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Burden of Proof


Qui-Gon Glenn
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the reason i know there is no god is because religion, every religion, from paganism to scientology, was created by humans in order to fill a void that those same otherwise brilliant people could be trying to find out instead of taking another group of peoples theories as their own.

 

The topic of this thread is discussion of the "Burden of Proof".

 

What is "proof"? How is it defined? And which kind of proof are we talking about?

 

In the quote above, the proof Druganator is seeking is proof of God's existence. This is a proof that could be said to be a logical/mathematical proof, in that there must be a list of valid statements that can be made about God that result in a "proof" that God does indeed exist.

 

This is an old problem, and there are many like it. I would like this thread to be a little discussion of proof, especially this - I believe that very little in the universe is completely provable/verifiable, and therefore that IMO, asking for proof of this or that OR it is simply impossible, is a cop-out, as well as a logical fallacy.

 

I have intentionally left out sentential logic, induction, predication, and epistemological concepts from this initial post, as I do want to include the whole group, even the younguns. If it needs to get technical to shut up the do-do, then that might happen...

 

My list of things that cannot be proved -

 

3. The sun will rise tomorrow.

4. I am the biological son of my mother and father.

5. Mathematics is 100% reliable.

 

Things that can be proved are often axiomatic, as the following sentence proves itself.

 

1. All bachelors are unmarried men.

 

Having dealt a little poorly with my first two unprovables in another recent thread, may I suggest we focus on other topics that are less close to home for some, so that the conversation can be educational, interesting, and not just a bunch of "I think this, and if you don't you're a moron" :|

 

So, just to set the table, take on #3 - it is the easiest, and then maybe we can have some real argument over 4 & 5.

Edited by Qui-Gon Glenn
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After discussion with the OP and getting a clarification on what he meant with his post, I removed all the off-topic posts about theism/atheism and have re-opened the thread. Please carry on, but know that any theism/atheism posts are going to be deleted as spam and warnings or infractions handed out accordingly. You've been warned....

 

Other than that, please carry on with what should be an interesting topic. :)

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"The sun's going to come up tomorrow too, you know."

 

Such statements can't be proven. Naturally! Some extraordinary and doubtless pristine reasoning follows this that usually involves treating as a concept something which isn't. IF IT DOESN'T FOLLOW LOGICALLY, YOU CAN'T KNOW IT! It's like the solipsistic inquisition all over again! The question is, who is to be master? Suffice it to say that if someone were to tell me I don't know that the sun will rise a few hours from now I'd be inclined to believe they were not quite clear what it means for someone to know that the sun is going to rise. The wish to conflate these two senses of "knowing" is abominable, I SAY ABOMINABLE.

 

Carry on.

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The wish to conflate these two senses of "knowing" is abominable
Agreed, if I understand you correctly - we are focusing on surety, things that are entirely provable by today's mathematical/logical standards, and how limited a universe is provided by "known" "provable" things. Socratic ignorance FTW!

 

In the case of the sun rising or not, this is the classical 101 case of induction. It is often safe to proceed from inductive basis, but it is not grounds for "knowledge" - it cannot pass our burden of proof.

 

Thank you Jae Onasi for providing the definition of "Burden of Proof" in the formal sense. It is a good reference for those that are not familiar with the basic concept.

 

We as a forum have entirely different views on every topic imaginable, and have strong, educated and opinionated minds, some strongly so, more impressively or less. We can certainly agree that very few topics with strong opinions on either side ever settle out with a conversion for either side. Granted, that has a lot to do with culture and environment, but it also has to do with a failure by either party to really satisfy the burden of proof required for a jury panel of our magnitude and diversity. It is an awesome task to behold, in my humble opinion.

