Several months ago I wrote an article on Bill Gaede’s Thread Theory. Here I would like to provide a formal justification for the “visualization” approach to physics described in that article. I will do that by outlining an alternative version of the Scientific Method called the Rational Scientific Method. The number of proponents of this method has been slowly but steadily growing over the years. I don’t think there is 100% agreement in every last nuanced aspect of the method, but overall there is a common understanding. Below will be my understanding of it.

From now on I will refer to the Rational Scientific Method as the RSM and the current version of the Scientific Method as the CSM.

RATIONALITY

If one is going to have a “rational” method they need to define the term “rational.” Dictionary.com defines it as such:

  1. agreeable to reason; reasonable; sensible
  2. having or exercising reason, sound judgment, or good sense
  3. being in or characterized by full possession of one’s reason; sane; lucid
  4. endowed with the faculty of reason

So rational = reasonable. As I’ll argue later this illustrates why dictionaries have no place in science. They are not designed to give scientific definitions but to document common usages for everyday speech. Almost every word in a dictionary has multiple definitions, and oftentimes they are synonymous or circular.

In this case the definitions are synonymous, they simply point to another word without narrowing the usage. In addition what’s reasonable to one person may be unreasonable to another. Opinion cannot be the basis of a scientific term.

So what is the objective criterion? The only objective criterion for a definition is that it must be able to be used consistently.

If a theorist uses a key term at point A in his presentation he should use it to mean the exact same thing at point B and C. Otherwise he’s being inconsistent and leaving key words open to interpretation by the audience. People will come away with different understandings. This is the foundation of Religion — the ability to utilize concepts like belief, truth, proof, evidence, knowledge, and fact with respect to theories where key terms have been left open to interpretation.

Rationality on the other hand is about clarity and consistency. The antithesis of rationality is ambiguous, vague, unintelligible, incoherent, inconceivable, and unimaginable.

Rational – describes any communication in which the key terms have been defined to the point where there is only a single possible interpretation for them (i.e., where everyone understands the same thing)

A definition is a limitation on the usage of a term. A scientific definition is one which limits the usage of a term down to a single possible interpretation. Rational communication then is when the key terms have been provided with scientific definitions.

The key terms are those which are essential to communicating the meaning of the theory. No one expects you to provide scientific definitions for “a” and “the.” If the key terms were defined differently it would completely alter the meaning of the proposal and thus it is crucial that they be clearly delineated. The key terms are those which make or break your proposal.

EXPLANATION VS. PREDICTION

One of the major differences between the RSM and the CSM is that the RSM is strictly a formal means of proposing explanations. There is no provision for predictions whatsoever. The domain of the RSM is past events.

The CSM on the other hand holds prediction as the hallmark of a good “theory.” Simultaneously however they talk about explanations. The two become muddled together. The result is that the key terms of the CSM itself are left open to interpretation.

Take the term hypothesis.

A hypothesis is a proposition that is consistent with known data, but has been neither verified nor shown to be false.” – Wolfram Alpha

An idea that proposes a tentative explanation about a phenomenon or a narrow set of phenomena observed in the natural world. The two primary features of a scientific hypothesis are falsifiability and testability…” – Encyclopedia Britannica

A scientific hypothesis is the initial building block in the scientific method. Many describe it as an ‘educated guess,’ based on prior knowledge and observation. While this is true, the definition can be expanded. A hypothesis also includes an explanation of why the guess may be correct.” – LiveScience.com

The definitions show no clear distinction between explanation and prediction. A hypothesis allegedly incorporates both simultaneously. Yet the two are radically different. In the context of physics, the failure to draw a clear distinction has led to explanations being considered “proven” or “factual” because they are associated with an equation which can make accurate predictions. This has happened despite the explanations being irrational.

The RSM on the other hand clearly distinguishes explanation from prediction and only deals with the former. In order understand the RSM approach it is necessary to first define the critical term “object.”

OBJECT

object

An object is separated by its outline from its immediate surroundings. Whether something has shape is a black and white matter. It either does or does not, there is no conceivable in between possibility. There is no such thing as “half shape” or “partial shape.” An object does not in any way blend with its surrounding, the boundary is definite and sharp.

Shape is the only inherent quality of an object and is common to all of them. An object can have shape regardless of whether a living entity is there to observe, sense, or perceive it in any way meaning an object’s shape is innate and observer independent.

Object – that with shape

SPACE

Even a lone object in the Universe all by itself must still have a background in order for it to have shape. Space is the unbounded environment which is necessary for the lone object to have a contour.

Space – shapelessness (i.e. vacuum, emptiness, nothingness, formlessness, the void)

Pursuant to the above notion of the term “rational” the objectively distinguishing characteristic of these definitions is that they can be used consistently throughout a scientific dissertation and can drive out the possibility of miscommunication to the greatest extent humanly possible.

Ultimately visualization lies at the heart of all conceptualization. Objects can be visualized and this act precedes any defining of concepts. Upon inspection the mind outlines any relations and assigns labels to them. With objects as the basis one can begin to critically reason ever more complex and nested concepts and delineate them with scientific definitions.

THE INTELLECT AND THE SENSORY SYSTEM

experiecne etc

The above diagram is not meant to be scientific but is just a helpful tool to illustrate the thinking process at work here.

From our individual perspectives we are completely trapped within the world generated by our neural activity. All we ever have to draw upon is our immediate experience. That experience can be broadly divided into two distinct faculties: the intellect and the sensory system. The intellect is responsible for conceiving of objects and understanding concepts. The sensory system is responsible for processing evidence via the senses.

The intellect is distinct from the sensory system because one can always conceive of multiple possible theories to explain any given body of evidence (observations, measurements, experiments, equations). In that way the intellect is not contingent upon the sensory system. The intellect can draw from the unlimited possibilities whereas the sensory system is a direct line to the sensory organs. Not only can the intellect conceive of different explanations for the same evidence but it can conceive of the existence of objects which could never be directly gleaned through the senses — like the that of atoms or of galaxies beyond the visible universe. Whereas the sensory system is limited by the constraints inherent in using physical organs to interact with nature the intellect does not have these limitations. No matter how big or small or distant the intellect can conceive of the shape of the objects. The sensory system however doesn’t say anything about what is, it deals only in appearances and is always open to broad interpretation by the intellect.

