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Frank Sinatra is not a poached egg


Davy_Jones
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Statement 1 (S1): Birds don't fly
Statement 2 (S2): Frank Sinatra is not a poached egg

Both these statements share one thing in common: they are both screamingly obvious; the difference being that S1 is obviously false (it is true that some birds don't fly, of course, but "[all] birds don't fly" is false) while S2 is obviously true.

Now, if the village idiot, or the village madman for that matter, were to tell you either of the statements above, you might smile politely, make some excuse about a dental appointment, and disappear fast.


On the other hand, however, were S1 or S2 advanced by the village genius, one might stop to wonder "Why is an intelligent person saying something that is so obviously false/true?"


This is the position I find myself in. During my brief time here, I have been told by various scientists (mainly physicists)--obviously intelligent and knowledgeable--that:

S3: Science (or physics) does not, or does not try to, describe reality
S4: The model is not the reality

As with S1 and S2, S3 is screamingly obviously false while S4 is screamingly obviously true, and yours truly is left wondering why these things are being said at all.


Here's what I think is going on, and I offer the following in the hope of attaining a little more clarity for us all in these discussions.


Now, whether you've read Immanuel Kant or not (I haven't), it's likely that we've all been influenced by his thought to some degree or other. Great ideas, whether right or wrong, tend to trickle down from the heights of the ivory tower to the grass roots far below.


Kant, in his attempt to refute the skepticism (roughly, "Sorry! We can't know anything") that traditional empiricism (Locke, Berkeley, Hume, et al) implies, offers us a bifurcation of reality into two realms: the phenomenal and the noumenal.


The former is the realm of appearances; accessible to us, and of which we can have knowledge. The latter, though real, is utterly inaccessible to us; we can have no knowledge of the noumenon. The noumenal realm, we are told, is where the dreaded ding an sich--the "thing in itself"--resides (cf. the fundamental nature of gravity, the essence of dark matter, dark energy, etc).


Kant's philosophy might be described as realism, though it's a realism of the most watery-thin kind; an Oliver Twist gruel realism.


At this point, one might pause and wonder "If we can know nothing about this supposed noumenal realm, Mr Kant, why bother with it at all? Why not just get rid of it?" Indeed, this was the path followed by subsequent thinkers, the idealists, and their close cousins, the phenomenalists. To these guys, appearances are all that exist.

 

Idealism, though enormously influential for a century or more, is now pretty much dead (Thank God!). What we might call commonsense realism once more holds sway. Yes, folks, that tree over there is real, really real, and it continues to exist even when no one is looking.

 

And what does all this have to do with science, you might well ask. What about S3 and S4?

We see something very similar to Kant's phenomenal-noumenal distinction in the scientific realism vs scientific antirealism scuffle. You may or may not be familiar with the terms, though you've almost certainly been influenced by the ideas. The difference, however, is that the distinction drawn, in the latter case, is usually framed as being between observable reality and unobservable reality.

Contra idealism, both sides agree that there exists an observable reality (not just appearances) and we can know things about it. Indeed, science (including physics, of course) is in the business of telling us about it, describing it for us, generating knowledge for us (contra S3). 


Where they parts ways is that a scientific realist will insist there also exists a mind-independent unobservable reality, moreover, we can, if not now at least in principle, know things about it. A sensible realist claim would be cautiously hedged, of course, after all, many scientific theories once thought true now lie on the scrapheap. Perhaps something like "Our best, most highly confirmed theories, in the mature sciences, are providing us with knowledge of unobservable reality".


The antirealist, meanwhile, depending who you ask, might tell you there is no unobservable reality (cf. "There is no quantum world" - Niels Bohr), or perhaps that it might exist but we can say nothing about it, or to ask such questions is meaningless, such questions are ill-defined, etc., etc.


As far as I'm able to discern--from reading, from internet resources, from discussions with working scientists in places like this-- antirealism is (far and away?) the predominant position in contemporary physics (though not other scientific disciplines), thanks to the overwhelming influence of Bohr, Heisenberg, Copenhagen et al.


