## Sunday, January 06, 2013

### Logic and facts and ignorance

So I am taking a logic class this term and as usual I am already annoyed with what people think of as "facts".

In the course reading the instructor makes a statement, "On the other hand, a fact is something that we do take to be objectively true (e.g., it’s a fact that the earth revolves around the
sun, not the other way around)."

The problem is this is a relative fact, not an absolute fact.

Huh?

Lets back up a little.  Suppose we have three people standing on the same line of longitude on the surface of the Earth.  One is standing on the North Pole at the point at which all lines of longitude start.  One is standing on the Equator.  One is standing on the 45th Parallel of latitude.  All of these people are standing as perfectly still as a person can possibly stand.  Which one is moving fastest?

The one on the equator is moving at about one thousand miles per hour.  The one on the 45th parallel is moving at about 750mph.  The one on the North Pole is moving at zero.  All of these conditions are relative to a point at the center of the Earth.

If we examine the motion of these three people from the relative perspective of the surface of the Earth or relative to each other the three men are motionless.  If we examine the three people from the relative perspective of the center of the Earth as the Earth rotates the position of a person on the surface of the globe defines the speed of their relative motion and we can say that the person on the Equator is moving the fastest.

But wait, suppose we examine the three people from a perspective of the center point of the Sun.  Which one is moving fastest?  In that case we have to know the relative position of the line of longitude upon which our three people are standing to the sun.  As the Earth rotates and moves around the Sun sometimes the person on the equator is moving faster and sometimes the person on the North Pole is moving faster because the velocity relative to the center point of the Sun is relative to the rotation of the Earth.  For part of the day the Earth's rotation is moving in the same direction as the Earth moves around the sun and we can add the rotational velocity of the Earth to the orbital velocity of the Earth.  For part of the day the Earths rotation is opposite the orbital direction and we must subtract the rotational velocity from the orbital velocity.

Everybody get that?  So we know that even standing very still motion is relative based on the observers perspective.

It actually gets very kewl here.  Einstein used the example of a train in motion.  If the observer is standing on the ground outside the train, relative to the observer the train is in motion.  If the observer is inside the train, relative to the observer the ground is in motion.

WTF?  The ground in motion?

Yes, because motion is relative to a reference point and in this case we are using the observer as the reference point just as we have used the surface of the Earth, the center of the Earth and the center of the Sun as reference points.

Motion is defined based on a reference point.  If there is no reference point there is no motion.

Now let us look at the statement "it’s a fact that the earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around"

Is this true?  No.  This is only true if we accept the sun as the reference point for the motion of the Earth.  Suppose we accept the location of an observer on the surface of the Earth as the reference point.  Is the statement still true?  The answer is NO.

And here we have the crux of the problem, it is a lot like 2+2=10.

Traditionally we assume that an equation is in the base ten system unless there is a notation that the equation is in a different base system.  However, some people can look at the equation 2+2=10 and say, "oh, we are in a base 4 system" while others will say "the equation is wrong".  Both would be correct since we have a rule of assumption in mathematics which tells us that unless otherwise noted all equations are in base 10.

In real life we don't always have the advantage of these assumptive rules.  Real problems in life don't obey assumptive rules concerning relative truths.

Unless we know that motion is defined relative to the center point of the Sun we can't say that the Earth revolves around the sun.  Unless we know that the equation is defined relative to the base 10 number system we can't say what 2+2 equals.

Without defining the relativity of the problem we are ignorant and can only make assumptions about relativity and guesses based on the assumptions.

Take the recent hoopla about making guns illegal or further increasing restrictive laws on firearms or however you want to define the Sandy Hook firearms hoopla.

The assumption is that guns are different than recreational drugs or alcohol or prostitution so the violence that develops when an unregulated black market is expanded after legislation restricting a market is passed.

In other words people assume that legislating guns won't create the same violent black market that legislating recreational drugs, alcohol, prostitution or etc did.

What is the relative reference point for that assumption?

Ignorance.

Try telling someone that they are ignorant, especially a professor at a University.

My wife used to get really angry with me when I would say "I'm ignorant.  I don't have enough information to have an opinion."  She believed that refusing to have an opinion before educating myself on a subject was a cop out.  Lots of people do.  Like my wife, many people will demand that someone formulate an uneducated opinion and then hold them to it.  Reporters are especially good at demanding opinions from bureaucrats or politicians without any regard for the persons education on a subject.

So here I am, once again, learning about logic from someone who doesn't know a fact from an opinion.  My professor doesn't understand the relativity of statements like "The Sun revolves around the Earth".  This professor is ignorant of the relative truth of statements like these.  Is that a problem?  Not usually because the vast majority of people are just going to accept the premise that the relative motion of the Earth MUST be defined from the center point of the Sun.

"Drink the koolaid".  I hate that slang.  It took me a while to track down the origin.  It is based on Jim Jones telling his followers to drink poisoned koolaid because it was good for them and so they drank it.  The big problem is, most people who use that statement are too stupid to know that they are "drinking koolaid" all the time.

My professor "drank the koolaid" regarding the relative motion of the Earth to the Sun, ie the assumption that the motion of the Earth always has to be defined relative to the center point of the Sun.  Is that a "true" assumption?  Not at all.  Like the equation 2+2 we can usually "drink the koolaid" and assume a base 10 system and we will be correct most of the time.  Should we?  Should we always assume a "universal truth"?  Isn't that "drinking the koolaid"?

I'll learn in this class.  I can learn from anyone.  I just need to control my vomit impulse.