ASSUMPTIONS

The fact that we are trapped within our own experience means that we have no choice but to conceive of ideas about the external world beyond our immediate experience. The sheer act of formulating ideas about external reality assumes that there is something forever beyond what is immediately available to us. Thus despite having access to evidence through the senses we will always be ultimately ignorant about the external. Because of this we have no choice but to make assumptions about existence.

Assumption – a statement taken at face value for the purpose of understanding a theory

Making an assumption does not mean that the statement is believed or regarded as true, it means that the statement is being temporarily entertained for the sole purpose of establishing understanding. Understanding always precedes any consideration of belief or truth. A claim has to be intelligible before one can even begin to decide whether they think it’s true or false. Therefore the assumptions must be asserted and analyzed prior to any assessment of belief or truth.

Assumptions can be categorized into two distinct camps: those in which the key terms have been defined consistently and those in which they have not. This is not a matter of belief, truth, proof, evidence, knowledge, fact, or any other subjective concept which relies on the sensory system. The individual is immediately aware of the assumptions via the intellect and can critically reason whether or not the definitions for the key terms can be used consistently.

In the depiction above I have divided the intellect into consistent and ambiguous/inconsistent. Within both are existential assumptions. There is no way to avoid making assumptions about existence in the course of proposing physical explanations. The only choice one has is between clarity and consistently or ambiguity and inconsistency.

The devil’s advocate may argue here that the two options are not distinct, that it’s more of a blurred mush and inevitably the theorist will fall somewhere in between clarity and vagueness. This is not the case however. Shape is the quality which stands out against the muddle as being clearly distinguished. An object lies in stark contrast to its immediate background, they are of clear and radically separate natures. Visualization is the basis of rational thought and allows for consistency.

Any attempt to define “object” without incorporating shape will render the assumptions ambiguous/inconsistent because it will allow for multiple “object-based” interpretations thus destroying any hope of scientific precision. The theorist will inevitably be leaving it up to their audience to pick and choose an interpretation from a host of “object-based” options. Visualization is the “finest” possible tool and will allow one to dismantle any competing definitions by exposing multiple interpretations and counterexamples.

KILL THE OBSERVER

Since the subject matter is existence we must use reason to isolate the qualities of objects which they have independent of any observers. What properties did the Earth have prior to the evolution of life? Objectivity is all about “killing the observer.” Definitions and scientific claims must be observer independent.

The devil’s advocate will argue that this is impossible. The process of critical analysis and theory formulation still involves an intellect, an observer.

Indeed, it requires a mind to make or understand scientific statements. However by formulating those claims in terms of qualities which objects can be understood to have independent of observation one “kills the observer” to the greatest extent possible.

There is a clear distinction between what the intellect can conceive and what is observed through the sensory system. The former is called Hypothesis & Theory, the latter is called Evidence. The observer who reports what they gather directly through the sensory system is the one that must be killed in science. The “observer” who imagines hypotheses and theories cannot and need not be killed. It is just imperative that the definitions and claims revolve around an existence which can be understood to persist in the absence of living entities.

Alternatively subjectivity is when one which relies on experience garnered through the sensory system. The concepts of belief, truth, proof, evidence, knowledge, and fact rely on sensory input in order to make a determination about whether the statement has been verified or falsified, or judged to be accepted to some degree.

EXISTENCE

I have defined the term “object.” I will now proceed to define the crucial term “existence.”

In defining existence is it imperative that shape be incorporated but this is not the only prerequisite. If it were then by definition any object would exist (circles, lines, squares, Superman, Bigfoot, Santa Claus, unicorns, etc.). All of these terms resolve to objects with shape and any that are three dimensional can serve as hypothetical objects within a theory. The reason they do not exist however is because they lack the second requirement: location.

In order to have a location an object must be somewhere with respect to everything else, such as you, me, the Earth, the Sun, the Andromeda galaxy, etc. An object without a location cannot be said to exist.

exist

 

Location – the set of static distances from one object to all others

Distance – the spatial separation between the surfaces of two objects

Existence – that with shape and location (i.e., object + location)

To exist is to have physical presence. Something somewhere. The definition of the terms “object” and “existence” have to be critically reasoned prior to any consideration of the evidence. Existence is observer independent. Something exists whether there’s any apes present to poke at it or not! The Earth, Moon, Sun, Andromeda Galaxy, etc., all existed prior to the evolution of humans. Neither their shape nor their location is dependent upon any observers.

THEORY VS. EVIDENCE

The devil’s advocate may concede that the definitions of “object” and “exist” can be critically reasoned, but how do you determine what actually exists? Don’t we still have to look at the moon to verify its presence? You can’t just pull everything out of your intellect arbitrarily!

First let’s define evidence.

Evidence – the body of observations, experiments, measurements, and equations (i.e., anything gleaned through the sensory system)

Evidence will undoubtedly shape hypotheses and theories. I see the moon. I want to formulate a theory to explain what I see. However when I do formulate the theory I start from the beginning — completely divorced from any evidence. I develop my definitions, I conceive of objects with shape, etc. The entire theory can be synthesized and presented without mentioning the evidence. And before I even consider the evidence I must make sure I have a rational theory first. Otherwise I’m engaged in a meaningless effort to compare evidence against something which cannot even be imagined or conceived. Additionally, I recognize that there are always multiple possible other theories which could be devised to explain the same evidence. Evidence never proves theory.

The key is that Theory and Evidence are eternally separate categories. Never the twain shall meet. The former is generated with the intellect from the unlimited possibilities while the latter is ascertained through the sensory system. While evidence will influence the intellect in the course of developing a theory when it comes time to present the theory it can be accomplished without communicating a single shred of evidence. One simply proposes the objects and their behavior along with the definitions.

Once it has been concluded that the theory is rational science is done. The presentation is over. We can then proceed to bust out all our pieces of evidence and quibble, according to our own personal opinions, about this or that if we’d like. Belief/disbelief, truth/falsity, proof/disproof, evidence for or against, known/unknown, fact or not, right/wrong, correct/incorrect, acceptance/denial, etc., all resolve to opinion. There’s nothing wrong with discussing the evidence as long as it is kept in the proper context, i.e., outside of science.

WHERE’S YOUR EVIDENCE?

When you propose a different theory than the one which is widely accepted by scientists oftentimes you’ll be accused of “ignoring evidence.” There seem to be two different notions of evidence which are typically employed, evidence and evidence for. The former I have defined above. Any body of accumulating evidence under that definition can have many different possible explanations. Proposing a theory which differs from the accepted one does not mean you are ignoring the evidence. You simply have a different interpretation.