I get the impression, though I have no personal experience in these things, that physicists--tacitly--are being educated (dare I say indoctrinated) to believe that this, i.e., antirealism, is the only way to construe such matters. Perhaps the physicists and other scientists out there might share their experiences. I'd be fascinated to hear.


Let it not be thought, though, that the quietus has been given to scientific realism, even in the crazy, wacky, seemingly incomprehensible domain of quantum mechanics.

There are always dissenting voices (Einstein, Weinberg, Bohm, multiple universes, etc.), eager to provide a more satisfying (as they see it) causal-explanatory realist account of what's going on behind the scenes. 


And these things do have a habit of coming and going in cycles. Scientific antirealism reigns for now, in physics at least . . .

Edited by Davy_Jones
typos and added a bit about idealism
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You seem to quote a lot of people.
Philosophers you obviously admire, and whose thinking you respect.

You also tend to put groups of people into different camps, like ( anti ) realists, ( contra ) idealists, etc.

I was wondering, do you you ever post what YOU think about these subjects ?
A scientist ( Physicist, as I like to pretend I am ), when asked will give you their opinion.
Sometimes those opinions even differ, or are totally opposite, other scientists.

But I assume you're human, just like the rest of us; surely you must have your own opinion without appealing to the authority of your (philosophical ) masters ?
Tell us what YOU think that cannonball 'really' and 'truly' is ...


edit
And welcome back
I thought you might have gotten upset and left us.

Edited by MigL
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34 minutes ago, MigL said:

But I assume you're human, just like the rest of us; surely you must have your own opinion without appealing to the authority of your (philosophical ) masters ?
Tell us what YOU think that cannonball 'really' and 'truly' is ...

I think the cannonball is real -- really real -- real even if no one is looking, its motion is real, and that physics describes this reality for us.

(Same as everyone else I've ever met . . . until a few days ago)

See the bit I added about idealism above. I just edited.

And how about you, sir?

 

34 minutes ago, MigL said:

You seem to quote a lot of people.

Yes, I keep a collection (sad loser that I am :) ) for occasions such as these.

My opinion tends not to carry much clout. People tend to pay more attention if Albert Einstein, say, can back me up LOL.

 

 

And why am I doing this, you ask? One reason is in the hope of providing some conceptual clarity.

For example, in the gravity thread, I posted this a while ago:

Quote

Lecture 16, "The Hunt for Gravitational Waves", 5:50 mins . . .
"Gone are the days of Newton's force of gravity. According to Einstein's equations, gravity is literally the bending of space"


This morning I enjoyed Lecture 22, "Measuring the Size and Age of the Universe". However, Prof Lincoln opens the lecture with this:


"In the last seven lessons we've covered a huge amount of cosmology. Hopefully you now know why Einstein claimed that gravity is caused by the bending and distortion of space and time."

 

I trust the problem is clear. A claim that "smoking causes lung cancer" is quite another matter from "smoking is lung cancer".
 

Edited by Davy_Jones
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If I'm having a discussion with you, your opinion is the one that matters.

As for the cannonball ...
It could most certainly be real, depending on your criteria for reality.
You must realize, while atoms have a discernible size, their constituent particles have none ( or very very little ).
That cannonball may seem solid to your touch, or the light it absorbs/reflects, yet it is almost 100% empty space.
What Physics does, is describe it according to Quantum Electrodynamic and Quantum Chromodynamic Field Theories.
These theories say the cannonball is simply quantum fields, a mathematical construct which assigns one or more values ( and or direction ) to every point in space, and where that field has an excitation greater than a quantum of action, a particle is manifest.
That is what Physics describes, very very accurately; is that reality, and true ?

We can also describe the trajectory, and the effects, of that cannonball.
To do so, we consider it to be a mass localized at a point; it has no spatial extent.
And using that mathematical model/description, we can land a man on the moon ( 1/4  million miles away ) and do fly-bys of the outer solar system planets ( sorry, I'd have to look up the distances ).
That is how Physics describes a trajectory, and obviously very very accurately; is that reality and true ?

