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Author Topic: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"  (Read 6019 times)

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Captain Oblivious

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So, again another question I was asked by my Psychology tutors, and I am interested in what you guys think!
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tw2113

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2009, 05:31:56 PM »

How do you prove there's a god
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Captain Oblivious

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2009, 05:33:58 PM »

How do you prove there's a god

or isn't. that was my main argument haha. also, we can't define love, we can't explain why it happens. same with jealousy and anger, really. emotions serve no survival purpose, so why do we have them?
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tw2113

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2009, 06:13:54 PM »

How do newborns know how to cry?

It's something that happens within minutes of birth and no time to teach.
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Captain Oblivious

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2009, 06:15:55 PM »

How do newborns know how to cry?

It's something that happens within minutes of birth and no time to teach.

that one is related to survival, but i agree with you about instinctive behaviour such as that.
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peppamintdynamo

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2009, 06:27:19 PM »

I think a lot of the emotional things probably could be explained by science... they are finding out new and interesting things about the brain every day.  :love5:

Something I'd be interested to know is why we have deja vu?
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Tiervexx

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2009, 06:35:28 PM »

How do you prove there's a god

or isn't. that was my main argument haha. also, we can't define love, we can't explain why it happens. same with jealousy and anger, really. emotions serve no survival purpose, so why do we have them?

Anything with an objective answer is in the realm of scientific enquiry.  Not only are the things you all listed not outside science, but they are already understood.  Don't dare say something is beyond science just because you don't know why.

Emotions are the results of hormones within the brain.  We are still working out details but the chemicals that cause the feeling of love and jealousy and other emotions are understood.

You could not be more wrong in your assertion that emotions serve no survival purpose.  Without emotions you might just stand their like an idiot and let a bear eat you.  After all, why not?  With no emotion why care if you get eaten?  Without love and lust why reproduce?  Without anger why not let someone walk all over you?  They have obvious survival purposes.

This basic idea about why we need emotions to do anything is also why a computer with super advanced AI would not just spontaneously want to take over the world.  Without some emotions, like ambition why should it care to do so?  It would just sit there like a rock.

How do newborns know how to cry?

It's something that happens within minutes of birth and no time to teach.

Not all knowledge has to be learned.  Every creature is born knowing certain things called instincts.  These exist because as your brain grows certain things are already imprinted in it.  Humans have a relatively short list of instincts, many beasts have more.  Some animals, like sharks, are probably born knowing everything they will ever know.

The ONLY things that are outside science are things with no objective answers or have completely nonsensical answers like:

-What is the square root of a steak?
-How do you count to potato?
-Is blond hair prettier than black?
-What is god?

tw2113's question about how to prove there's a god is the only question you all have purposed so far that fits the bill.  To answer this question we'd first have to define god.  By many common definitions god is a totally nonsensical concept.

Sorry if this post comes off as mean but it bothered me to see some of you ask questions that are not only in the realm of science but also already known.

Something I'd be interested to know is why we have deja vu?

There are at least two things that cause it.  One: "Another theory being explored is that of vision. As the theory suggests, one eye may record what is seen fractionally faster than the other, creating that "strong recollection" sensation upon the "same" scene being viewed milliseconds later by the opposite eye"

the other is a bit more complicated.  It can be because you have a very vague memory of the same thing, perhaps in a different situation, than you encounter something similar without having a complete memory of the earlier situation.  In other words, you get that feeling when trying to make sense of the crappy memory humans have.
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peppamintdynamo

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2009, 06:41:54 PM »

Quote
Don't dare say something is beyond science just because you don't know why.

Agreed. I think maybe it would be best if the topic was changed to something more along the lines of "Things we wish science would give us the answer to... NOW!" or "How in the hell does this work?"

I'm sure someone, somewhere knows how dejavu works, and why, or is working that out. As a sciency person myself, it makes me wonder though, because I havent heard any definite theory that has been accepted by science.
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Captain Oblivious

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2009, 06:51:21 PM »

You could not be more wrong in your assertion that emotions serve no survival purpose.  Without emotions you might just stand their like an idiot and let a bear eat you.  After all, why not?  With no emotion why care if you get eaten?  Without love and lust why reproduce?  Without anger why not let someone walk all over you?  They have obvious survival purposes.

animals don't have the complex emotions that we do, yet they survive just fine. why do we need love, or jealousy? i understand why we would have lust etc. also. we know that love is a product of certain hormones being triggered, but why? why that person, why this time? why does it make us feel like it does, why is it different for everyone, and why does it feel different for every person we love. we don't understand love in the least.
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tw2113

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2009, 07:34:33 PM »

i still believe that plants can feel pain and humans just have zero ways to interpret the signals and have yet to figure out how :D.