People have been so conditioned to think in terms of belief, truth, proof, evidence, knowledge, and fact that they’ve fallen into the trap of developing dogma with respect to certain theories. To even assert a theory contrary to the widely accepted one is sometimes considered a blasphemy of sorts. This type of thinking relies on the second notion of evidence — evidence for.

Evidence for is a step beyond mere evidence because it asserts that certain evidence (observations, experiments, measurements, equations) objectively indicates one theory over another. That any given evidence is evidence for a certain theory boils down to someone’s personal opinion because it relies on input from the limited sensory system. At best you could describe it as scientific opinion. The devil’s advocate may want to ascribe some “objectivity” to it but nevertheless it is certainly not on the same plane of objectivity as the proposing of the theory itself.

SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTS AND DETECTION

It’s important to bear in mind when discussing physics that we are dealing with the very fundamental levels of existence. Whether or not we can see or detect something is immaterial. Even in the obvious case of the Moon the physicist must still ponder the mechanism by which the light reflected from its surface and entered into his retina. His sensory organs are the most basic scientific instruments and he has no choice but to theorize as to how they interact with the environment.

The empiricist will insist however that our sensory system is not just limited to our sensory organs, we can use instruments to peer into deep space or the subatomic world. Many times they want to assert that the definition of existence resolves to that which can be detected. When one responds that it would be impossible for distant galaxies well beyond the visible universe to exist the empiricist retorts that his definition has been misunderstood. He didn’t mean detectable by humans, or any other living entity, because of its proximity, he meant that something’s existence hinges upon whether it is able to be detected even if no one ever comes along and pokes it. It’s an ability that a thing possesses on its own which makes it real.

The empiricist has unwittingly incorporated the critically reasoned definition of existence, i.e., object + location. To say that something can be detected implies that it has the ability to interact with a detection instrument. In other words, it’s an object capable of interacting with another object, and the two are spatially separated until they have surface to surface contact. No matter what detection instruments we use, be they radio telescopes or the Large Hadron Collider, we’ve already assumed before we even turn them on that they will be interacting with objects in the environment.

Alternatively the empiricist will try to say that existence means to be measurable or quantifiable. Making measurements and quantifying are empirical processes which add to the evidence. These operations need to be interpreted by proposing a theory as to what was happening physically to account for these observations. Once again these processes imply interaction between objects which have shape and location.

At the end of the day the best we can do with these instruments is gather endless amounts of evidence. The readout on the radio telescope is evidence, the readout on the LHC is evidence. This is of course the entire point of empiricism. However the second we want to explain the evidence we have no choice but to invoke existence. After all it was real objects (environment) interacting with real objects (instruments) this entire time. We start at the beginning by conceiving of objects, formulating definitions, etc., and working towards a theory.

Once we have a rational theory only then can we bring in the voluminous amounts of data and argue according to our own personal opinions whether we think the theory explains the evidence or whether we believe the theory. And ultimately we always have to remember that there could be other possible theories of which we have not yet conceived. Evidence never proves theory.

“SUPERMAN EXISTS!”

The devil’s advocate will question why we can’t just suppose that one of the fantasy entities like Superman exists. Can’t we assume that he has a location? Why not?

Let’s say he does have a location with respect to the Earth, Sun, Moon, Andromeda Galaxy, and everything else. Here though the assumptions are open to further analysis. Superman allegedly possesses special abilities, like flying. Without these special abilities he is no longer Superman but just a man. How does he defy gravity in this way? How does he perform this magic trick? The proponent of any such theory will run into insurmountable problems.

A PRIORI PHYSICS

It must be reiterated that thus far no concept of belief, truth, proof, evidence, knowledge, or fact has been incorporated. Only the intellect and not the sensory system has been wielded. The definitions for the terms “object” and “existence” are explicit assumptions whose objectively distinguishing characteristic is that they allow for the greatest possible clarity and consistency. In addition they are understood to be observer independent. Whether or not they’re “true” or “correct” is a matter of subjective opinion.

Belief, truth, proof, evidence, knowledge, and fact as illustrated earlier arise as concepts due to the uncrossable gap between our immediate experience generated by neural activity and “external” existence. We are ultimately ignorant about observer independent existence and these concepts serve to communicate degrees of certainty, i.e., our opinion based on sensory inputs.

Thus the physical sciences are a priori in the sense that theories are based on explicit assumptions asserted and analyzed prior to a single shred of evidence.

A theory being irrational means that the intellect cannot grasp it or that it is left open to broad interpretation. It is unintelligible, incoherent, inconceivable, unimaginable. It is impossible to wonder whether something incoherent is true or false or whether there’s evidence for it.

If I said “blarg exists” would your first reaction be to wonder whether it’s true, or whether you believe it, or whether there’s evidence for it? No! You’d ask me what “blarg” means. Meaning and understanding always precede any truth considerations because otherwise there’s no intelligible claim to assess in the first place!

If someone wants to say that the concepts of belief, truth, proof, evidence for, knowledge, or fact are objective they simply need to define these terms such that they can be used consistently. Define truth such that it can distinguish in a black and white manner that which does or does not qualify as truth in every conceivable circumstance. It’s impossible. This is precisely why philosophers have debated the nature of truth for thousands of years and continue to do so! And when someone does attempt to define one of these terms they unavoidably end up merely invoking the others in a web of circularity.

CONSCIOUSNESS

Perhaps the devil’s advocate will question how the definition of existence can preclude anything perceived within consciousness. After all it feels more “real” than anything else. How can one say that one’s consciousness doesn’t exist? You are directly aware of it of course it exists!

The devil’s advocate simply needs to define the term “existence” and “consciousness” in order to reach such a conclusion. How else would one determine whether consciousness qualifies? The purpose of a scientific definition is to narrow the usage of a term down to a single interpretation, i.e., to the point where everyone understands the same thing. Failing to do so inevitably means that the devil’s advocate will use the term existence to refer to many different concepts simultaneously. This is precisely how people end up going in circles forever while debating these issues. Without any narrowing of the usage it is unavoidable that everyone in the debate will be understanding things differently, miscommunicating, and chasing their tails.