Edited by MigL
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36 minutes ago, MigL said:

If I'm having a discussion with you, your opinion is the one that matters.

As for the cannonball ...
It could most certainly be real, depending on your criteria for reality.
You must realize, while atoms have a discernible size, their constituent particles have none ( or very very little ).

 This is Eddington and his celebrated "two tables" again. Perhaps you're familiar with it?

Do I think the table/cannonball is real? Yes. Don't you?

A description can also be given in terms of what's going on at the atomic or subatomic level: Two descriptions of one thing, if you like.

I believe the table is real enough (this is the commonsense realism alluded to in the OP). Given my own (scientific) antirealist proclivities, however, I'd be a bit hesitant of believing the behind-the-scenes description, fascinating though it may be. You might say I remain agnostic.

 

How about yourself?

 

36 minutes ago, MigL said:

We can also describe the trajectory, and the effects, of that cannonball.
To do so, we consider it to be a mass localized at a point, that has no spatial extent.
And using that mathematical model/description, we can land a man on the moon ( 1/4  million miles away ) and do fly-bys of the outer solar system planets ( sorry, I'd have to look up the distances ).
That is how Physics describes a trajectory, and obviously very very accurately; is that reality and true ?

I'd say obviously so, at least the observable part thereof.

The description/statement (of the observable trajectory) corresponds with the facts thus, on the standard understanding of truth (as TheVat has expatiated on), the description is true.

As for the behind-the-scenes bit . . . see above.

Edited by Davy_Jones
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3 hours ago, Davy_Jones said:

Both these statements share one thing in common: they are both screamingly obvious; the difference being that S1 is obviously false (it is true that some birds don't fly, of course, but "[all] birds don't fly" is false) while S2 is obviously true.

1) Please point me to a correct reference to the term "screamingly obvious" in Philosophy. Or even just 'obviously'.

2) Why is S2 obviously true ?

This morning, when I had my poached egg for breakfast I named it Frank Sinatra. Just as yesterday I named my egg Shirley Bassy and will probably name tomorrow's egg Annie Lennox.

 

Considering the length of your opening post, I would be very interested in your response to this recent post from another of our general philosopher members.

7 hours ago, WendyDarling said:

To me, logic doesn’t need 100 or more words per assertion.

 

:)

 

 

2 hours ago, MigL said:

You seem to quote a lot of people.
Philosophers you obviously admire, and whose thinking you respect.

You also tend to put groups of people into different camps, like ( anti ) realists, ( contra ) idealists, etc.

I was wondering, do you you ever post what YOU think about these subjects ?
A scientist ( Physicist, as I like to pretend I am ), when asked will give you their opinion.
Sometimes those opinions even differ, or are totally opposite, other scientists.

But I assume you're human, just like the rest of us; surely you must have your own opinion without appealing to the authority of your (philosophical ) masters ?
Tell us what YOU think that cannonball 'really' and 'truly' is ...


edit
And welcome back
I thought you might have gotten upset and left us.

A well thought out and rounded response.

+1

 

Edited by studiot
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12 minutes ago, studiot said:

2) Why is S2 obviously true ?

This morning, when I had my poached egg for breakfast I named it Frank Sinatra. Just as yesterday I named my egg Shirley Bassy and will probably name tomorrow's egg Annie Lennox.

This morning I've had Kant for breakfast. :) 

It was noumenal!

Brilliant.

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49 minutes ago, studiot said:

1) Please point me to a correct reference to the term "screamingly obvious" in Philosophy. Or even just 'obviously'.

2) Why is S2 obviously true ?

This morning, when I had my poached egg for breakfast I named it Frank Sinatra. Just as yesterday I named my egg Shirley Bassy and will probably name tomorrow's egg Annie Lennox.

 

1. As far as I'm aware "screamingly obvious" has no technical meaning in philosophy. I'm speaking everyday English.

2. Because I'm referring to Frank Sinatra, the American singer, now sadly deceased, and not your breakfast.

 

49 minutes ago, studiot said:

Considering the length of your opening post, I would be very interested in your response to this recent post from another of our general philosopher members.

