The Great Flood

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Re: The Great Flood

Post by Current » Tue Mar 29, 2011 8:15 pm

AlbinoBlackSheep wrote:
Do you consider that legends are just as vulnerable to be overruled by evidence found later as scientific theories?
Oh heavens no! A legend is what it is, and there is only one that I can think of that is subject to change as scientific discoveries are. Besides, most people do not take legends seriously any way (unless it's a creation myth). I just think that legends can add a bit to humanity's understanding of the past.
I was unclear, sorry about that. I don't mean literally changing the story told by the legend, that would of course be rather silly. I mean the understanding provided by that legend, i.e. do you accept that if legends seem to point somewhere, and physical evidence says otherwise, our beliefs should shift accordingly?
the whole "Cortés was hailed as a returning Quetzalcoatl" is mostly based on reports of the Spanish conquistadores.
Really? :O The books I read never told me that! All they said was Cortes was viewed as a god. I may need to do the math on the whole Year One thing... or maybe not since I'm lazy. :p
It's discussed as part of the myths in Matthew Restall's Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest. Primarily what he calls the myth of superiority, basically the idea that the conquistadores had of themselves compared to the natives coloured much of what became "general knowledge" about the conquest. I don't know if that's the best source, just one I know of.
Por favor, perdona mi espanol. Mi primera lengua es ingles. Ahora, yo practica espanol con mi padres, pero todavia mi espanol es muy mal. u//u
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Re: The Great Flood

Post by The_Brigadier » Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:36 am

I was unclear, sorry about that. I don't mean literally changing the story told by the legend, that would of course be rather silly. I mean the understanding provided by that legend, i.e. do you accept that if legends seem to point somewhere, and physical evidence says otherwise, our beliefs should shift accordingly?
I just go with what seems best. As I've said before, there were many times when scienctific theories were proven completely wrong, so I just attempt to listen to the new theory and take it with a bit salt. I try to infer the basic truth of the legend and mix it with the new science and try to reach my conclusion.
the whole "Cortés was hailed as a returning Quetzalcoatl" is mostly based on reports of the Spanish conquistadores.

Really? :O The books I read never told me that! All they said was Cortes was viewed as a god. I may need to do the math on the whole Year One thing... or maybe not since I'm lazy. :p
It's discussed as part of the myths in Matthew Restall's Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest. Primarily what he calls the myth of superiority, basically the idea that the conquistadores had of themselves compared to the natives coloured much of what became "general knowledge" about the conquest. I don't know if that's the best source, just one I know of.
My history teacher told all of her classes that the winners write the history books. They often glorify their deeds and make it seem like the universe was aginst them. I guess the Spanish did that too...
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Re: The Great Flood

Post by Current » Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:39 pm

"Disponible" means available.

And yeah, a lot of misconceptions about the Conquest come because it was the Spanish telling the story. Bias was bound to creep in.

So, back to the more general point. If geologists determined that a worldwide flood with leave certain traces, and what is found is different, would you accept that as evidence that the flood myths are mistaken?
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Re: The Great Flood

Post by The_Brigadier » Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:43 pm

Muchas gracias! Yo tengo muchas problemas leendo y escribiendo espanol. Es muy deficil... Did I say that right?
If geologists determined that a worldwide flood with leave certain traces, and what is found is different, would you accept that as evidence that the flood myths are mistaken?
Yes and no. I would look at the new information and try to see if it's logical. However, I will not abandon the stories of hundreds of cultures for the new discovery. As much as science tries to find all the answers, it still cannot make me ignore the basic legend of the watery travesty told by hundreds of completely unrelated peoples.
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Re: The Great Flood

Post by Current » Wed Mar 30, 2011 6:32 pm

So, if I'm getting you clearly, you believe there's no conceivable piece of information that could lead you to believe the Flood never happened?
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Re: The Great Flood

Post by The_Brigadier » Wed Mar 30, 2011 7:42 pm

So, if I'm getting you clearly, you believe there's no conceivable piece of information that could lead you to believe the Flood never happened?
Pretty much! ^_^ I don't care what science states what happened (or what did not happen) in regards to the Great Flood, because I simply cannot ignore all the stories that were told be so many cultures. That's like a government giving a report about something, and the people saying something different. I'll take in bits and pieces of both and see what my conlusion is.
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Re: The Great Flood

Post by Current » Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:33 pm

Then I suppose I need to go a step deeper.

Ever heard of the principle that says that, if your hypothesis can explain all possible outcomes equally, then it's useless?
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Re: The Great Flood

Post by The_Brigadier » Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:06 pm

Er, no. I don't get what it means.
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Re: The Great Flood

Post by Current » Fri Apr 01, 2011 3:39 pm

Fair enough. An explanation is in order, then. Apologies for length.

Suppose you have a hypothesis about some aspect of the world, and you want to know if it's true. So, you try to design a way to test your hypothesis. A test of your hypothesis would be something that, if it has a certain result, means your hypothesis is more likely to be true, and if it has another result, means your hypothesis is less likely to be true¹.

