiding errors or distortions. Korzybski told us that "the map is not the territory". Mapping is called cartography. Korzybski wrote about Aristotle's Logic which he correctly disliked because it abstracts his Logic from words as mapping which shows most readily what goes wrong. Words comes as particulars and generics. A 'rose' can mean the plant, even the species and the flower, as well as a rosy smile, sun, outlook and more. It is one reason Linnaeus invented his double worded or binary naming system to ensure we name or classify a specific class or species and family of objects, but never the individual as we do for personal names. None of this shows up too well in metaphysics or the imaginary or unobservable though experiencable.
To make a map of the world we impose a flat, even spherical form on what is called an oblate spheroid because Earth is not a sphere and its movements or dance inside the solar system, although quite regular, is not uniform. It varies in cycles called the Platonic year of about 25800 years, a polar wobble of about 104,000 years, a lunar wobble from being a binary subsystem and that Jupiter as the biggest planet in the solar system has the biggest effect on planetary orbits. Apart from that the sun is, in our Galaxy, off centre of its centre of gravity and recently the search for another, also binary to the sun star, has started. The solar system is now known to contain some 20,000 objects beyond the known planets, some 200 planetoids in irregular earth orbits in regular threat of earth impacts. We have no known way to map or represent all this. The only accurate way we have is by satellite observation which is forever variable.
The conflict is between a UNI-verse and the world. We experience the world as our environment for the body so it appears to be external to us. The UNI-verse, however, we hold to be a whole, entire and only one around and lately more often named as infinite. The only way we know to make a map is by choosing an artificial zero centre of reference which varies by location and in time as a Great year of the cycle inside the Zodiac. Without a doubt, though unadmitted by materialism, we are a product of reality and totally embroiled with the actions of the UNI-verse. So to have any map and representation of our world is already wrong to start. Materialism is the wrong can of worms which discovery we may call a post Einsteinian, post Quantum development. Post modernism is right is calling our knowledge without foundation. But it is also wrong in not telling us that here is no way to have a representation of the real world without distortion. The only real foundation around is the UNI-verse which is a product of reality.
It is also the case that despite what we imagine we are intimately linked or connected to reality at a deep level. The Copenhagen interpretation tells us that at the Planck level consciousness is involved in changing, and not inconceivably also contrary to changing, the formation of matter. Matter is a form of energy and raw or only energy has no KNOWN forms and thus is metaphorised as the sea; water taking on the form of its container. It is called the Planck level because Planck insisted it requires a given amount of energy or momentum to start any action for which he calculated a numerical constant, which cannot be a constant. The energy required to birth a galaxy is not equal to drinking a cup of tea or starting a fire. The length of an earth day varies by microseconds a day, which sounds like rather little. But when we consider the size, volume, mass and weight of Earth in space to move it at all takes enormous amounts of energy, perhaps incalculable. Yet there it hangs around in space which is not empty space at all.
This, to deliver the final shock in one word, forces the mystic's viewpoint or the mind only school of thought. The only way to be "with it", as the Red Queen tells Alice, is to move faster than light not in real-time but in real-awareness. Time, scientific linear clock time, is a phony and the appearance of the body in an external world an illusion as the Buddha told us long ago. Yet we have our five external senses to move around on earth. So that leads to the inference that matter is an illusion because we cannot on the one hand have a real world perceived in an illusory manner or, on the other hand, that if perception is an illusion so is the world. Or, as it states in the Diamond Sutra:"Form is emptiness, emptiness is form", as more than well proven by recent science. The atom, according to Democritus an irreducible solid, is emptiness down to the last more than picometre. It's actually a complex build up of many forms starting with nothing we can observe. How this works we don't have a clue. The equivalent Chinese 'hsiao i' is defined as "that something which is nothing of itself".
"Yet I repeat once more," declares William James, "the existence of mystical states absolutely overthrows the pretension of non-mystical states to be the sole and ultimate dictators of what we may believe." He's right as in Newton's words, 'he studied the topic". Recent ventures into the paranormal or psychic also prove, when taken 'en masse' or all together that it's real, unconditionally real, despite the fact that only the rare person can demonstrate it. 'Wherever there's meat expect vultures' and for the paranormal there's untold more pretenders than real ones. It's the problem of representation altogether. Anyhow meat self-decomposes in the absence of consciousness, so there.
An affirmation of the same position comes from no less than an authority than Max Planck. He says: "How do we discover the individual laws of Physics, and what is their nature? It should be remarked, to begin with, that we have no right to assume that any physical laws exist, or if they have existed up to now, that they will continue to exist in a similar manner in the future. It is perfectly conceivable that one fine day Nature should cause an unexpected event to occur which would baffle us all; and if this were to happen we would be powerless to make any objection, even if the result would be that, in spite of our endeavors, we should fail to introduce order into the resulting confusion. In such an event, the only course open to science would be to declare itself bankrupt. For this reason, science is compelled to begin by the general assumption that a general rule of law dominates throughout Nature."
And, to can the last worm, we don't know what that general law is. All our observations are earth bound and earth is not the defining circumstance of what is the case for the UNI-verse. "Foucault exposes the fact that all disciplines -be they be scientific, legal, political, or social-operate through a network of self-legitimizing power and knowledge". You'd have to be a Frenchman to get away with that. Authority, he says, has no authority, no foundation. Caitin, on Internet about 'the foundations of math', tells us the same thing in different words and context. Postmodernism cannot find a foundation and frantically tries to cover this up. "The splitting of the atom, Einstein observed, "has changed everything except our mode of thinking, and therefore we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe".
So to get anywhere near the best representation is to begin where it is at, with consciousness. If a bunch of well informed quantum physicists tells us that consciousness is that we either give up 'believing' what science tells us or explore the validity of what they say. The entire UNI-verse is a projection of consciousness. Of course I cannot prove that within the narrow, solipsistic confines of standard Establishment science but neither can it prove me wrong. All I can say, as that in all cases of innovative ideas, it is the simplest way to imagine. This projection begins in mind, not ours of course, universal mind. Somehow it passes through various phases until a final stage where it no longer integrally interacts but bounces off itself.
This is best accounted for by wave mechanics and music or harmonics. For any two waves that harmonise we get a new form where they merge into what is called another and new standing wave. In an anharmonic or cacophonous ratio they don't merge but spark off and exchange opposite energies or forces. That makes an ultimate yin yang set of opposites. We may find better ways in the future, about that I don't know. Psychologically speaking we're in the next phase beyond William James that mystics are conceivably the best arbiters of what is real. This is not a matter of belief but what is or can be the simplest explanation of the UNI-verse. This does not gainsay anything science has found using measurements, merely that this is as valid and invalid as the Ptolemaic earth centred model.
"There is nothing lacking in you, and you yourself are no different from the Buddha. Be boundless and absolutely free from all conditions. Be free to go in any direction you like. Do not act to do good, nor to pursue evil. Whether you walk or stay, sit or lie down, all are the wonderful activity of the Great Enlightened One. It is all joy, free from anxiety - it is called Buddha." Tao-hsin. "Since everything is but an apparition, perfect in being what it is, having nothing to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection, one may well burst into laughter." Long Chen Pa. Why I like Zen is because it has no map, no theory, no explanations beyond cleverly using Koans and Mundos to point you back at yourself, the ultimate mystery.