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Author: salaryguru Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 59195  
Subject: Re: quote of the day Date: 8/31/2012 10:11 PM
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How does a mathematical model get developed without a
conjecture. The clever folks are the ones who can come up
with testable models and still be willing to observe without
bias. But really coming up with the "wild #ss theory" that has not
been modeled is tremendously admirable and fun.


Hmmmm. . . Conjecture, dreams, nightmares, visions, hallucinations . . . any of these can lead to a testable hypothesis and so is perfectly acceptable as a step in the advancement of science and knowledge. But until a testable hypothesis emerges, they are just that . . . conjecture, dreams, nightmares, visions, hallucinations. Selling them as anything else is evangelical mysticism.

Let me be explicit on this point: I have many, close friends I stay in contact with all over the world. I know that some of them are part of devout Muslim families. Some follow Hindu or Jain practices. Many of my colleagues from Illinois and North Carolina are members of fundamentalist Christian churches while other friends are Catholic, or members of other Christian groups. I have Jewish friends both in the US and Israel. I even have a Hopi friend who still participates in Kachina dances.

Similarly, I am friendly on a first name basis with dozens of my neighbors. I know my next door neighbors are Mormon and Rob is a deacon. Across the cul-de-sac from my house Eric and Donna hold a religious service (I don't even know what religious group they are part of) in their home every Sunday and fill the street with attendees' vehicles. Rob and I take care of each other's yards when one of us is away. I pay his children to take care of my dog when I travel. Eric has a wood shop in his garage and has helped me with any number of projects and I've taken care of his grandchildren during family emergencies.

My own belief is that these religious practices are all silly. Yet, I admire and respect my friends and neighbors. And I am fairly certain they feel the same about me. One important part of my relationship with them all is that they don't try to tell me about their spiritual/mystic beliefs or to convince me that their beliefs in such things are the one "true" reality. I would find such comments to be inappropriate and condescending. I am a well-educated, adult with very rich and diverse experiences. I have studied a wide range of other religions and visited places of worship for dozens of different religions all over the world. I am perfectly qualified to decide if I want to believe in some kind of mysticism and if I did decide to believe, what kind of mysticism to embrace. There is a very good chance that my education/experience/travels have actually exposed me to a wider range of such beliefs than most of my friends and neighbors. Why would any of them assume that they hold some kind of superior knowledge that they need to impart on me? It takes a certain level of self-righteous arrogance to push one's own brand of mysticism on other people.

Similarly, I have never tried to convince any of them that their beliefs are silly.

Now, you can say similar things about political or technical debates. Why would someone believe that their knowledge and beliefs about solar energy or nuclear power should be forced on someone who believes that carbon based energy is all we'll ever need? Well . . . because facts and the organization of facts about energy provide a basis for these arguments. Facts alone may not settle the debates, but many of the claims proponents of one energy source vs another might make can eventually be tested. Similarly, political debates (although filled with beliefs and personal values) also become ultimately testable via the march of history. I might claim we need to go to war to stop the use of weapons of mass destruction, but if ultimately no such weapons are found, my claim loses credibility.

No such basis exists for mysticism because such conjectures are accepted based solely on faith. They produce no testable hypothesis. I believe in the holographic universe because it is a phrase in a book I read that I liked. I can't actually define "holographic universe" with a formal definition. I have no mathematical description of it. I can't produce any predictions that can be tested using this concept. But I believe in it just because I want to.

And that's fine. Believe in Jesus or Mohammad or the holographic universe or the flying spaghetti monster . . . whatever. Embrace your favorite mystic belief. Pray or worship that belief if you are so inclined. But please try to avoid becoming an evangelist for your mysticism. The world really doesn't need another holy war.
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