Project Logicality | the Argument from Personal Incredulity


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Here we discuss a common flaw in reasoning, the Argument from Personal Incredulity, a variation of the Argument from Ignorance. It involves denying or asserting a claim from the standpoint of a failure to accept, understand, or imagine said claim or it’s contrary.

It’s to impose one’s own cognitive horizons on reality, and like the Argument from Ignorance, pretend to a certain conclusion that one does not have the data or perspective to correctly make.

Reality is not limited, restricted or constrained by our willingness or ability to comprehend it, by what we can personally accept as true, simply because no positive conclusions are obtainable from missing evidence or a failure to generate strong or valid explanations.

Someone with a more active imagination or greater understanding may discover a way to conceive of and comprehend what we cannot. The Argument from Incredulity could be illustrated by way of example:

  • ‘Evolutionists’ and Origin of Life researchers (effectively one and the same to creationists) claim that life arose and reached its present form over billions of years.

  • Being a human with a lifetime of only decades, I can’t wrap my mind around time-scales that immense, or comprehend life arising and evolving by blind, natural processes.

  • So I conclude that evolution is false, as the only alternative I know of, young-Earth creationism, is easier to understand and accept.

or by this silly example…

  • I can’t imagine computers working without pixies transmitting the data in them…

  • So I believe pixies must be responsible for the operation of my Mac.

…or further, in this way…

  • I don’t understand the mathematics and theory behind the Big Bang, Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, and the simpler Electric Universe theory appeals more to my personal intuitions…

  •  So orthodox astronomy and cosmology is wrong and my pet alternative cosmology is correct.

This fallacy has a minor variant of its own, the Appeal to Ridicule, in which the one making the argument attempts to portray a factual claim or statement as ludicrous, often with dishonest intent in order to influence others into disbelieving it, as is often the case with portrayals of the theory of evolution by creationists like Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, the late Duane Gish and Kent Hovind. The following is an example of the appeal to ridicule:

  • Scientists would have us believe that hydrogen, a colorless, odorless gas, given time, becomes stars, planets, animal and plant life, and ultimately, people.

  • Now, who in his right mind would believe anything so absurd?

…As is this:

  • Mainstream astronomers are always saying that most of the mass of the universe is locked up in some invisible, fairy-tale thing they call ‘dark matter,’ and the even more silly concepts of magic ‘dark energy’ and ‘inflation theory’ unicorns they need to prop up their failing model…

  • …Therefore conventional cosmology is unbelievably comical, so my pet doctrine must be true because it’s more sensible and logical than the Big Bang with all that useless, abstract math it involves.

Never mind that no self-respecting unicorn would be caught dead in an argument like that…much less ‘inflation theory’ ones…😉

It is not an argument from incredulity to make more valid inferences, when what we know is complete enough that our ability to imagine or understand something applies to most reasonable situations, when the phrase ‘I can’t imagine this’ is just a figure of speech, as with this example:

  • We happen to know things about Quantum Mechanics that we have verified experimentally time and again…

  • We do not know anything of QM as it is currently understood that supports its use as a viable explanation for Psi, should Psi even truly exist as is claimed…

  • So I think that Psi, if it exists, cannot be adequately explained by QM.

The argument from incredulity is sometimes a tricky one to pick out, especially in one’s own arguments, as it is not always made in the form of a statement, but well worth the effort in recognizing to avoid being bamboozled in a debate, with or without creationists, electric universe proponents or parapsychologists as the opposition.

Aryabhata: Ancient Icon of Science


This is my first submission for the online eZine Agnishatdal, created by the awesome Sharmishtha Basu. The content is verbatim, and my own writing, and only the title of the permalink has been changed from the original in Agnishatdal’s  first issue for the Bengali month of Shravan. Agnishatdal is soon to be in its fourth issue for the month of Kartik. Do check it out!

Aryabhata (आर्यभत in Sanskrit). Astronomer and mathematician, he lived during the Gupta empire’s waning years, as the fierce Hunas swept down from the North.

Given the sobriquet “Asmakiya,” he’s thought to have been born in the area of South Gujarat and North Maharashtra, then Asmaka country. By his own reckoning, some 3600 years into the Kali Yuga, about 499 CE at the age of only 23, he had composed his only known surviving work. He studied and lived much of his life in Pataliputra, the imperial capital, now Patna, then in Magadha country, now Bihar.

