woensdag 15 april 2009

The free will problem

First of all The question of 'free will' versus 'determinism' is one of the oldest and most complicated of philosophical problems.

It is said without free will there can be no morality, no right and wrong, no good and evil. All our behaviours would be pre-determined and we would have no creativity or choice. Free will is necessary for the notion of personal responsibility. If people do not have free will, then it is difficult to argue that they are personally and morally responsible for their actions. The problem of whether humans have free will or whether all our actions are pre-determined and our apparent free will is simply an illusion is profoundly important to humanity. It is the will that tell us whether we can determine our own future, and whether the concept of morality actually exists.

Taking for example a normal pack of playing cards consisting of 52 cards I place the Ace of Spades face down on the top of the pack. Since I am both necessarily connected to the Ace of Spades and have pre-determined knowledge of the exact card I can therefore be certain that if I turn the card from top of the pack it will be the Ace of Spades. So we see that while I have complete knowledge of the system then there is no chance or luck involved, it is all pre-determined.

Now placing these cards infront of someone who has no knowledge of the fact that the Ace of Spades is the top card. So while they are connected to the top card they do not have pre-determined knowledge, thus I ask the person to tell me which card is on top of the pack they only have one in a fifty two chance to guess it correctly. We see how chance exists when we do not have pre-determined knowledge even though we are still necessarily connected.

I think free will exists and realise that we are using chance to decide on the future of the universe, it is perhaps a balance of both free will and determinism. Thus taking for example a quote from Spinoza, both right and wrong when he writes 'There is no mind absolute or free will, but the mind is determined for willing this or that by a cause which is determined in its turn by another cause, and this one again by another, and so on to infinity.' (Spinoza, 1673) It might make sense but I cannot fully agree with it, because in the end I believe that free will is the reality, we chose what to do. Who determines what we do anyways, if you are religious is it then god?

Are the soft sciences harder than the hard sciences?

The two sciences 'hard' and 'soft' are both used when comparing in the fields of scholarship or academic research.

The "harder" sciences meaning is perceived as being more scientific, rigorous, or accurate. Characterized as relying on experimental, empircal, quantifiable data or the scientific method, and focusing on accuracy and objectivity. Hard science in other words is the physical sciences. Physics, chemistry, biology and geology are all forms of "hard" science.

The field of "soft" science is used to refer to a natural science, usually used in words and phrases if they imply dissaprovel or contempt. Implying that a particular natural science topic described as "soft" does not belong to the field of natural science. Soft science is the social science, including history, econmoics, ecology... (some info taken from wikipedia)

The main idea is that, the differences aside, the one thing that the soft and hard sciences have in common is that they both seek to answer questions using the scientific method. There is a little less scientific method in the softer sciences, but the scientific method is there. In fact, there is a lot of debate going on between the hard and the soft sciences. Scientists compete with one another to see whose style of science is the hardest.

Jared Diamond attempted to 'question the commonly held prejudice that the human sciences are somehow easier or less rigorous than their natural science cousins.' The case that he tries to confront is vague from what I have read from the exert, a bit too little information to relate to this subject. I still think hard science are real sciences eventhough soft science are harder to measure. Jared does have a point but do not fully agree with it, because maybe our lives are just one chemical reaction therefore by hard science we can influence our state of mind. Hard science is better in seeking truth, I mean you can't question math, there is basicly one truth in math for example 1+1=2. With soft sciences there can be different truths, since truths are ever changing.
What if hard science enter the realm of soft sciences by mapping out the chemicals that influence the brain?

dinsdag 31 maart 2009

What can we learn from the Jelly Belly experiment?

The Jelly Belly experiment which included 12 different flavours of Jelly Belly's gave us an insight on how well people's knowledge are on identifying different flavours. We had both independet variables which were in group A to have the test subject blind folded and given a Jelly Belly to taste and identify the flavour. Then we also had different test subjects in group B which were alloud to see the Jelly Belly's and taste them. From the results more people got the correct flavours in group B due to that they could see the color of the Jelly Belly which helped them justify the flavour. For example even before tasting the Jelly Belly and you see that the color is yellow you can already make a hasty generalization that it is going to be lemon. The same with the colors green which can be apple or pear, as to when you are blind folded you have a harder time identifying it because you might be stuck between two flavours and don't have the chance to see it to help you justify the flavour.

There were many factors involved including if prior knowledge of flavour influence taste. People in different cultures tend to eat different types of food so they might be better in identifying certain flavours which other cultures might not recognize and vice versa. Also people who eat allot of fruit will most likely get most of the Jelly Belly's correct since more than half are fruit flavours, their experience in the taste of fruits are better than people who don't eat fruits as often because they have not had the experience to taste different degrees of flavours for example in apple. A person who often eats apple can taste the difference between a good apple and a bad apple.