Carry on.
Thank you, and I hope we will, and I will do my best to provide a topic here or there that will be interesting enough in and of itself to discuss with at least some interest, without being so provocative as to incite the flaming and vitriol that some of our contentions result in. As you can see from Jae's intervention and reopening of the thread ( Thank you Jae! ) that kind of behavior is not only unwelcome and unhelpful to the actual questions to be presented, but will simply not be tolerated. Mostly this means, keep questions 1 & 2 out of the area. As a matter of fact, I will now edit that post and remove them, but leave this here as a sweet reminder.

 

***

Now, whether "knowledge" exists is an entirely different question, perhaps for this thread if it is related to our focus on things that can pass the "burden" of proof in our case. (Not likely....)

 

***

More difficult a question is mathematics - we could start there. I will look for some citations to not be just a talking know-it-all (far from it).

 

Math seems so beautiful, pristine, perfect and flawless in every way, a logical masterpiece beyond the matrix (obviously :facepalm: )... yet it could be just a bunch of hablooey abracapocus. This is agreed upon by many scientists and philosophers, but certainly not all!

Edited by Qui-Gon Glenn
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More difficult a question is mathematics - we could start there. I will look for some citations to not be just a talking know-it-all (far from it).

 

Math seems so beautiful, pristine, perfect and flawless in every way, a logical masterpiece beyond the matrix (obviously :facepalm: )... yet it could be just a bunch of hablooey abracapocus. This is agreed upon by many scientists and philosophers, but certainly not all!

 

This part interests me, I don't quite understand 100% what you mean by math possibly not being real. I understand how it could not be real from a philosophical standpoint, but from a scientific one?

 

Please expand.

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^^^Probably what qui gon glenn is referring to is the theoretical math with 2 or more unknowns. I think that's calculus, but I never made it that far, or even halfway far enough to be a laser engineer.

 

I'm sure qgg can clarify though.

 

I'm not sure what he means, but he definitely isn't referring to calculus or differential equations type stuff (two or more variables). I think he means advanced theory of mathematics, stuff that people rarely use.....calculus is very much accepted to be true.

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My list of things that cannot be proved -

 

3. The sun will rise tomorrow.

4. I am the biological son of my mother and father.

5. Mathematics is 100% reliable.

 

Things that can be proved are often axiomatic, as the following sentence proves itself.

 

1. All bachelors are unmarried men.

 

Having dealt a little poorly with my first two unprovables in another recent thread, may I suggest we focus on other topics that are less close to home for some, so that the conversation can be educational, interesting, and not just a bunch of "I think this, and if you don't you're a moron" :|

 

So, just to set the table, take on #3 - it is the easiest, and then maybe we can have some real argument over 4 & 5.

 

@ #4: Well, a paternity test determines the difference (or not) of your genes. So would you please enlighten me as to how such a test is not proof?

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Mathematics is 100% reliable as an extrapolation of cause and effect, but it describes only what it describes. The only problem is where someone infers results which are neither correlated by physical observation, nor directly suggested by the math.

 

Wormholes are an excellent example of this. Theoretically possible because the math is correct, but not a description of a physical object because a) none have been observed or inferred by observation, and b) the math doesn't directly suggest wormholes, it leaves a space for them due to an unsolvable equation (singularity)

 

But math extrapolating the working of a combustion engine for example is 100% reliable as a description of its theory, in a closed environment, in the form of a working model. You could use it to accurately predict changes in inlet manifolding for example, with extremely detailed results directly proportionate to data input, though it would only describe "ideal operating conditions."

 

For scientific theorum math must be correlated by physical observation. General Relativity was blatantly unerring for example, but was not accepted until it made accurate predictions of Mercurian perihelion and Solar gravitational lensing, ie. these were physically observed. Even here it remains falsifiable, but is simply the best and most complete theorum which concords with physical observation.

 

So whilst math is 100% reliable, no theory is ever the final word on anything. ~snip~

Edited by mimartin
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Okay... circular arguments.