Aryabhata has been mentioned as teaching at university there, and has been mentioned as kulapa (head of institution) at least once. He may have supervised the University of Nalanda at Pataliputra perhaps until his death at 74 in 550 CE. In his illustrious career in teaching and research, he was the author of several other works, none confirmed as having lasted to the present day except through the commentary, quotations, or criticisms of his contemporaries and those who followed in the intervening centuries.

The Aryabhatiya (not his own title): A text on astronomy and mathematics, it’s also known as Asmakatantra (“the Asmaka’s treatise”) by Bhaskara I, or Aryasatasasta, “Aryabhata’s 108” for its number of main verses. The text, composed in Sanskrit poetic meter for mnemonic purposes, is minimal but expanded on by commentary since then.

There are four chapters:

Gitikala: Offers a cosmology and units of deep time, kalpa, manvantra, and yuga; gives a table of sines (“half-chords”) in one verse.

Ganita: Here are place value numbers from 1 to 9 given; geometric progressions; rules for square and cube roots; quadratic, simultaneous, and indeterminate equations; an approximation of pi given as 3.1416.

Kalakriya: This gives the length of year, month, day, smaller units of time; Aryabhata in this chapter seems to suggest the rotation of the earth on its axis rather than the revolution of the celestial sphere about the earth; he gives a seven-day week, each day named.

Gala: Here are given matters of the celestial sphere; features of the ecliptic; day and night’s causes; shape and composition of the earth; He uses the term “Lanka” in this chapter for a point on the earth’s equator, not the island of Sri Lanka. “Ujjain” here is given as the location 23 degrees directly north of this.

So accurate was Aryabhata’s mathematical paradigm that an 18th century visitor to Pondicherry, Guillaume Le Gentil, found that his own figures for the duration of the August 30, 1765 eclipse exceeded it by 68 seconds, while Aryabhata’s methods were short by only 41 seconds, a difference in results of 107 seconds with greater error using Le Gentil’s calculations!

Conclusion: Some of Aryabhata’s earliest commentary comes from the work of his contemporary Varahamihira, his 7th century disciple Bhaskara I, and those who would follow in centuries after, like Brahmagupta and Al-Biruni. A statue of him stands at the front of IUCAA at Pune, and India’s first commercial orbital satellite was named after him. As first in a long line of famous Indian scientists and mathematicians, born in a golden age of learning and scholarship, few of his era have achieved lasting renown as he has. I consider him, not to be the Isaac Newton of ancient India, but rather Newton to be the Aryabhata of the early Modern age. That, I think, is the better comparison.

Content copyright Troy David Loy ©2016

References:

Aryabhata: His Name, Time and Provenance (K.V. Sarma: Indian Journal of History of Science) (https://web.archive.org/web/20100331152303/http://www.new.dli.ernet.in/rawdataupload/upload/insa/INSA_1/20005b67_105.pdf)

The Aryabhatiya of Aryabhata (Clark, 1930) (https://archive.org/details/The_Aryabhatiya_of_Aryabhata_Clark_1930)

Aryabhata (Wikipedia) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aryabhata)

Fractals of the Week | A Project Titanic


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This week, I’ve a few recent uploads to DeviantART, a set of five made for a project image from recent updates to an older preset, now reconditioned, and much, much improved. I named these after their suggestion of massive humanoids in ornate armor, generated in four different color maps, and in the fifth, joined together as a single massive image. The first four images are wallpapers, 1600×900 pixels in size, the fifth is itself massive, at an enormous 18000×10126 pixels. All five of these are available as free file downloads or prints on their pages in the gallery. Do be careful in downloading that last, as it well exceeds 60 MB in file space! Click each image for its page link.

Tf. Tk. Tts.

Titan I
Titan I
Titan II
Titan III
Titan III
Titan IV
Titan IV
Titans
Titans

All JPEG, PNG & GIF images in this post are original works by the author, created via a variety of apps and unless otherwise stated are copyright 2016 by Troy Loy. I hereby permit the free, noncommercial use of these images, with proper attribution or a link back to the original source. Thank you!

Ubi dubium, ibi libertas. – Where there is doubt, there is freedom.

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