 

:)

 Whether true or not ("logic doesn’t need 100 or more words per assertion"), I made more than one assertion. I'm pretty sure none of them exceeded 100 words.

Edited by Davy_Jones
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25 minutes ago, Davy_Jones said:

1. As far as I'm aware "screamingly obvious" has no technical meaning in philosophy. I'm speaking everyday English.

2. Because I'm referring to Frank Sinatra, the American singer, now sadly deceased, and not a poached egg.

Since you were speaking in Everyday English and not philosophical techspeak, how was I to know these things ?

 

FYI

We used to sell sweets in the Somerset Rural Music School tuckshop.
Some of these sweets comprised some sort of foamed jelly stuff made into shaped and multi coloured comestibles.
One type of these was called 'poached eggs'   -   (for 'obvious' reasons)

:)

30 minutes ago, joigus said:

It was noumenal!

Thanks for the new expression.

I had to look it up.

+1

Edited by studiot
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I have to confess, the individual you knew as Frank Sinatra was actually only a perfectly lifelike animatronic. The real Frank Sinatra I keep in the freezer. It is a poached egg afterall. Gifted singer, but not one for the heat.

 

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Dang! How about Deano then?

 

Q: How do you get a Dean Martin in your fridge?

A: You take Frank Sinatra out first.

 

 

Edit: But seriously, folks . . .

I think I kinda forgot to state the point at the end of the OP. And it is . . .

I suspect there may be some confusion between (what I'm calling) commonsense realism and scientific realism.

I suspect some people are afraid to use the words real and reality, even when talking about rocks and trees and cannonballs and American crooners, for fear of being laughed at, perhaps.

Idealism is dead as a dodo. It's perfectly respectable to say "That rock is real" -- mind-independently real -- nowadays. No one will laugh.

Edited by Davy_Jones
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Whether there is a reality or not, or even if it can be described adequately is a philosophical question which I don't have the 'tools' to answer. If you wanna have a go at it, be my guest, but keep in mind that Philosophy and terms it uses ( which you just admitted are different from everyday English ), like knowledge, realist, idealist, true, etc. are based on a belief system ( justified true belief ??? ) an opinion which can be neither proven or disproven, but serves mainly to 'exercise' the mind with mental gymnastics ( see how I tied that in to my post in that other thread, several days ago 🙂 ).

As far as Physics is concerned, I explained what our best, most accurate models describe, and it is certainly not reality, nor can you say it is true, or do you really think a cannonball is empty mathematical space, travelling as a dimensionless point ?

So, for the 37th time, and in the 3rd thread, and the 9th person to do so, describing reality is not the business of Physics.

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55 minutes ago, MigL said:

So, for the 37th time, and in the 3rd thread, and the 9th person to do so, describing reality is not the business of Physics.

If this claim is to be read normatively (i.e., "physics ought not to try to describe reality") then the question of its truth or falsity does not arise. It's your opinion and you're entitled to it. Normative claims are neither true nor false.


On the other hand, if this is advanced as a factual claim ("no physicist thinks it is the business of physics to at least try to describe reality"), then I'm afraid the claim is simply untrue.

Just to give one example (I could give more):


Surely you've heard of the famous Einstein-Bohr debates? What do you think they were arguing about?

Einstein was arguing precisely that it is the job of science to--at least try to--describe reality (both observable and unobservable). This is why he found Copenhagen antirealist orthodoxy so repugnant.

Even Bohr, the arch antirealist, would tell you, I daresay, that physics is describing reality alright, observable reality -- just don't ask about the stuff that goes on behind the scenes! i.e. We can describe for you very well what will happen if we conduct a double-slit experiment, say -- we'll tell you what will be observed. But as to what, if anything, is going on backstage . . . none of our business!
 