 

I keep using this term because ever so often an argument is made that hinges upon a supposition. It makes absolutely no sense why so many pieces of evidence forming a theory are brought together, hinging upon something that can't be proven. If it hinges upon something not yet accepted as proof, then the entire theory falls apart.

 

You can have 99% of the evidence you need, but if that 1% contradicts it all; then the entire theory is disproved. That is why you must first deal with such evidence before you can progress the hypothesis into theory.

 

"The sun's going to come up tomorrow too, you know."

 

Such statements can't be proven. Naturally! Some extraordinary and doubtless pristine reasoning follows this that usually involves treating as a concept something which isn't. IF IT DOESN'T FOLLOW LOGICALLY, YOU CAN'T KNOW IT!

 

Based on what we've observed over the 100,000 years that humans existed, there has not been once when the sun hasn't risen(assuming you mean the Earth stopped spinning or the Sun went nova). It is safe to say that this will always be true because there has been nothing to suggest it won't happen as it always has since the cycle of day and night had begun. (In the future, there WILL come a point when this changes, but not under the conditions that exist today)

 

If you want to mean it literally, then one should say 'The sun will rise tomorrow unless a catastrophic event disrupts the Earth's rotation, or the sun's behavior.' Either of these would be very unlikely, but possible. Given that none have happened yet, nor is there any reason to assume they would any day now, it is not logical to say that we don't know that the sun will rise tomorrow.

Edited by Darth_Yuthura
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3. The sun will rise tomorrow.
It did not rise even once, ever. Having Earth orbiting around the Sun, both are always on the same 'level'.

 

 

4. I am the biological son of my mother and father.
If you're not the offspring of those who you call father and mother, that doesn't mean anything, you're still the biological son of your biological parents, always.

 

 

5. Mathematics is 100% reliable.
By definition, it is.
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We can pick at the flawed statements all we want, but the issue is whether something is accidentally stated absolutely, or if it is meant literally. Obviously anyone who knows that the Earth rotates would also know that the sun doesn't orbit and rise in the literal sense of the statement. Same thing with who you call 'mother' and 'father.' You could even pick at the axiomatic sentence by saying that a married man who lost his wife, but doesn't know it, technically is a bachelor again. But without a valid death or divorce certificate, he would still be officially married.

 

See how ridiculous it is to pick at such statements? Most people interpret these properly and the fact that one would essentially make a statement go from true to false by a mere technicality makes it frustrating. If someone said by mistake 'this is impossible'... it would be more appropriate to say 'it's remotely possible' than for some to simply say 'it's possible.' The absolute statement was wrong, but if the odds were like 1 in a million; remotely possible would be a more accurate way of rephrasing the statement.

 

Saying something is possible opens an extremely wide range of answers. It's possible that Elvis is still alive, but without proof to confirm that he is; I would rather just assume he is dead unless proof emerges that brings the accepted belief into question. I would rather that assumptions not be considered as possible because of a lack of proof for an alternate theory. Any theory that gets shot down should only be done so when a more complete alternate theory emerges.

 

You don't like a certain theory in front of you... then come up with a better one, or don't get involved.

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Ok, I am a little unprepared for this post atm, but I will do my best to answer the questions put to me, and will have to do a later follow-up post with some citations, because my memory fails me....

 

@ Darth Yuthura - good observations all. One of the annoying things in philosophical arguments are people going to the "one exception" and saying that holds the burden of proof for sinking the opposite argument. Sometimes it does, sometimes not, but when semantics get involved it seems no one is happy.

 

@ Ray - of course, you have made DY's point :) You know what I mean by "sun rising", yet have also been completely correct in your assertion. In that claim of #3, what I am really trying to say is, tomorrow we might wake up cold and in the dark, as the sun is no longer there. This is and always will be a possibility, until it finally comes true.