Consciousness refers to neural activity in the brain. Only objects having location exist, the motion of those objects does not itself exist since motion is not an object. Therefore consciousness does not exist in the strict scientific sense of the term in which it has been defined above. If one tries to conceptualize consciousness as being some kind of “mental existence” you’ll run into irrational assertions like a soul or spirit. It won’t be possible to understand the meaning of it.

That being said I do find difficulty in understanding how it is that our sense of subjective experience arises via surface to surface contact between objects in the brain. The question of how the material world gives rise to experience of course has always been a huge question for philosophers, I don’t pretend to have an answer. It may be that sheer complexity prevents any such full understanding. Perhaps it’s one of life’s unanswerable mysteries.

At any rate full service to these issues would deserve an entire article on its own. Ultimately what is crucially important is that one can consistently distinguish the concept of existence in science. We are clearly talking about an existence which is independent of any living entity’s perception.

A POSTERIORI

The empiricist may try to argue that science cannot be “a priori.” When we were born it was all sensory data that informed us about the world. Everything roots back to empiricism. Alternatively they may say that the evolution of life in general began with sensory data. The intellect evolved secondarily and was only ever informed by it.

How the present situation came to be is irrelevant for this discussion. Once the ability of the intellect to conceive of the unlimited possibilities has been established it is no longer bound by the limitations of the sensory organs.

Still the empiricist may insist that shape and location, etc., were qualities ultimately informed to us by the senses even if we can conceive in an unlimited manner within that framework. Nature may be incomprehensible to us and science must be equipped to deal with that. We can’t arbitrarily confine ourselves to what the intellect can or cannot understand.

INCOMPREHENSIBLE NATURE

The proponents of Modern Physics will insist that Mother Nature is just too weird to understand in any way that we’re used to. Any time you suggest that their theories are nonsensical this is the immediate response you’ll receive. In Quantum especially they are fond of saying that us apes evolved here on the macroscopic scale and so we can’t expect our puny primate brains to understand in any normal sense what goes on at the atomic or subatomic scale. Every single documentary on Quantum prefaces itself by reminding you of this to prepare you for the insanity that you are about to witness.

The problem here is that even if it is the case that Mother Nature is beyond our puny understanding it does not help relieve our ignorance at all to try to fill that void with irrational theories which also cannot be understood. The proponents of Modern Physics are effectively making a sort of God of the Gaps argument. We can’t comprehend nature so we must propose theories which we also can’t comprehend. When they propose these incoherent explanations however we learn nothing. We may as well go back to traditional religion.

They claim that while it’s not intuitive with years of study of the equations you can gain some kind of “fuzzy” understanding which cannot be communicated clearly to the uninitiated. They have to speak in vague analogies. Only the experts can get some kind of grasp on it and us poor schmucks have to just take them on faith. But it’s “reasonable faith” because Modern Physics can make predictions with the mathematics. Of course the equations still have to be physically interpreted no matter what since they just represent relations between quantities, i.e., numbers. The mathematical physicist wants to deflect being questioned on what they mean by “object” or “exist” by claiming that their understanding of those terms is hidden in the math somewhere.

MATHEMATICS

Mathematics is not the language of physics. Equations do not explain anything, they are purely descriptive. A description of what is measured or observed does not explain the underlying physical phenomena behind what was measured or observed. To be clear, I am not disputing that the equations of mathematical physics can make very accurate predictions. For further arguments on predictions or how technology is developed please see the article mentioned at the beginning.

Equations absolutely depend upon an observer since the variables in the equations represent physical quantities which can be ascertained through empirical investigation. Quantities, i.e., numbers, have to be interpreted, as do entire equations. Take velocity for example.

motion of thigns

If all you are given is “100 feet per second” you have no idea what the quantity is referencing physically. It could be the motion of a particle, the propagation of a wave, the torsion along a twisted rope, or something else.

All quantities in physics without exception are just numbers that need to be interpreted physically. A quantity by itself does not dictate what objects are involved. More often than not a quantity is a relation between a unit of measurement and that which is being measured. Sometimes they are dimensionless. Either way without a physical interpretation a quantity is just a meaningless number.

Since all quantities need to be interpreted and all equations are comprised of relations between quantities it follows that all equations need to be interpreted as well. Equations by themselves also cannot dictate what objects are involved in reality. They can be formulated from experience without having any understanding of the underlying physical phenomena. An equation is really just an advanced form of pattern recognition.

A classic example of a physicist distinguishing between an equation and an explanation was Newton and his Law of Gravitation. When Newton published it he reiterated multiple times that he did not have a physical explanation for gravity. He was able to discover an equation which described the motion of objects under the influence of gravity and which could make very accurate predictions even though he had no understanding whatsoever of the mechanism underlying gravitational attraction.

newton-universal-gravitation

In the equation force is a quantity, big G is a quantity, mass is a quantity, distance is a quantity. The equation tells you how these measured quantities vary with respect to one another and is capable of making very accurate predictions about the observed motion of celestial bodies or bodies falling towards the Earth. Yet the equation in no way acts as some kind of blueprint detailing what is happening in reality that causes these behaviors. It simply relates measured quantities.

All equations in physics deal strictly with quantities which can be ascertained by an observer, i.e., through some kind of empirical means, they say nothing directly about objects or existence. Equations are part of the evidence. All physical interpretations which attempt to explain equations deal strictly with objects and existence.  

The proponent of mathematical physics cannot attempt to block criticism of their physical interpretations by asserting that the real meaning of their claims about objects or existence is somehow contained in the mathematics. They absolutely must define these critical terms clearly if their claims are to be understandable at all.

The focus of the CSM on prediction has led empiricists to see equations as the core of physics. That’s where the rubber meets the road because that’s how Mother Nature tells us about Herself. Yet equations do not automatically convey any understanding about objects or causes. Modern Physics has taken the precedence of mathematics to such an extreme that they treat abstract mathematical concepts as if they are real things. Physical interpretations however have been relegated to “philosophy” and are considered to have little to no importance.

OBJECT VS CONCEPTS

It’s important to distinguish objects from concepts in order to avoid the fallacy of reification. An object has shape and thus can be visualized or illustrated. This applies whether it’s a real standalone entity like the Moon or an abstract object (point, line, square, circle, Superman, unicorns, etc.). Whether it’s real, or visualized within the mind, if a term resolves to something that has shape and can be illustrated then it’s referring to an object.

