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Author Topic: "Are there any questions that are beyond the realm of scientific enquiry?"  (Read 6040 times)

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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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