 

@ Ray pt.2, RE #4 - Well, I am getting into a little bit of probability theory here. and a little bit of my own "evil genius" thinking... It is a possibility that at the exact moment I was born, there was another being born with identical DNA to my own, born of other parents, and we got switched in that moment, neither of us any the wiser. This is absurd, but logic and science exclude neither. I will find a better example of this point, with a little citation, because I feel the heat already....

 

@ Ray pt.3.... by definition? Heard of the special theory of relativity? There are many things in physics that, based on mathematics should exist, yet we cannot find. This does not mean that math or physics is wrong, but it leaves a little grey area. I do have the goods on this one somewhere, but I have to look it up and share it or else you will all rightly dismiss this. Bimmerman was following where I was going in his post.

 

@Totenkopf - a fairly excellent summary of the problem of induction... thank you!

 

@vanir - you are close to what I am getting at with math, but I have some stronger examples, I simply have to find them. Your post reminded me of a conundrum though.... where are all the "white" holes, since the law of opposites demands one, if we are to take singularities as "real"?

 

The most simple way that math could be a joke is the obvious and stupid one.... the one from "The Matrix", the concept of the Evil Genius/Deceiver ala Descartes. We generally ignore this as it seems to be evading any real discussion, but it does remain a possible alternative - I know I often feel like a rat in a cage.

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Agreed, if I understand you correctly - we are focusing on surety, things that are entirely provable by today's mathematical/logical standards, and how limited a universe is provided by "known" "provable" things. Socratic ignorance FTW!

 

In the case of the sun rising or not, this is the classical 101 case of induction. It is often safe to proceed from inductive basis, but it is not grounds for "knowledge" - it cannot pass our burden of proof.

I don't think that knowledge is gained only from the conclusion of a logical argument. E.g., the premises of a logical argument. Godel's incompleteness theorems have shown that no formal system (i.e., deductive logic) can prove itself. That leaves you with definitions, concepts and actions previous to logical analysis, and it certainly is possible to know (or be ignorant of) those things.

 

That is why I asked (sarcastically) if it was the solipsistic inquisition; anyone who believes it's impossible to prove something without a logical argument is essentially practicing philosophical skepticism, which is based on an impoverished idea of what knowledge is. Descartes, in his analysis in the Meditations, believes he can escape from his method of "doubt" (I'm none too sure it's appropriate to call it that) by asserting "I think, therefore thinking exists." But he has no logical reason to believe that he knows what "thinking" is, if anything, and he was incorrect to think he had discovered the foundations of certainty with the Cogito.

 

Doubt can be satisfied by an explanation. If there's doubt as to whether the sun will rise in the morning, one can always show the laws of gravity, etc, and provide that sort of reasoning. Philosophical doubt is is essentially meaningless in this sense: since there is no possible answer, no answer is required. Philosophical skepticism isn't refutable; it's just nonsense.

 

Now, whether "knowledge" exists is an entirely different question, perhaps for this thread if it is related to our focus on things that can pass the "burden" of proof in our case. (Not likely....)
This is an example of my point from above. If you're unaware of how to use the word "knowledge", dictionaries are always useful.

 

More difficult a question is mathematics - we could start there. I will look for some citations to not be just a talking know-it-all (far from it).

 

Math seems so beautiful, pristine, perfect and flawless in every way, a logical masterpiece beyond the matrix (obviously :facepalm: )... yet it could be just a bunch of hablooey abracapocus. This is agreed upon by many scientists and philosophers, but certainly not all!

I don't know what you mean by "it could be a bunch of hablooey abracapocus." Math is a set (or sets) of rules governing the use of concepts which have formed due to our living in the world. Its relationship to reality is no more mysterious than that of language. If you want to say that 1+1=2 could be a bunch of hablooey abracapocus, you'll have to explain what you mean. To me, that's similar to saying that a stop sign at a busy intersection could be a bunch of hablooey abracapocus. I don't know what it's supposed to mean, if anything.
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I don't think that knowledge is gained only from the conclusion of a logical argument. E.g., the premises of a logical argument. Godel's incompleteness theorems have shown that no formal system (i.e., deductive logic) can prove itself. That leaves you with definitions, concepts and actions previous to logical analysis, and it certainly is possible to know (or be ignorant of) those things.

