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Re: Paleontology is science, not art



I said:
(I'm not one of those people who believe that because something is true in
math it must be true in reality.)
You responded:
So you're saying that, say, one plus one equals two may not necessarily be
true in reality? Exactly where would you say that math breaks down?

I accidentally sent a draft (getting e-mails into and out of the Draft file
in Outlook Express is more difficult than it should be); I was going to
defer exactly this question to you in the final version.
Still, I expected you to reply that first, there is no addition occurring in
nature.  What does one or two mean to any species but us?  Math is an
abstraction, a way or organizing material initially based on real world
observations.
>From there, in a second step, 'verified' abstractions (getting one apple and
another apple does in fact give you two apples) get combined logically to
the point where you are producing a result which can be considered 'true'
only because the assumptions used have been verified.  The result can be
considered true based on the assumption that there is a single possible way
to combine verified abstractions to produce an unverified abstraction.
The third step is to combine unverified abstractions to produce a new
conclusion which is really distant from any possible observations.
Because Honored Person White used physics as an example, let's take string
theory.  Has anyone ever seen a string?  Is there any way to prove this
theory as compared with an alternative theory on the basis of observations?
Could you begin a statement 'String theory is true if and only if...'
(insert a real-world observation)?  Could you begin a statement 'String
theory is the only possible way to explain...' (insert real-world
observation)?
You would be better able to distinguish levels of abstraction than I, but I
expect that the weakness of math as a means of discovery is the assumption
that iron-clad single solution logical rules can be found.  Where someone
might say 'Only this solution can be true because only this solution
produces satisfactory equations', you have a closed logical system.
To me, that's where you hit leap of faith territory.
How'd I do?