Now, how do you know how to test? Well, you look at your hypothesis, and ask yourself what it would predict in a certain situation. If you think people named John are more likely to prefer the colour green than the average person, then your hypothesis would predict (for example) that if you survey lots of people, you'd see that the number of people named John who prefer green would be greater than the number of people named Ann who prefer green. So, your test for your hypothesis could be to make a survey. This is only one of the possible predictions you could make, and only one of the possible tests, but if you make many different tests and your hypothesis passes them all, each time it's more likely that it is, in fact, true. You are never completely, 100% no mistakes possible sure, but you get closer to that every time.

To test a hypothesis, you need to know what it predicts in a given situation. For some situations, your hypothesis might make no particular predictions, for example the John hypothesis above would tell you nothing about the populations of crocodiles in Egypt. It simply has nothing to do with it. But, and this is important, your hypothesis needs to make predictions for at least some situations. If I say that I have a monkey sitting on my left shoulder, then you can make plenty of predictions about that, including some really simple like "If I look at your left shoulder now, I'll see a monkey". But suppose I say the monkey is invisible, and intangible, and never makes a sound, and similarly for every possible way to test for the monkey. Then the monkey hypothesis is unfalsifiable. It simply doesn't make any difference whether the monkey is there or not. The universe looks exactly the same in either case.

As knowledge, the imperceptible monkey hypothesis is useless. There's no possible way to know if it's true or false since I cannot test it, and even if it was true, it would tell me nothing useful, I don't really know any more than I used to about the world. That's the basic idea of why hypotheses need to be falsifiable.

Now, you might argue that your flood hypothesis is not untestable, and that's partially true. Specifically, you accept "Floods will feature in many old legends" as an acceptable test of the hypothesis, but nothing else. That basically means that, once you've observed the legends, your hypothesis makes no further predictions about the world. That's equivalent to arguing that, other than creating legends, the Great Flood did absolutely nothing of any relevance. If it had, that would be a possible test, look for the marks of what the Flood did in geological formations and the like. But, if you accept no further evidence, then you are arguing for a Flood that covers the entire world, kills most of its population, and its only perceptible effect is creating stories. Do you see why that is incongruous?


¹Karl Popper is the guy who is most associated with the general idea, which is called falsificationism. The version I'm describing here has some differences with the one Popper proposed, for example, he said that results either made a hypothesis false or fail to make it false, rather than less likely or more likely.
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Re: The Great Flood

Post by The_Brigadier » Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:14 pm

Fair enough. An explanation is in order, then. Apologies for length.

Suppose you have a hypothesis about some aspect of the world, and you want to know if it's true. So, you try to design a way to test your hypothesis. A test of your hypothesis would be something that, if it has a certain result, means your hypothesis is more likely to be true, and if it has another result, means your hypothesis is less likely to be true¹.

Now, how do you know how to test? Well, you look at your hypothesis, and ask yourself what it would predict in a certain situation. If you think people named John are more likely to prefer the colour green than the average person, then your hypothesis would predict (for example) that if you survey lots of people, you'd see that the number of people named John who prefer green would be greater than the number of people named Ann who prefer green. So, your test for your hypothesis could be to make a survey. This is only one of the possible predictions you could make, and only one of the possible tests, but if you make many different tests and your hypothesis passes them all, each time it's more likely that it is, in fact, true. You are never completely, 100% no mistakes possible sure, but you get closer to that every time.

To test a hypothesis, you need to know what it predicts in a given situation. For some situations, your hypothesis might make no particular predictions, for example the John hypothesis above would tell you nothing about the populations of crocodiles in Egypt. It simply has nothing to do with it. But, and this is important, your hypothesis needs to make predictions for at least some situations. If I say that I have a monkey sitting on my left shoulder, then you can make plenty of predictions about that, including some really simple like "If I look at your left shoulder now, I'll see a monkey". But suppose I say the monkey is invisible, and intangible, and never makes a sound, and similarly for every possible way to test for the monkey. Then the monkey hypothesis is unfalsifiable. It simply doesn't make any difference whether the monkey is there or not. The universe looks exactly the same in either case.

As knowledge, the imperceptible monkey hypothesis is useless. There's no possible way to know if it's true or false since I cannot test it, and even if it was true, it would tell me nothing useful, I don't really know any more than I used to about the world. That's the basic idea of why hypotheses need to be falsifiable.

Now, you might argue that your flood hypothesis is not untestable, and that's partially true. Specifically, you accept "Floods will feature in many old legends" as an acceptable test of the hypothesis, but nothing else. That basically means that, once you've observed the legends, your hypothesis makes no further predictions about the world. That's equivalent to arguing that, other than creating legends, the Great Flood did absolutely nothing of any relevance. If it had, that would be a possible test, look for the marks of what the Flood did in geological formations and the like. But, if you accept no further evidence, then you are arguing for a Flood that covers the entire world, kills most of its population, and its only perceptible effect is creating stories. Do you see why that is incongruous?


¹Karl Popper is the guy who is most associated with the general idea, which is called falsificationism. The version I'm describing here has some differences with the one Popper proposed, for example, he said that results either made a hypothesis false or fail to make it false, rather than less likely or more likely.
??? O.o

I have absolutely no idea what you're saying. Can we both agree to disagree? You can go on believing that the Flood never happened, and I can go on believing that it did.
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