 

If not by logic, then how would you suggest we expand upon our base of knowledge? It really is the only way we do. It doesn't mean that all our answers are right, but we certainly have come to many more RIGHT answers than before we started doing analytical thinking.

 

Doubt can be satisfied by an explanation. If there's doubt as to whether the sun will rise in the morning, one can always show the laws of gravity, etc, and provide that sort of reasoning. Philosophical doubt is is essentially meaningless in this sense: since there is no possible answer, no answer is required. Philosophical skepticism isn't refutable; it's just nonsense.

 

I couldn't agree more. If one logical argument is pushed out the window, I would like for something more plausible to take its place. The point of presenting the big bang theory, despite not having proved it, is to demonstrate the most likely scenario we have based on the evidence we've collected so far. The more we learn, the more likely we will know what actually happened. If it's not true, then they will have to change the theory in order to work within the confines of the evidence. When evidence is found that contradicts a theory, you must either change the theory or disprove the validity of that evidence. Otherwise you go nowhere with an argument that you know can't work.

 

I don't know what you mean by "it could be a bunch of hablooey abracapocus." Math is a set (or sets) of rules governing the use of concepts which have formed due to our living in the world. Its relationship to reality is no more mysterious than that of language. If you want to say that 1+1=2 could be a bunch of hablooey abracapocus, you'll have to explain what you mean. To me, that's similar to saying that a stop sign at a busy intersection could be a bunch of hablooey abracapocus. I don't know what it's supposed to mean, if anything.

 

The rules of mathematics always remains consistent. You will ALWAYS get the same answer no matter which state you are in, or what language you speak. The errors in mathematics comes when humans attempt to apply it. You will always get the same answer from a calculator, no matter how many times you punch the equation in. The only times math falls apart is if you use a method or if the tool you work with malfunctions. A programing error would fall within the category of malfunction.

Edited by Darth_Yuthura
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If not by logic, then how would you suggest we expand upon our base of knowledge? It really is the only way we do. It doesn't mean that all our answers are right, but we certainly have come to many more RIGHT answers than before we started doing analytical thinking.
You misunderstand. I'm not interested in saying logic isn't an extremely useful and productive way to go about learning things. It is. It's just I don't think that all knowledge is necessarily reducible to the results of deductive logic.

 

The rules of mathematics always remains consistent. You will ALWAYS get the same answer no matter which state you are in, or what language you speak. The errors in mathematics comes when humans attempt to apply it. You will always get the same answer from a calculator, no matter how many times you punch the equation in. The only times math falls apart is if you use a method or if the tool you work with malfunctions. A programing error would fall within the category of malfunction.
"The rules of stop signs always remain consistent. You will ALWAYS stop no matter what state you are in or language you speak. The errors in following the rules of the stop sign [only] come [in] when humans attempt to stop at them...the only times stop signs don't work is if you don't understand the sign or if your car malfunctions..."

 

I'm not saying you're wrong about the whole mathematics thing, but you can see why I'm wary of speaking of the transcendental nature of mathematics - or of stop signs. They're both things we have a use for and neither one requires any sort of metaphysical justification.

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@vanir - you are close to what I am getting at with math, but I have some stronger examples, I simply have to find them. Your post reminded me of a conundrum though.... where are all the "white" holes, since the law of opposites demands one, if we are to take singularities as "real"?

 

It's actually the subject of some discussion from me at a number of science forums and I've managed to achieve an amount of concordance among at least one PhD theoretician and a highly qualified mathematician, not something I say in pride but simply appreciative since I'm really fairly unqualified to dispute or confirm working theorum.