Concepts however do not have shape and always invoke two or more objects. Concepts can also become “nested” by relating other concepts which themselves invoke objects. These are abstract concepts and they can continue to become more and more nested into a hierarchy in an unlimited fashion. As a result concepts cannot be visualized like objects can, they can only be defined and understood.

All terms in a language can be categorized according to whether they resolve to an object or a concept. Whereas concepts are defined and understood objects are visualized and named.

REIFICATION

The fallacy of reification, also known as the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, is the central problem with mathematical physics. Highly abstract mathematical concepts such as warped spacetime, black holes, wormholes, singularities, big bangs, wave packets, zero dimensional particles, higher dimensions, forces, fields, charges, energy, etc., are clearly not objects as they cannot be illustrated. They have no shape or location. As such they cannot be said to exist or perform actions.

Take the field concept. According to wiki,

In physics, a field is a physical quantity that has a value for each point in space and time.

If I measure around a magnet and record the readings at each location I have a field: it’s a list of measured quantities at each location or a function that represents the same thing. Of course this does not tell me what objects are interacting with my instrument (object) to produce the readings. It simply tells me what readings I got, it’s a description of what I observed. Mathematical physicists have taken this abstract concept and converted it into an “object” which exists and is capable of influencing other objects such as iron shavings. They have reified the concept. Of course it’s irrational to say that the iron shavings were moved by the “list of measured quantities at each location” or by a function.

This type of sleight of hand serves as the entire foundation of mathematical physics. Their “objects” are always abstract mathematical concepts which they turn around and treat as though they were objects with shape and location capable of performing activities and influencing other objects. As it is clearly impossible to illustrate an abstract mathematical concept the images below are the reified versions which in no way are meant to be taken literally.

reification

As far as Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and String Theory go every single illustration in every physics textbook, every animation in every physics video, every drawing on every board in every physics lecture, out of all of them not one is meant to be taken literally as an illustration of the shape of the object. This isn’t a matter of them having to simplify the drawing — these images in no way represent the shape of any object because they are figurative illustrations of abstract concepts. Even the illustrated particles cannot be taken literally to represent little beads of matter — they have been reified from zero dimensional abstractions!

Modern Physics is all smoke and mirrors. The endless slew of drawings and animations gives everyone the distinct impression that objects are being discussed and used in theories when in fact they are not. Mathematical physicists not only draw images but talk about math concepts like they are objects with shape — “the field vibrated,” “the field had an excitation,” “the spacetime warped/curved/bent/expanded/pushed,” “the time dilated,” “the charge experienced a force in the field,” “the particle carried the force,” etc.

Despite it being mathematical physics its practitioners absolutely cannot avoid invoking objects and existence in their presentations. You cannot do physics without objects. Even if they only use objects figuratively they still have to imply that objects have shape or else it would become instantly obvious to them and everyone else that their explanations are irrational! Here let me show you, I’ve captured some photos of the real “objects” they use:

mysterious entities3

The physical sciences are all about visualization. It’s unavoidable. If one cannot conceive of the objects of a theory then one cannot conceive of the explanation and we learn nothing. This is why everyone thinks mathematical physics is so hard to understand — because it’s impossible to understand. The mathematical physicists themselves can’t understand it. If they ever had to define the key terms “object” and “existence” such that they can be used consistently the entire house of cards would come crumbling down in an instant.

PARTS AND WHOLES

One common objection to the definition of “object” is the confusion surrounding parts and wholes. A forest is made up of trees but those trees are made of cells which are made of atoms and so on. The devil’s advocate might argue that a forest is a concept because it invokes two or more objects.

One has to be strict with definitions but loose with context. If I am presenting a theory and I say “the forest caught on fire” the audience is considering the forest to be a single object for the purpose of understanding my presentation. A forest has shape and thus qualifies as an object. If I start talking about the individual trees then I’ve simply switched contexts. Now the audience considers the tree to be made of a single piece.

Collections of objects are objects (a pile of sand, the atmosphere, a galaxy, etc.) because they have shape. They are bounded and do not blend with their immediate background. One just has to maintain context. When I point to a galaxy and say “Andromeda” I am treating it as a single object.

Parts of objects are also objects. My hand is part of my body and my palm part of my hand. All of them have shape. Once again we just need to be aware of the context.

DEFINITIONS

I’ve already provided some definitions and outlined the reasoning behind them but I would like to delve into these issues in more detail. As stated above, rationality hinges upon clarity and consistency. A scientific definition is one which limits the usage of a term down to a single possible interpretation. This stands in stark contrast to the manner in which definitions are typically conceived.

In science it is imperative that you define your key terms clearly so that your audience knows what you mean. Otherwise everyone will walk away with their own interpretation.

In my experience here are some typical criteria proposed for determining the “correct” definition:

  1. It’s in a dictionary
  2. Common usage
  3. Experimentally determined
  4. Authorities say so
  5. Agreement
  6. Listing examples

 

Let me detail each of these individually.

  1. Dictionaries only serve to document the common usages of terms. Dictionaries are not meant to convey scientific definitions. There is no focus on maximizing precision but instead on outlining how people typically use the word. This explains why almost all terms in a dictionary have multiple definitions. Dictionaries also make routine use of synonyms and circularity. Someone who just wants to reference a dictionary is trying to shift the burden onto you to determine which definition they mean and how they are using it. This leaves the door wide open so they can shift their arguments later on or accuse you of strawmanning.
  2. There is a distinct difference between scientific language and everyday speech. Once again someone who says “use the meaning that everyone does!” is just trying to shift the burden onto you to figure out what they mean. The same word can be used in many different ways in colloquial speech and there is very little chance that it is typically used with scientific precision.
  3. As was dealt with in detail above scientific definitions cannot be determined through an experiment because they must be critically reasoned prior to the evidence. Any experiment would itself have to be explainable with a theory which utilizes predefined scientific terms.
  4. There are no authorities in science, this cannot possibly act as an objective criterion.
  5. People may agree to a definition but in no way does this guarantee that the definition will be scientific. The meaning of the term could still be very vague and used in many different ways. Those who agreed to such a definition are bound to miscommunicate and chase their tails.
  6. Sometimes an individual claims that all they have to do is list some examples of what qualifies under their term and that is sufficient. They won’t even try to define at all. They expect you to abstract away the meaning that they intended from the examples they provided. Once again this shifts the burden onto you and leaves the door open for them to amend their arguments later on or accuse you of strawmanning. Usually their examples include things which embody different usages of the term in question. This is also the prime means by which people typically defend terms such as truth or fact. They will list what appear to be very obvious examples and consider the debate settled. What they cannot do is outline specifically what is meant by those terms in order to distinguish that which does or does not qualify in every conceivable circumstance.