VEGETARIANISM IS MURDER!!!!

I'm done now
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Tiervexx

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2009, 07:57:37 PM »

You could not be more wrong in your assertion that emotions serve no survival purpose.  Without emotions you might just stand their like an idiot and let a bear eat you.  After all, why not?  With no emotion why care if you get eaten?  Without love and lust why reproduce?  Without anger why not let someone walk all over you?  They have obvious survival purposes.

animals don't have the complex emotions that we do, yet they survive just fine. why do we need love, or jealousy? i understand why we would have lust etc. also. we know that love is a product of certain hormones being triggered, but why? why that person, why this time? why does it make us feel like it does, why is it different for everyone, and why does it feel different for every person we love. we don't understand love in the least.

You are half right.  Animal emotions are not as complex as our own but they still have them.  If a rabbit did not fear a wolf it would just stand their and let itself be eaten.

Social animals also have feelings of anger, jealousy and many monogamous animals also feel love.  After the death of a mate or friend many animals including dogs, otters and monkeys will noticeably morn.

Love makes us feel the way it does because it forces us to pay attention to it and do the best we can to eventually do things that will increase the probability of us having healthy offspring.  From the perspective of someone in love it is incomprehensible because it blinds us but from the perspective of a scientist studying behavior or hormones in the brain it really is not all that mystifying at all.

We feel jealousy to motivate us to acquire something that will benefit us, whether it's a mate or an object.  Is it really that hard for you to see why?  Jealousy feels terrible but that's why it's a great motivator.  Love feels grant and mystifying so it will do a good job of pushing you towards that potential mate.  All emotions are motivators that push us to do things that will increase our survival/reproductive rates.

Don't say we don't understand love in the least just because you are not familiar with the scientific explanations.


I'm sure someone, somewhere knows how dejavu works, and why, or is working that out. As a sciency person myself, it makes me wonder though, because I havent heard any definite theory that has been accepted by science.

I think that the explanations I posted are pretty good.  If you do a google search you can find more detail on them.
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peppamintdynamo

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2009, 10:10:06 PM »

^^^ for some reason i didn't see your explanation when I was first reading! :P Thank you!!!
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peppamintdynamo

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2009, 10:12:29 PM »

You could not be more wrong in your assertion that emotions serve no survival purpose.  Without emotions you might just stand their like an idiot and let a bear eat you.  After all, why not?  With no emotion why care if you get eaten?  Without love and lust why reproduce?  Without anger why not let someone walk all over you?  They have obvious survival purposes.

animals don't have the complex emotions that we do, yet they survive just fine. why do we need love, or jealousy? i understand why we would have lust etc. also. we know that love is a product of certain hormones being triggered, but why? why that person, why this time? why does it make us feel like it does, why is it different for everyone, and why does it feel different for every person we love. we don't understand love in the least.

I would argue that Chimps, and other great apes, have very similar emotions to us, which could be considered complex.
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Tiervexx

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2009, 10:33:34 PM »

You could not be more wrong in your assertion that emotions serve no survival purpose.  Without emotions you might just stand their like an idiot and let a bear eat you.  After all, why not?  With no emotion why care if you get eaten?  Without love and lust why reproduce?  Without anger why not let someone walk all over you?  They have obvious survival purposes.

animals don't have the complex emotions that we do, yet they survive just fine. why do we need love, or jealousy? i understand why we would have lust etc. also. we know that love is a product of certain hormones being triggered, but why? why that person, why this time? why does it make us feel like it does, why is it different for everyone, and why does it feel different for every person we love. we don't understand love in the least.

I would argue that Chimps, and other great apes, have very similar emotions to us, which could be considered complex.

Word.

Like one professor I was talking to said in reference to a creationist student not believing we could come from animals "we think way too highly of ourselves..."
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peppamintdynamo

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2009, 10:36:59 PM »

You could not be more wrong in your assertion that emotions serve no survival purpose.  Without emotions you might just stand their like an idiot and let a bear eat you.  After all, why not?  With no emotion why care if you get eaten?  Without love and lust why reproduce?  Without anger why not let someone walk all over you?  They have obvious survival purposes.

animals don't have the complex emotions that we do, yet they survive just fine. why do we need love, or jealousy? i understand why we would have lust etc. also. we know that love is a product of certain hormones being triggered, but why? why that person, why this time? why does it make us feel like it does, why is it different for everyone, and why does it feel different for every person we love. we don't understand love in the least.