 

Singularities are a mathematical paradox, purely mathematical in nature. The Black Hole models for example (say the classical Kerr metric) is a working basis for extrapolating other theorum under exotic circumstances. In this case it is an accurate depiction of say, quantum mechanics in this environment and their relation to the macrouniverse. However the very nature of a singularity is a one-sided equation, which is essentially how they're formed, they are by definition incomplete theorum, but a working model based upon what we know so far, only what we know so far. Lines of infinity do not exist in the real world, but serve the purpose of workable mathematical models for the mid section of a graph let's say.

 

Where you get a problem is when someone, typical scientific journalists decide to take this conundrum and turn it into a physical description, for example singularities might lead to other universes, or a wormhole between geometric localities. It doesn't really work that way, even though the math is good. It's based on the fact the math is incomplete to start with.

 

What appears most likely at this stage, for an accurate physical description of a Black Hole is the string theorists "fuzzy star" which is an essentially black body object with exotic properties and a diameter equal to the event horizon. But string theory is still in the hypothesis stages of development and requires a lot of improbable correlation to become a working theory. So what we have is a physical description which is highly likely but doesn't have the math to back it up at this stage, the math which works is the Black Hole models using QP and GR (but no UFT).

 

What I'm saying is that singularities describe objects which do not exist in the real world, but accurately describe the properties of objects which do, but are something else entirely and no less exotic.

 

So no white holes, but a black body with exotic properties and in some cases even inert and latent (the Reisner-Nordstr'm solution with a fuzzy star bend, the elusive naked singularity is really a death-moon of ultimate inertia but no tidal forces).

 

No white holes, no M-brane, just classical physics and incomplete theorum.

 

 

----> to minmartin, my apolegies for reference in previous post. I shall be more vigilant in future, and had honestly thought it kochure (hence I should be more vigilant). Sorry mate, never wish to cause probs at LF, which I quite like. I'll be more careful.

 

 

 

To all, I'm a little confused about where math itself breaks down in 100% reliability as a working model for the physical universe. If it works, there's math for it, if there's a process and what isn't, there's math for it. We may not know it or its full scope of constituents (complex evolutionary diversity can compound mathematical model into chaos theory), but there is math and it is 100% reliable assuming no limitation of processing power or data input. Math is after all the language of science, it is the one language beyond language and in a sense is transcendant. You could communicate with an advanced technological civilisation with it, even where your normal modes of communication were rendered unusable.

 

Palaeoanthropologists use it to understand the cultural scope of ancient civilisations such as the Mayans, have totally changed existing preconceptions about human development concordant with technology (current theory is a constant intellectual potential, just a changing technological industry). It is even transcendant in a closed environment from this perspective.

 

I fail to see at this point where it breaks down in philosophy, the womb of science.

Edited by vanir
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I think I can see what it is you're getting at, Qui-Gon Glenn. Metaphysics, what it would be like to understand things beyond our current comprehension... Well, Math is pretty solid, as far as I know. The thing you're getting at here is that Mathematics was invented by humans, humans are flawed and limited in their comprehension of the universe, and thus, since humans are flawed, is it possible that mathematics is flawed as well?

 

Well, since I am a human, my method of calculatory reasoning is based on mathematics. 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9; these are the ten numbers by which we understand the universe. But the point you're trying to get at, I'm guessing, is, what if the universe's mathematics are different than human mathematics? What if the universe works by five digits, or twelve? What if the universe is so complex and mysterious that it only appears to function consistently through the 10-digit system, but in fact, doesn't? What if the universe is mysteriously outside of human understanding?

 

Well, it's possible, but my cognition of the processes of ~everything~ only work through human reasoning, and so it is really a waste of time for me to attempt to comprehend it in any other way but the ways that I can already comprehend it.

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Well mathematics is essentially always perfect, assuming you follow the rules established by our own laws of 1-10, the methods by which you do calculations, and so forth. It should be noted that the symbols of 0-9 are just units of measurement and there could very well be many more symbols made to represent 10,12, 15... it doesn't matter, so long as you are able to properly translate the theoretical numbers back into what they would represent in the 1-10 system.