Other factors such as overhearing neighbours can influence their decision aswel as the Jelly Belly itself, for exmaple after eating a strong flavoured Jelly Belly like Cappucino can influence the taste of the next Jelly Belly which might be apple. Both flavours mix creating an odd flavour which may be hard to identify. Also to take into consideration is if the person has experience in eating Jelly Belly's which makes it allot more easier for them to identify the flavour. For example Pina Colada, people who havn't eaten Jelly Belly's before are very unlikely to get it correct because it is an unnusual taste, since it has both pineapple and coconut in it. This is also shown in the results that almost nobody got it correct. What we have learned from the experiment is that there are definetly allot of factors to be taken into consideration which also applies to most scientific experiments.

maandag 30 maart 2009

Will science one day solve everything?

This in a sense is really a loaded question. If science will solve everything that also must mean there is no more science to explore because we have found the ultimate formula to solve all problems? None the less this means that we humans have then dominated the universe because we know everything. But is this really realistic? My answer is no. I think science will always continue to evolve in the continues persuit of solving and discovering new things, and if science one day will solve everything I sure won't be there to see it happen. Perhaps it is not possible at all, every scientific invention leads to new problems. Take the example of the invention of nuclear bomb, it was used to create peace but instead it has gone to destroy the world metaphoricaly speaking. Also science cannot solve ethical and moral problems. Surely science can solve problems but not all, it is just a method which is being developed day by day, but does not give 100% result. Humans themselves have led to more problems and science is there to reverse it and vice versa.

What makes a psuedo-science psueudo?

Psuedo science is a world where everything is more or less confirmation bias, a science
where a theory is created and only after that evidence is looked for to back it up their belief. It is the opposite of science where a discovery is made and then tested followed by a theory. Psuedo in other words means fake or not real which explains why psuedo-science is psueodo because it is fake and is not supported with full evidence to prove it to make it a scientific. You can't question it because it is a belief that is simply their and does not need or support any evidence, which makes it fake.

Taking for example astrology, which tells you your horoscope based on the month you are born on. It is a group of systems, traditions, and beliefs which hold that the relative positions of planets and related details can provide useful information about personality, human affairs, and other terrestrial matters. At first astrology and astronomy were considered to be in the same category since both related to celestial beings, however in the 18th century
they were considered to be different. Astronomy distinguished itself as the scientific study of astronomical objects and their movement which involves mathematics and physics . As to where astrology became a belief where people believed that the movement and positions of the planets directly influence or corrospond to the life on Earth, simply too vague. This is just merely a belief and astrologers cannot give evidence to why the planets influence human life. This is why scientists have labeled astrology as a pseudo-science.

donderdag 22 januari 2009

Gut feeling decision making: how the world works.

Gut feeling decision making occurs in everyone and happens almost daily. We make gut feeling decisions all the time, whenever someone asks you to do a certain task or when you are doubting about what the correct answer is to a question you are making that decision based on your emotion. The gut feeling is not literaly from your guts of course but what you truely believe in. A gut feeling can even be decided within a fraction of a second for example on the battlefield. You are making that split moment decision and that can be the matter of life or death. We most of the time rely on this gut feeling, and it applies for everyone from football players to the president. If you think about it the world kind of works around this emotion. All those World Wars have most likely been based allot around gut feeling decision making. Where does gut feeling really come from though? It is really an emotion you feel the best for and is right according to yourself. You could say following your emotion leads to a gut feeling, those feelings are also based on emperical evidence. Basicly all the hardwired evidence and facts that you stored leads to your decision making. For example doing an exam with multiple choice my gut feeling was telling me that answer "B" is the right choice, eventhough I had little knowledge about it I still got the answer correct.

Is emotion a way knowing or an obstacle?

I think it is both, first of all emotion can definetly be an obstacle. You tend to follow your emotion which can lead to stress and unwanted feelings or the opposite, but then again this is emotion. Recently from my own experience when I got Tinnitus in the left ear (a ringing noise in the ear) I had trouble ignoring it and it emotionaly affected me. I searched the internet for cures but there are none yet developed, so it started to affect me more emotionaly knowing I might have to live with it and that it can decrease a persons quality of life. I then read an article on a forum saying that Tinnitus is also no more than an emotional obstacle. Imagine being born with Tinnitus, you would not be bothered by it since you are grown up with it and don't even know the meaning of silence. It is because we are used to silence the ringing noise in the ear leads to stress and emotionally making you feel bad because you want to hear silence again. But if you can ignore the emotion you feel towards the ringing noise in the ear you can also ignore the Tinnitus, which gradually may be a cure. Emotions tend to be obstacles because they tend to stop you from doing certain tasks or goals in life, as followed making you lazy to do things and not achieve much. On the otherhand emotion can strongly motivate you and not cause to be an obstacle, although likely there will be times where it does.

Partially emotion can also be a way of knowing but it depends to what extent. If it is a way of knowing then we are talking more about a gut feeling, this feeling leads to knowing whats best in certain circamstances. We then follow that path, but it does not neceserly have to be knowing in an empirical way. Because what is to "know" something, that really depends if it is a fact, and from emotion we cannot always produce pure facts. In the end emotion is who we are and what makes us unique.