 

Now that I’ve addressed some common criteria for definitions I’d like to expand upon the consistency requirement. In order for a definition to be used consistently it must satisfy four criteria, all of which are related. A definition must be unambiguous, non-contradictory, non-synonymous, and non-circular.

NON-CONTRADICTORY

The definition cannot contradict itself. If it does then there is no possible way to understand what it means or use it consistently. For example we can’t have any zero dimensional objects or square circles.

NON-CIRCULAR

A definition cannot use the term being defined. It also cannot form a chain of circularity. For example if the definition of term A uses term B, then term B uses C, and then C uses A you have circularity. Doing any of these fails to narrow the usage at all and leaves the term open to broad interpretation.

For example we can’t say that a line is a row of points and then say that a point is the intersection of two lines. Likewise we can’t say a field is made of particles and a particle is just an excitation of a field.

NON-SYNONYMOUS

A definition cannot simply point to another undefined term. Once again this does not narrow the usage at all or convey any specific meaning. A common example would be to say that “existence” means “to be” or “real.” These do not narrow the usage of the term “existence” at all and as such it’s left open to broad interpretation.

UNAMBIGUOUS

If the definition satisfies the other three there’s still a chance that it could be left open to interpretation. The other three are flagrant fouls, ambiguity is more subtle. A definition must be crisp and clear. This means the definition must be able to clearly distinguish in a black and white manner that which does or does not qualify. But how is such a determination made? Oftentimes we have to engage in Rational Discourse.

RATIONAL DISCOURSE: “TESTING” A DEFINITION

Oftentimes someone will employ this process on their own until they’re ready to unveil their definition to a broader audience. They will define a term and then try to think of as many examples as possible in order to see if they can easily determine whether the example qualifies or doesn’t qualify under the definition. If they discover a counterexample which cannot easily be placed in either camp then they go back to the drawing board and attempt to refine the definition. They are “testing” the definition against examples.

Once they are satisfied they engage their peers with the definition and challenge them to find a hole in it. This process is crucial to Rational Discourse. Others will then run through examples and try to find one that exposes an ambiguity in the definition. Alternatively if there’s something they don’t understand about the definition they will ask the definer to clarify.

Once the definition has been thoroughly vetted it stands as is until someone can come along and expose a flaw. At this point the definition should be clear and everyone should be able to understand and apply it consistently.

“WORD GAMES”/”SEMANTICS”/”PHILOSOPHY”

If you ask someone to define their key terms and also “test” the ability of those definitions to be used consistently by trying to produce counterexamples the person might say you’re engaging in “semantics” or “word games” or “philosophy.” They are not used to Rational Discourse and are fully unprepared to be challenged. As a way to deflect the onus of defining key terms they wish to insinuate that the challenger is some kind of word jester delving into irrelevant issues.

There are two different notions at work here. On one hand the accuser is relying on the fact that ultimately a particular word, i.e., noise or combination of letters, is arbitrary. They are implying that your disputation revolves solely around not liking the particular label itself that they are using. This would indeed be word games as the choice of label has no bearing on intended meaning.

The definition associated with that label, however, is crucially important. In order to communicate with another human being that person needs to be able to understand what you are talking about. Otherwise you both will go in circles for all eternity. Rational Discourse is about exposing misunderstanding, about clarifying and refining.

Almost always the person who makes such an accusation is themselves the true word jester. They don’t define their terms, or define them very vaguely, they use them with extreme inconsistency, they leave it up to their audience to determine what they mean, they switch contexts without warning, they dig their heels in when asked to define or clarify, and they all around engage in evasive tactics to hamper any Rational Discourse.

“REDEFINING”

The devil’s advocate might say you’re just “redefining” a word. They typically mean that you are using a different definition than one which might be used according to the six unscientific criteria I listed above. They are insinuating that the definition has already somehow been settled and you are just making things up completely out of the blue.

To avoid confusion it’s best to associate a scientific definition with the term it’s most closely related to in everyday speech. You probably shouldn’t define “object” as “the unbounded formless void” just because you can. Beyond that however there is no “redefining” there is only defining. You start with a term and you narrow its usage with a definition.

A LANGUAGE OF CIRCULARITY?

The devil’s advocate will argue that all terms are defined with other terms. While the circularity may not be so obvious because of the number of hops required eventually all words in a language form a web of relations in which they are all codependent. There is no way to avoid circularity.

Of course this would be impossible because there would be no first point of meaning. If everything was circular, regardless of the number of hops in between, every word would still be meaningless.

This is where objects and visualization come in. Visualization allows you to break out of the circularity. An object is not defined, an object is visualized. Yes the term “object” has to be defined categorically, but objects themselves are visualized. Objects precede all definitions and form the basis of meaning. We don’t need to define all terms with other terms, we just need to make sure that the concepts being deployed ultimately root back to relations between objects in a clear manner.

INFINITE REGRESS

The devil’s advocate will now make a similar argument and claim that one could endlessly ask what something means, and once given the definition, ask what the terms in that definition mean, and so on and so forth. As per the previous section once we reach objects they are not defined but visualized. It makes no sense to point at an object and ask, “what does this mean?” It just is and you visualize it. It cannot be reduced any further.

That’s not the only form of infinite regress however. Oftentimes inquiring too far about how something works can can get you accused of asking “why” or “how” to an unreasonable extent. They’ll say at some point we have to accept that we won’t be able to understand any further.

Proponents of Modern Physics will often levy the infinite regress accusation when they are questioned. Here’s a video they love to post of famous physicist Richard Feynman using this line of thinking to deflect a basic question about how it is that magnets attract:

Once again we terminate at the object level. Once the theorist has provided their fundamental objects we can go no further. Objects themselves cannot be explained, they are the ultimate given. So long as the mathematical physicist speaks in terms of abstract mathematical concepts like “forces” it’s perfectly fair to ask them endless questions. Feynman clearly has no clue why magnets attract. He’s trying to insinuate that it’s some kind of incomprehensible mystery to some extent which we just have to accept rather than being a matter of his own lack of understanding.