 

The units may change, but whatever you use them for don't change if you were to switch to metric time, making a right angle be 100 instead of 90 degrees. All you have to do is remember to translate the integers from any alternate system back into what we use. A metric clock would have to make each hour represent 72 minutes, but it would work.

 

There is no universal system, but each one can work just as properly as the one we are accustomed to. We use systems of 3 quite a lot actually, so it does work in our everyday lives alongside the metric system.

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The units may change, but whatever you use them for don't change if you were to switch to metric time, making a right angle be 100 instead of 90 degrees. All you have to do is remember to translate the integers from any alternate system back into what we use. A metric clock would have to make each hour represent 72 minutes, but it would work.

 

There is no such thing as "metric time" with a day split into two halves of 10 hours of 72 minutes. Metric time is based on the second and also based on a proportion of the solar day. Just cause the simpsons and futurama used it as a joke does not make it true....because most Americans are clueless when it comes to the metric and SI system.

 

True metric time is based on the second and uses standard SI prefixes (megasecond, kilosecond, etc). Since a megasecond is the next higher recognized order of magnitude above a kilosecond (3.6 kiloseconds are in a standard hour btw), one megasecond is 1000 kilosecond is 11.574 days. That's not usable for humans. True "metric time" is used for occurrences on a galactic scale, or for incredibly fast acting occurrences (nuclear fission, picoseconds, etc). For normal use, our current system of twenty four hours of sixty minutes each is in accordance with "metric time." Myth conclusively debunked.

 

What you refer to is so-called "decimal time," or "French Revolutionary time." Both of these use non standard units of measure, and do NOT use the metric second as a basis. The standard measure of time, our 24 hours of 60 minutes of 60 seconds DOES use the standard metric second. Thus....noone seriously uses the "decimal/French Revolutionary" timescales.

 

As for degrees, the metric unit is radians which is based on the definition of a circle. It is defined as the angle where the radius of the circle is equal to the arc length described by the angle. This is the metric measurement.

 

Degrees aren't arbitrary either. You can place at most six equilateral triangles inside a circle, with one side of each equilateral triangle being an equilateral chord of the circle that is also equal to the radius of the circle. Six such chords make up the circle, and each chord desribes one sixtieth of it. Hence, six times sixty, 360 degrees. This has been known and described since Babylonian times. Again, degrees aren't arbitrary, so you cannot try to rename 90degrees as 100 degrees.

 

An attempt was made to do exactly as you suggest, and convert a circle to 400 "grads" or "gon." This has gained little traction outside of fields like surveying. Degrees and radians are the correct accepted units of angular measure.

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Well mathematics is essentially always perfect, assuming you follow the rules established by our own laws of 1-10, the methods by which you do calculations, and so forth. It should be noted that the symbols of 0-9 are just units of measurement and there could very well be many more symbols made to represent 10,12, 15... it doesn't matter, so long as you are able to properly translate the theoretical numbers back into what they would represent in the 1-10 system.

 

The units may change, but whatever you use them for don't change if you were to switch to metric time, making a right angle be 100 instead of 90 degrees. All you have to do is remember to translate the integers from any alternate system back into what we use. A metric clock would have to make each hour represent 72 minutes, but it would work.

 

There is no universal system, but each one can work just as properly as the one we are accustomed to. We use systems of 3 quite a lot actually, so it does work in our everyday lives alongside the metric system.

 

Agreeing with what Bimmerman said in debunking the metric clock idea, Doesn't this break also down when it comes to numbers like Pi? If another sentient life form were to exist, it would seem logical that they would end up using Pi too, except that their numbers might just be in another language. But still, the 10 digit system seems pretty universal to me. Otherwise they'd calculate Pi incorrectly.