 

55 minutes ago, MigL said:

Whether there is a reality or not, or even if it can be described adequately is a philosophical question which I don't have the 'tools' to answer. If you wanna have a go at it, be my guest, but keep in mind that Philosophy and terms it uses ( which you just admitted are different from everyday English ), like knowledge, realist, idealist, true, etc. are based on a belief system ( justified true belief ??? ) an opinion which can be neither proven or disproven, but serves mainly to 'exercise' the mind with mental gymnastics ( see how I tied that in to my post in that other thread, several days ago 🙂 ).

It is true that realism and idealism can be considered philosophical jargon.

Truth and knowledge, however, are not. Philosophers use the words the same way everyone else does.

What philosophers do--starting with Socrates, at least--is perform conceptual analysis on these words. They test people's intuitions.

So how do they test these things? They ask native speakers

Who has the final word on all this? The language users themselves!

Edited by Davy_Jones
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27 minutes ago, MigL said:

So, for the 37th time, and in the 3rd thread, and the 9th person to do so, describing reality is not the business of Physics.

Be fair, we are discussing in a Philosophy thread.

17 minutes ago, Davy_Jones said:

It is true that realism and idealism can be considered philosophical jargon.

So the matter can finally be considered settled.

Phew!

 

18 minutes ago, Davy_Jones said:

truth and knowledge, however, are not. Philosophers use the words the same way everyone else does.

Really ?    (pun intended)

 

 

I have just posted this in another philosophy thread

20 minutes ago, studiot said:

And finally this statement which makes perfect sense, but contains no logic whatsoever, whether it is true or false

'She opened and then shut the green door.'

 

So beware false logic.

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Copenhagen is one of many INTERPRETATIONS of the probabilistic mathematics.
Neither N Bohr or A Einstein had a problem with the actual mathematical model.

There is also H Everett's 'many worlds' interpretation , using the same mathematical model; are you familiar with that ?
Are we to infer that there are an infinite number of realities which grow in number with every interaction capable of multiple outcomes ?
( in Copenhagen Erwin's cat is both dead and alive until an interaction opens the box; in Many Worlds, Erwin's cat is alive in one possible universe, and dead in another universe when the interaction opens the box )
 

Einstein and Bohr also argued ( they were actually close friends ) about action at a distance, superposition and entanglement, and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.
Their most famous exchange had Einstein declaring "God does not play dice with the universe"
To which Bohr replied "Yes he does, and sometimes he throws them where they cannot be seen"

Sometimes Philosophers pretend they can see the dice ...

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7 minutes ago, MigL said:

There is also H Everett's 'many worlds' interpretation , using the same mathematical model; are you familiar with that ?
Are we to infer that there are an infinite number of realities which grow in number with every interaction capable of multiple outcomes ?
( in Copenhagen Erwin's cat is both dead and alive until an interaction opens the box; in Many Worlds, Erwin's cat is alive in one possible universe, and dead in another universe when the interaction opens the box )

 Yes, the many worlds interpretation is an attempt to give QM a realist account.

Can we ever prove it? I don't see how. The fact remains, however, he is trying to describe unobservable reality.

 

"Are we to infer that there are an infinite number of realities which grow in number with every interaction capable of multiple outcomes ?"

That's what the man is saying. Do I believe it? No. Is he trying to describe reality? Yes.

 

 

Edit: MigL, try "Quantum Theory and the Flight from Realism" by Christopher Norris, if you're interested in these things. You'll love it! :)

Edited by Davy_Jones
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Thanks for the recommendation; I will look into it.

As for our discussion, I don't think he is trying to describe reality.
I would say the mathematical model, which is common to all interpretations, describes elements ( but not completely, and only where applicable ) of any posible, underlying reality.
The interpretation ( Copenhagen, many worlds, etc. ) are an attempt to convey the ideas of that probabilistic, mathematical model in common, everyday terms ( if superposition of states and multiple universes can be described as common oe everyday ).

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re above:

What the Danish mob are saying is "We have a formalism, it works splendidly, and that's all there is to it!"