There is one last notion of infinite regress that I can identify which is also related to the others. Once we hit the object level someone may be tempted to ask what the object is made out of. It’s a sort of metaphysical question, a question about the ultimate nature of “reality itself.” What is it that actually fills the shape out? What is the substance, what is the matter?

It is impossible however to reduce any further. Shape is the only inherent quality of an object. In what form could the answer to such a question ever arrive? Inevitably any such answer will always be a concept which itself will be able to be reduced to relations between objects.

DEFINITION COMPETITION

At the end of all this the unrelenting devil’s advocate may argue that such lofty requirements of definitions are tantamount to demanding perfection. There is no such thing as absolute consistency or the complete elimination of the possibility of miscommunication. Single interpretation precision is impossible.

Of course “perfection” and “absolute” are opinionated terms. It’s arguable that there’s always some degree of ambiguity or potential for miscommunication no matter how slight. The point of Rational Discourse and scientific definitions however is to bring about as much clarity and consistency as is humanly possible even if it’s not “perfect.”

Typically the devil’s advocate makes this argument because they want to go right back to vague definitions and inconsistency. They want to pretend that precision is an unrealizable ideal and as such they are not required to clearly define their terms. Regardless of whether “perfect” precision is possible the devil’s advocate has to compete with the other definitions that are out there for title of most clear and consistent.

As explained earlier an object lies in stark contrast to its immediate background, they are of clear and radically separate natures. Definitions for concepts which don’t clearly root back to objects will always lose in the competition as multiple possible interpretations will be able to be exposed.

TO RECAP

The visualization approach accomplishes the following:

  1. Provides a basis for clear understanding of an explanation for a consummated event
  2. Is the most objective possible form of communication (any miscommunication can be ironed out)
  3. Allows for terms like “object” and “existence” to be defined in an observer independent manner
  4. Allows one to break out of circularity and infinite regress
  5. Allows for the consistent formulation of definitions and usage of key terms
  6. Allows for the exclusion of opinionated concepts like belief, truth, proof, evidence, knowledge, and fact

 

THE RATIONAL SCIENTIFIC METHOD

hyptheoronc

The RSM is broken down into three distinct steps — Hypothesis, Theory, and Conclusion.

In the CSM hypotheses can become theories if enough experts raise their hands and decide that there’s enough evidence. There’s no objective threshold which distinguishes them, the opinionated matter has no choice but to come down to a vote. If the experts decide that they have even more confidence in a theory then it can be converted into a fact.

In the RSM hypotheses and theories are distinct stages of the method not separate classes of proposals altogether. Hypotheses and theories are eternally separate, hypotheses never become theories. The difference between them is objective. You don’t need to look at “scientific” consensus to determine whether something is a hypothesis or a theory. Additionally, theories never become facts. As stated earlier — belief, truth, proof, evidence, knowledge, fact, and prediction are not formally incorporated into the RSM.

These are the three stages that one must traverse in order to critically reason and present a rational theory. As mentioned earlier, of course evidence will influence how one develops a theory. However when it comes time to engage in the scientific method and present the theory it must be built from the ground up. And nowhere in the RSM is there any provision for evidence whatsoever.

The conclusion is predicated on the theory, the theory is predicated on the hypothesis. Without Hypothesis there can be no Theory, without Theory there can be no Conclusion.

To put it in the most succinct possible manner the RSM is a movie. The hypothesis is the first frame. The theory is the rest of the reel. The conclusion is where you determine whether or not it is rational.

HYPOTHESIS

  1. Exhibits (objects)
  2. Definitions for Key Terms
  3. Statement of the Facts (paint the initial scene)

 

First the theorist presents to his audience the objects of his hypothesis. Since we have already reasoned that all objects have shape as their only inherent quality he must illustrate those objects. He can also bring in 3D models.

Given that oftentimes the subject matter will be complicated he can simplify the drawings/models if need be. If we’re presenting the Rope Hypothesis version of the atom, for example, we don’t need to try to draw every rope as obviously that would be impossible.

Second he asserts the definitions for his key terms, the ones that will make or break his theory. The definitions must be clear and able to be used consistently.

Third he demonstrates the statement of the facts. He paints the initial scene of the movie by illustrating how the objects of his exhibits are arranged with respect to one another. To be clear this is his statement of the facts, they are not facts in an of themselves. These are assumptions he is making about how things really were in reality.

THEORY

  1. Present a movie of the behavior of the objects
  2. Explain the behavior

 

First the theorist presents a movie of the behavior of the objects. Whereas the hypothesis is a static freeze frame the theory is dynamic. This is the objective difference between hypotheses and theories.

Second he explains the behavior of the objects. The behavior should follow from the shape of the objects so everyone can understand why the objects do what they do.

CONCLUSION

Each member of the audience decides whether the theory is rational. Rational Discourse regarding the theory can help break down the definitions, analyze the objects, and discuss their behavior. The theory is either rational or irrational.

RATIONALITY REQUIREMENTS

There are four requirements for the theory to be rational:

  1. The objects must be able to be illustrated (at least in simplified form)
  2. The key terms must be defined such that they can be used consistently (and must actually be used consistently)
  3. Every process referenced in the theory must be associated with a movie that is not missing any frames (at least in simplified form)
  4. The behavior of the objects must be able to be understood as following from their shape

The first three are pretty straight forward. The last one requires elaboration. If the objects of your theory behave in random, sporadic ways for no identifiable reason then we are left with no understandable explanation for a phenomenon. The behavior should be able to be understood as resulting from the shape of the objects. This would exclude things like action at a distance. One particle cannot act on another without coming into contact with it or without some kind of physical intermediary.

SCIENCE

Once again the empiricist may be tempted to say that the above requirements are arbitrary. How can we demand that nature follow our rules?

We can’t and we are not! We are attempting to achieve a rational understanding of nature. These are the elements that are absolutely required in order to accomplish that. Once we have a rational theory we can finally say that we have an understanding of one possibility. Mother Nature may not care about what the apes demand of Her. She may be incomprehensible to us. However without these criteria being satisfied the ape will inevitably be left in a state of confusion and ignorance. It does not help this situation to flaunt the requirements by trying to supplant our ignorance with incomprehensible theories which we also cannot understand. And no amount of empirical investigation or evidence gathering can ever change that because at some point we have to hypothesize, theorize, and conclude.