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I'm wasn't actually suggesting that you would actually use metric time. Obviously it makes no sense to have 60 sec, 72 min, 20 hours; but it can work just as well. The beauty of metrics is that every increase in units is done by factors of ten, which is simply moving the decimal place around to make 1.3 x 10^7 instead of writing 13,000,000. When you get into standard units, this ability is lost.

 

It doesn't mean that ten is some magical number that makes this function everywhere in the universe. As stated by Arcesious, you could do the same thing using 12 as a basis, so long as you create additional symbols that represent the numbers for 10 and 11. These symbols (10,11) are based on the powers of ten, which is why you would have to scrap them and create something like 'T' and 'E' so that you would have a numbering system that treats these as integers.

 

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,T,E,10 Then 11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,1T,1E,20

Towards the end: E0,E1,E2,E3,E4,E5,E6,E7,E8,E9,ET,EE

The last number in this sequence would be 100, but it would represent 144 (12*12) under this system. This is odd to conceive, but if you had 12 groups of 12, how is that different from metric?

 

In my example, '10' now represents all of the following integers: (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,T,E,10) The symbol is the same as metric, but it actually represents 12 integers now.

 

My point is that if you theoretically came across another race of sentient beings who devised their own system of mathematics, they could very well have used a different system that works just as well as ours. Which one is right? Both work just as well, but are simply different. I'm not proclaiming that we switch or anything, but I'm saying that our systems are not the only ones that work in the universe.

 

Pi would universally be 3.12159 no matter what language you use; but that doesn't mean it must abide by the 1-10 system of integers. These are pretty universal, but the 1-10 integer system is not.

Edited by Darth_Yuthura
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I'm wasn't actually suggesting that you would actually use metric time.

 

I know, I just wanted to explain the fallacy before someone who doesn't know better runs with it.

 

Obviously it makes no sense to have 60 sec, 72 min, 20 hours; but it can work just as well. The beauty of metrics is that every increase in units is done by factors of ten, which is simply moving the decimal place around to make 1.3 x 10^7 instead of writing 13,000,000. When you get into standard units, this ability is lost.

 

Yes, but metric time itself, when adapted to our time scale, does not fit the nice exponential powers-of-ten graduations nearly as well. That was my point. I'm not sure what you mean by the bolded statement however.

 

It doesn't mean that ten is some magical number that makes this function everywhere in the universe. As stated by Arcesious, you could do the same thing using 12 as a basis, so long as you create additional symbols that represent the numbers for 10 and 11. These symbols (10,11) are based on the powers of ten, which is why you would have to scrap them and create something like 'T' and 'E' so that you would have a numbering system that treats these as integers.

 

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,T,E,10 Then 11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,1T,1E,20

Towards the end: E0,E1,E2,E3,E4,E5,E6,E7,E8,E9,ET,EE

The last number in this sequence would be 100, but it would represent 144 (12*12) under this system. This is odd to conceive, but if you had 12 groups of 12, how is that different from metric?

 

In my example, '10' now represents all of the following integers: (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,T,E,10) The symbol is the same as metric, but it actually represents 12 integers now.

 

Yup, you just described base 12. The "T" in yours is often an A or X, but the symbols themselves hardly matter.

 

My point is that if you theoretically came across another race of sentient beings who devised their own system of mathematics, they could very well have used a different system that works just as well as ours. Which one is right? Both work just as well, but are simply different. I'm not proclaiming that we switch or anything, but I'm saying that our systems are not the only ones that work in the universe.
Same goes for computers. We use hexadecimal which is like base 12 but is base 16.

 

Pi would universally be 3.12159 no matter what language you use; but that doesn't mean it must abide by the 1-10 system of integers. These are pretty universal, but the 1-10 integer system is not.

 

Exactly. Pi is a ratio, nothing more or less. Depending on what base system you use, the exact number will change, but the ratio itself and meaning of the ratio is universal.

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