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Re: "running" elephants - locomotary analoges



HP Marjanovic wrote:
<However, the more garbage we put in, the smaller the probability 
that it 
will be consistent. The larger the set of speculations, the higher 
the 
probability that one will contradict others.>

You're assuming that the speculations arise independently, without 
any direct connection.  However, if other speculations or even 
the prnciples used to derive the other speculations are known 
to someone developing a new idea, and if that 'innovator' wishes 
to be consistent with the prior ideas, then the results will 
probably be consistent.
Given a set of premises, principles, you and I could develop 
ideas which were consistent with each other.  If a new observation 
contradicted any of the ideas we had reasoned, then we could 
make only such changes in our ideas as would allow for the observation. 
 The premises themselves would be untouched.  We could do all 
this without ever conversing.
What I'm describing is, of course, a closed system, one which 
cannot suffer ultimate refutation.  It's based not on the existence 
of unlocateable agents, but on irrefutable logical principles. 
 





= = = Original message = = =

HP Philidor wrote... 
 
> Using an example from the discussion, a conclusion that pterosaurs 

> above a certain size couldn't fly would be based on general 
principles, 
> but the material of which the bones were made is unknown. 
  
While it is unknown to a certain degree (we can test if the mineral 
is  
hydroxyapatite...), phylogenetic bracketing is there to give 
us an idea  
about what the precise composition of the collagen could have 
been like,  
and then there are fossils (like the azhdarchid IIRC tibia with 
a  
velociraptorine tooth in it) to give us an independent idea on 
the  
mechanical strength of the bone.  
  
> Because part of the material necessary to draw 
> a conclusion is wrong, the result is wrong. 
 
Sure. 
 
> Which is an elaborate way of saying garbage in, garbage out. 
 
> A problem will arise when there exists a set of self-consistent 
 
> speculations which happen to be factually wrong (if observations 
could 
> be made). In that case, a whole range of different approaches 
to a 
> problem using subsets of those speculations will produce consistent 

> results, apparently confirming the speculations. However, all 
that will 
> actually be confirmed is that the erroneous speculations are 
logically 
> consistent.  
> Consistent garbage in, consistent garbage out. 
 
However, the more garbage we put in, the smaller the probability 
that it 
will be consistent. The larger the set of speculations, the higher 
the 
probability that one will contradict others. 

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