This is the essence of science, rational explanations! This is how we distinguish the scientific from the unscientific. It’s not through belief, truth, proof, evidence, knowledge, fact, or any other subjective criteria, it’s by using our intellects, critical reasoning skills, and rational understanding.

VISUALIZATION

Visualization is the universal human language. It’s a capacity which we all possess within our intellects. It allows for understanding and, between humans, for the possibility of objective communication. Any confusions can be elucidated and driven out to the greatest extent possible.

Every individual is in a position to “verify” that the theory is rational for themselves, there is no need to depend upon external authority. Whether the objects can be visualized, the concepts understood, the key terms used consistently, etc., is determined within the individual using a common human capacity.

An analogy to bitcoin could be made. Each individual node has the entire block chain and can verify it. It’s a trustless system. Likewise each person in science has the entire picture and can understand it. The RSM is the trustless system of science. We don’t need to take the experts on faith and we don’t need to trust that they haven’t manipulated the data. Authority and faith cannot possibly survive.

Visualization is so central to the RSM that it helps define the method itself. It’s what allows for the objective delineation between Hypothesis and Theory as the concept of motion is predicated on objects. Unlike the CSM where the difference boils down to opinion, once again in the RSM there is no need to ask the experts what stage of the Scientific Method we are discussing.

And with objects as the core an entire set of definitions can be teased out through critical thinking. Some are alarmed at how proponents of the RSM insist on the same set of definitions. They view it as a sort of dogma all its own. Yet the definitions are not arbitrary. They are rooted in objects and can be used consistently. They constitute THE scientific definitions of Physics. Anyone is free in Rational Discourse to expose flaws or produce a competing set of their own. Proponents of the RSM did not invent visualization, this is open source software that could very well run on intellects around the Universe!

But the devil’s advocate will claim that visualization is not universal. What about people who were born blind? Are they barred from science?

Here is a painter who was born blind. He ascertains the form of objects through touch. They even bring him to a historic building in Florence whose complex geometry makes the perspective extremely difficult to draw even if you can see. After feeling the building and also a model of it he is able to draw the perspective correctly. Even without sight he can understand the concept of boundedness, the inside from the outside, the object with shape and the unbounded space that it has as its background. I guarantee he could do physics!

THE CSM

The CSM is very practical. When I criticize it I don’t mean to say we should never engage in it. Experimentation and pattern recognition are extremely useful for various ends such as the development of new technologies. The RSM on the other hand does not necessarily have any practical purpose at all. It’s simply a formal means of proposing explanations for phenomena.

While the CSM can be very useful it can also be dangerous. The focus on data, statistics, correlations, and mathematical modeling leaves a great deal of room for confirmation bias, data dredging, and deceit. One website tracks how often papers are retracted for various reasons including deliberate manipulation of data and fraud.

The focus on data and mathematics is very useful for those who want to use the label of science to push an agenda, such as governments or government connected corporations. Even absent these corrupting influences we have to remember that scientists are people too — the temptation to use peer review as a system of control to ostracize dissenters and protect cherished and entrenched theories no matter how flawed they are is huge. There is no formal conspiracy required, one just has to look at the incentives at work.

The type of environment that has been created out of this is one of group think and ridicule. The notion that science is an open affair where all ideas are considered and where the CSM “keeps them honest” despite all the flaws of humans beings is extremely naive. What we have are witch hunts where dissenters are labeled “denialists!” and where so called “skeptics” are no more than gatekeepers for entrenched theories. Their only claim to skepticism is when it is applied in extreme fashion towards anyone who promotes an alternative theory.

In the RSM there is no acceptance or denial. Skepticism, if it means anything, is automatic within the RSM as there is no provision for belief. The RSM is the perfect synthesis of open mindedness and exclusion — one can simultaneously consider many alternative explanations for the same evidence, there is no dogmatic proven truth, and yet there is still a narrowing process because the intellect is used to eliminate irrational theories.

The RSM can act as a bulwark against the negative effects of the CSM and help to make us more impervious to those, especially in governments, who would want to use the label of science to enhance their power at the expense of our individual liberties.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Of course I don’t hold that everything in this article is perfect. It’s also not comprehensive — there’s much more that can be discussed. The goal is to introduce the RSM and get the conversation going. I’m sure you can pick holes in it. There’s always room for further analysis.

While the RSM formally identifies a consecutive and multi-stage process realistically Rational Discourse never ends. We constantly go back to the basics and reevaluate our assumptions. We find the tiniest nuances and bring them out in the open for discussion. Everything is tentative, we never really settle on anything completely. We narrow, we refine, we expose, we ponder. We illustrate, we define, we explain!

GLOSSARY

Angle – the pattern formed by two straight edges fused at one end of an object lying on a plane facing the observer

Assumption – a statement taken at face value for the purpose of understanding a theory

Concept – a term which invokes two objects or two locations of an object (relationship between objects or, nested concepts)

Conclusion – the stage of the Scientific Method where a theory is determined to be rational or irrational

Continuous – not having discrete parts, indivisible

Definition – a limitation placed on the utility of a word

Dimension – one of three mutually perpendicular directions in which an object may face (i.e., length, width, and height)

Distance – the spatial separation between the surfaces of two objects

Energy – the ability to do work

Edge – the attribute of an object that provides closure and distinguishes it from the background

Evidence – the body of observations, experiments, measurements, and equations (i.e., anything gleaned through the sensory system)

Existence – that with shape and location (object + location)

Force – one object’s push or pull upon another

Hypothesis – the stage of the Scientific Method where one provides the exhibits, definitions for key terms, and statement of the facts

Length – the continuous matter between two surfaces

Line – an elongated rectangle

Location – the set of static distances from one object to all others

Motion – two or more locations of an object

Object – that which has shape

Perpendicular – a pattern formed by two straight edges: one lying horizontal and the other standing vertical

Physics – the study of existing objects (typically dealing with fundamental and low level composite objects)

Physical – an adjective which qualifies an object as being three dimensional

Point – a small circular dot

Rational – describes any communication in which the key terms have been defined to the point where there is only a single possible interpretation for them (i.e., where everyone understands the same thing)

Science – the body of communication pertaining to the Scientific Method

Space – shapelessness (i.e. vacuum, emptiness, nothingness, formlessness, the void)

Theory – the stage of the Scientific Method where one illustrates the behavior of the objects in the hypothesis; an explanation of consummated events

Time – a comparison between two motions

Universe – all existing objects and space