I would argue that Chimps, and other great apes, have very similar emotions to us, which could be considered complex.

Word.

Like one professor I was talking to said in reference to a creationist student not believing we could come from animals "we think way too highly of ourselves..."

Seriously. Also, I am pretty sure dolphin are significantly smarter than us, they just have a different type of intelligence. It may be one we can't comprehend. One show of how advanced a brain is how many indent squiggily things it has (very scientific term, I know,) and it's size.



Our definition of intelligence is very skewed.
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N.U.

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #15 on: December 27, 2009, 05:46:37 AM »

Bigger ain't better, otherwise Elephants and Whales woudl be the smartest animals on the planet.
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Morpheus Laughing

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #16 on: December 27, 2009, 10:05:48 AM »

Some answers are off-limits until answers for other things have been discoverered. Even so, these are questions that can be approached scientifically because it is possible to make predictions about them that are falsifiable.  If you can identify the features of the questions you can begin to make probability assessments about their truth value.

Some questions are not falsifiable, but this raises a question about how meaningful the questions are in the first place. If these questions are not answerable by the scientific method, in what other way could they be answered? Sometimes you have to analyse what your question is asking I.e. is the question making too many assumptions (this is essentially what theological noncognitivism says about God questions).

Brain size:

I've been reading some interesting stuff about the formation of abnormally small brains in some humans. These people can occasionally function with  normal and above average intelligence with perhaps as little as 5% of normal brain volume. 
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peppamintdynamo

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #17 on: December 27, 2009, 12:10:26 PM »

Bigger ain't better, otherwise Elephants and Whales woudl be the smartest animals on the planet.

I did not just say bigger, and that was not my main point. I know that bigger doesnt necessarily mean more intelligence, but bigger paired with more complex indent patterns (excuse the fact that i dont remember the word for them) DOES suggest higher intelligence. 
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embitteredatheist

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #18 on: December 27, 2009, 03:15:26 PM »

Oooooh.

Now, this is going to be a kind of longish post.

In the field of maths, a mathematician by the name of Kurt Godel came up with a very elegant proof of a very interesting idea - no matter how powerful a system one derives to describe mathematics, that system will contain a statement which is unprovable, even though it is true. This led to a related bit of work by Alan Turing, who proved the existence of what are called undecidable problems - problems where there is no definable solution in the context of a machine. I'll skip the details - for a good explanation, look for 'halting problem' and 'Church-Turing thesis'.

The bit where this starts to get -really- interesting (and I get on-topic), is that the machines that Turing worked with are all of the same type in terms of the set of problems they can solve. In fact, we don't actually know of any practical ways of computing things that are not equivalent to these machines, that is to say, of solving problems outside of this set. It's even an open question as to whether we, in terms of our brains, aren't equivalent to these machines (in the sense that they can do anything that we can do ignoring speed differences).

I'd argue that there -might- exist problems that are 'beyond the realm of scientific enquiry' by way of this argument.

1) Assuming that our brains are equivalent to these machines by way of the Church-Turing thesis;
2) There exist problems where there is no definable solution in the context of these 'machines';
3) Therefore, there exist problems where there is no definable solution in the context of our brains;
4) Science is defined as being (per wikipedia) "in its broadest sense, any systematic knowledge-base or prescriptive practice that is capable of resulting in a prediction or predictable type of outcome";
5) Science is a construct of human logic and reasoning.

Therefore;

There exist questions/problems that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry because of the fact that there are problems where there is no definable solution or outcome when we apply our brains to them, and science is a systematic approach capable of predicting outcomes, created by humans.

The reason for the 'might' is simply that this argument does hinge on human brains/logic being equivalent to these machines. This is, as I said, an open question. It also doesn't really help to give you an example of such a question.
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Tiervexx

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2009, 06:15:31 PM »


Seriously. Also, I am pretty sure dolphin are significantly smarter than us, they just have a different type of intelligence. It may be one we can't comprehend. One show of how advanced a brain is how many indent squiggily things it has (very scientific term, I know,) and it's size.

The "indent squiggily things" are not directly related to intelligence.  That is an outdated and insufficient view of the brain.  Your brain's power comes from the neurons.  More neurons means more potential processing power.