Not everyone (e.g. Einstein, Bohm, many worlds, etc.) likes this kind of antirealistic approach. Science must do more . . . science must (try to) tell us the way things really are!

 

Edit: And what does "works splendidly' mean?

Ans: It describes observable reality very well.

Edited by Davy_Jones
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5 hours ago, studiot said:

Since you were speaking in Everyday English and not philosophical techspeak, how was I to know these things ?

 

 

Abduction,  possibly.   You observed Davy's linguistic action and then make an inference to the best explanation of what he means by poached egg and Frank Sinatra.   

 

Abductive reasoning (also called abduction,[1] abductive inference,[1] or retroduction[2]) is a form of logical inference formulated and advanced by American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce beginning in the last third of the 19th century. It starts with an observation or set of observations and then seeks the simplest and most likely conclusion from the observations. This process, unlike deductive reasoning, yields a plausible conclusion but does not positively verify it. Abductive conclusions are thus qualified as having a remnant of uncertainty or doubt, which is expressed in retreat terms such as "best available" or "most likely". One can understand abductive reasoning as inference to the best explanation,[3] although not all usages of the terms abduction and inference to the best explanation are exactly equivalent.[4][5]

5 hours ago, Davy_Jones said:

Well, go unscramble your thoughts.

Which came first, the Frank or the egg?   

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11 hours ago, Davy_Jones said:

As far as I'm able to discern--from reading, from internet resources, from discussions with working scientists in places like this-- antirealism is (far and away?) the predominant position in contemporary physics (though not other scientific disciplines), thanks to the overwhelming influence of Bohr, Heisenberg, Copenhagen et al.

I think physicists fall into two main groups: theoretical and experimental. It's easy to be a theoretical scientist because it costs nothing, all you need is a piece of paper or a blackboard, but rarely is a theoretical scientist successful, i.e. most theories end up in the trashcan. This is in contrast to experimental scientists. They work in laboratories (CERN, particle accelerators), performing experiments and find discoveries. Einstein did not get the Nobel Prize for his theoretical work. He got it for his explanation and formula for the photoelectric effect.

You may have a mistaken impression of scientists on the science websites, because online scientists mostly respond to posts from laymen coming up with new revolutionary theories. They have some "most liked" topics: black holes, dark matter, dark energy, and GUT. All these are topics for which there are no scientific answers as it is impossible or nearly impossible (for now or ever) to study these phenomena experimentally.

  

11 hours ago, Davy_Jones said:

To these guys, appearances are all that exist.

If you are looking at the Sun, a star or a distant galaxy, your eye, a scientist's telescope, has just absorbed photons. Billions+ of photons with properties: frequency and polarization. The more photons detected ("measured"), the better the image quality. How can you know... to be absolutely sure... the Sun, stars, distant galaxies really exist and are what you think they are? No one has flown there. No one has touched them. If they really exist and are what physicists think they are, no one will ever get to them because they will burn up any device.

Therefore in physics we have a division between direct measurements and indirect measurements.

https://www.google.com/search?q=indirect+measurement+physics

Edited by Sensei
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18 minutes ago, Davy_Jones said:

Not everyone (e.g. Einstein, Bohm, many worlds, etc.) likes this kind of antirealistic approach. Science must do more . . . science must (try to) tell us the way things really are!

In answer I can only offer a modified quote from a previous post ...

1 hour ago, MigL said:

Their most famous exchange had Einstein declaring "God does not play dice with the universe"
To which Bohr replied "Yes he does, and sometimes he throws them where they cannot be seen"

Sometimes Philosophers, and even Physicists, pretend they can see the dice ...

 

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What does philosophy say about objectivity? The reason science doesn't deal with "reality" and "truth" is precisely because those terms are subjective to each person, and can't be trusted as the foundation for an explanation. We can only observe and measure and experiment, and those processes require the removal of as much subjective influence as possible.

Also, if I can find a recording of Frank Sinatra singing Gershwin's I'm a Poached Egg, does that invalidate the OP? Straight from the lips of the Chairman of the Board, how can he be lying?

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