[ExI] fermi question alive and well

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Sun Mar 31 16:00:16 UTC 2019

It's a matter of words, all right.

How did Pluto get kicked out of the planet category?  The astronomers voted
on criteria for being called a planet.  Thus defining planet.

Starting with examples is an excellent idea.  You observe your example and
make a list of the features of it and come up with a name for that overall
list.  To use your example:  tree.  Leaves, bark, etc.  If it has those
qualities it is a tree, by induction.  Or you can turn it around and give
examples of trees - deduction.

I fail to see how a list of qualities, or criteria, or any other word you
may want to use, is anything different from a definition.  It's just a name
for a set of criteria.

And - of course you can define consciousness.  Just give a list of its
features and bingo - definition.  Consciousness is no more abstract than
'tree'  IF you tie your criteria (definition) to observable things we can
agree on are objective reality.  EEG readings, for instance.

Then we find that some things meet some of the definition but not all of
it, and to make matters worse, meet the definition of something else just
as well as the first thing.

So, is it a planet or isn't it?  Depends on your definition.  OH OH -
wait.  What if we want to redefine something?  Like when they changed the
definition of planet so as to exclude Pluto.  Others argued that they
preferred the original set of criteria (definition).

So who is right?  The majority - they set the definition (criteria).
Subject to change, as in all things in science.

bill w   p.s. I do NOT think that most people get along fine with words -
maybe to others of equal ignorance

On Sat, Mar 30, 2019 at 9:00 PM John Clark <johnkclark at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sat, Mar 30, 2019 at 9:17 PM William Flynn Wallace <foozler83 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > *But of what are those people examples? You must have some definition
>> in mind to choose those people.*
> No, I have examples of people who can do things with their mind similar to
> stuff Albert Einstein could  do with his, Alan Turing would meet that
> criteria for intelligence.
>> *> The definition comes first,*
> Where do you think lexicographers get the knowledge to write their
> dictionary? From examples of language use of course. All definition are
> made of words in a dictionary, and those words also have definitions that
> are in the same dictionary, and round and round it goes. The only thing
> that can break us out of that infinite loop and give real meaning to
> language is is examples; I point to a tall thing with green stuff at the
> top and say "tree" and you get the idea. Without examples language is just
> noises made by the mouth or a sequence of ASCII symbols on a page that
> corresponds with other ASCII symbols on another page, one squiggle would
> mean another squiggle and that's all it would mean.
>> > *then the deduction to the example.*
> Most people have not looked at a dictionary in 40 years since their fourth
> grade teacher made them, and yet they get along just fine.
>  John K Clark
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