Dolphins are definitively much dumber than we are.  Their brains are inflated because they contain more glial cells which just protect and insulate the neurons without lending any processing power.  Human brains are actually bigger if you strip away all the nonessential.

Also, you must take the animal's body size into account.  It takes more gray matter to control bigger bodies.

Furthermore, dolphins have never demonstrated any behavior that is even remotely as sophisticated as humans.  There are even a number of animals in between humans and dolphins including other apes and perhaps crows as well.

Seriously... discussions of animal intelligence always over look crows.  Tests on their thought power has found some interesting things.  Crows in the cities have figured out to watch for red lights in an intersection, drop nuts on the street, than pick them back up after the cars drive over them and crack them open.  Crows will also spit water into a narrow hole to cause food to float up to where they can grab it.
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peppamintdynamo

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #20 on: December 27, 2009, 06:31:54 PM »


Seriously. Also, I am pretty sure dolphin are significantly smarter than us, they just have a different type of intelligence. It may be one we can't comprehend. One show of how advanced a brain is how many indent squiggily things it has (very scientific term, I know,) and it's size.

The "indent squiggily things" are not directly related to intelligence.  Your brain's power comes from the neurons.  More neurons means more potential processing power.

Dolphins are definitively much dumber than we are.  Their brains are inflated because they contain more glial cells which just protect and insulate the neurons without lending any processing power.  Human brains are actually bigger if you strip away all the nonessential.

Also, you must take the animal's body size into account.  It takes more gray matter to control bigger bodies.

Furthermore, dolphins have never demonstrated any behavior that is even remotely as sophisticated as humans.  There are even a number of animals in between humans and dolphins including other apes and perhaps crows as well.

Seriously... discussions of animal intelligence always over look crows.  Tests on their thought power has found some interesting things.  Crows in the cities have figured out to watch for red lights in an intersection, drop nuts on the street, than pick them back up after the cars drive over them and crack them open.  Crows will also spit water into a narrow hole to cause food to float up to where they can grab it.

I would argue that this "sophistication" you are referring to is biased, because the only intelligence that we are familiar with is our own. They live in a much different environment, and thus have adapted to the needs of that environment.

It's hard to compare humans to dolphins, because of environmental factors. Intelligence is hard to compare because the brains of different animals have evolved to excel in different enviornments. I would ask, that before you write off the dolphin theory, you read these articles.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2003/jul/03/research.science

http://www.jref.com/forum/showthread.php?t=23299


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Tiervexx

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Re: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"
« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2009, 07:05:32 PM »


Seriously. Also, I am pretty sure dolphin are significantly smarter than us, they just have a different type of intelligence. It may be one we can't comprehend. One show of how advanced a brain is how many indent squiggily things it has (very scientific term, I know,) and it's size.

The "indent squiggily things" are not directly related to intelligence.  Your brain's power comes from the neurons.  More neurons means more potential processing power.

Dolphins are definitively much dumber than we are.  Their brains are inflated because they contain more glial cells which just protect and insulate the neurons without lending any processing power.  Human brains are actually bigger if you strip away all the nonessential.

Also, you must take the animal's body size into account.  It takes more gray matter to control bigger bodies.

Furthermore, dolphins have never demonstrated any behavior that is even remotely as sophisticated as humans.  There are even a number of animals in between humans and dolphins including other apes and perhaps crows as well.

Seriously... discussions of animal intelligence always over look crows.  Tests on their thought power has found some interesting things.  Crows in the cities have figured out to watch for red lights in an intersection, drop nuts on the street, than pick them back up after the cars drive over them and crack them open.  Crows will also spit water into a narrow hole to cause food to float up to where they can grab it.

I would argue that this "sophistication" you are referring to is biased, because the only intelligence that we are familiar with is our own. They live in a much different environment, and thus have adapted to the needs of that environment.

It's hard to compare humans to dolphins, because of environmental factors. Intelligence is hard to compare because the brains of different animals have evolved to excel in different enviornments. I would ask, that before you write off the dolphin theory, you read these articles.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2003/jul/03/research.science

http://www.jref.com/forum/showthread.php?t=23299

Dolphins are definitively smart but not as smart as humans.  I did not see any behaviors in those links that go beyond what humans can do.  Yes they evolved for different environments but I believe humans contain all of the problem solving skills of dolphins plus a number of others that dolphins have never demonstrated a comprehension of, like how we build things.

It is very likely that the EQ ratio is strongly correlated with intelligence.  Dolphins might actually be second to humans but we still beat them significantly in this.
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