Yet Another Idiotic "Proof of God"

Aug 21 2007 Published by under Bad Logic

A bunch of readers, and one commenter in another thread, have all hit me with a pathetic
monstrosity of a purported proof of God. Several have even been misled by the URL where the
dreadful thing is posted, thinking that ScienceBlogs have picked up a creationist. Rest assured, this bozo and his blog have nothing to do with our beloved ScienceBlogs (note the "S"); it's just some jerk who wants to try to capitalize on our reputation.

If you want to find the original page, you can go to "scienceblog.com" yourself and find it. I'm not going to link to this slime - his blog name is an attempt to use SBs reputation to pump up his credibility, so I'm not going to send hits his way.

Here's his proof - the entire thing:

It is an absolute truth that only that which equates ( = ) is true, that each approximation is founded upon a minimum of one untruth, and that, as such, each approximation is, technically, untrue. It is, also, an absolute truth ( = ) that, regardless of it's complexity, there is only one (1) original source of all of life, itself, and, therefore, of all of conscious life, itself, and, therefore, of consciousness, itself, and, given that the original source of all of consciousness, itself, cannot be unconscious and that consciousness, itself, cannot be inferior to itself, the original source of conscious life is, therefore, conscious ...whom most people call GOD.

Now, I find it difficult to read a mushed together single paragraph like that, so here's the same thing reformatted into a list of numbered statements, with the pompous redundant wording removed:

  1. Definition of truth:
    1. Only that which equates ( = ) is true;
    2. Every approximation is founded upon a minimum of one untruth
    3. Therefore, every approximation is, technically, untrue.
  2. Origin of Life and Consciousness
    1. Regardless of it's complexity, there is only one (1) original source of all of life.
    2. Therefore, there is only one original source of all of conscious life.
    3. Therefore, there is only one original source of consciousness, itself
  3. Therefore God
    1. The original source of all of consciousness, itself, cannot be unconscious.
    2. Consciousness, itself, cannot be inferior to itself.
    3. The original source of conscious life is, therefore, conscious.
    4. The original conscious source of conscious life is God.

This is nothing but a simple exercise in embedding your conclusion in your premises.

The first part - the part that I've labeled "Definition of truth" - is completely irrelevant to
the rest. It's his attempt to undermine science. After all, in science we're pretty much always using
approximations (you can't do anything but approximation without including the state of the entire
universe in every experiment; since we don't know the state of the entire universe, that's impossible).
So if approximations are all false, then nothing that scientists have ever done or can ever do is actually
true. Silly, but as I said, irrelevant to the rest of his so-called proof.

The next part is the first place where he just assumes his conclusion. Why is there only one source of all
life? If abiogenesis is possible, it can easily happen independently in multiple places. You can't
prove abiogenesis is impossible simply by making an assumption that it's impossible.

From the origin of life, to the origin of consciousness, he does the same thing. Why
can't the original source of consciousness be unconscious? This is supposedly a proof of God, and
that God created us. You can't just assume that consciousness can't arise as an emergent
phenomena without any conscious instigator - that what you're supposedly trying to prove. This
is the conclusion of the proof - putting it here, as a premise, completely invalidates the proof - the whole thing boils down to "If you assume that God exists, then you can prove from your assumption that God exists." Not a very compelling proof.

And he pulls an even stupider move: "Consciousness cannot be inferior to itself". That's a tautology: X=X, therefore ¬X<X. It's a meaningless statement: "inferior" isn't defined, and of course nothing is inferior to itself. (If X is inferior to itself, then X is also superior to itself, which renders
inferior and superior either meaningless or equivalent to each other.)

Next is just more of the "assume the conclusion"; this time he just masquerades it as if it were
an inference from previous statements when it's really just another bald assertion of the conclusion.

And then, finally: surprise! He's proved that God exists, after only assuming it 3 or 4 times. Impressive, huh?

And this is the guy who thinks he can steal ScienceBlogs thunder? Give me a break...

40 responses so far

  • Jeb, FCD says:

    Here's the booger's whois info:
    Ben Sullivan
    4404-1/2 Price Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90027
    United States
    Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
    Domain Name: SCIENCEBLOG.COM
    Created on: 18-Nov-01
    Expires on: 18-Nov-09
    Last Updated on: 12-Jun-07
    Administrative Contact:
    Sullivan, Ben Whois Privacy and Spam Prevention by DomainTools.com
    4404-1/2 Price Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90027
    United States
    (323) 913-0539 Fax --
    smazsyn@pacbell.net
    Technical Contact:
    Sullivan, Ben Whois Privacy and Spam Prevention by DomainTools.com
    4404-1/2 Price Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90027
    United States
    (323) 913-0539 Fax --
    Domain servers in listed order:
    NS1.KEEPYOURPECKERUP.ORG
    NS2.KEEPYOURPECKERUP.ORG

  • Blake Stacey says:

    I'm rather surprised that Seed Media Group, LLC didn't buy that domain. Huh.

  • cephyn says:

    HEY HOLD ON - Ben Sullivan isn't the problem. The god proof post is A READER POST - pay attention before you try to nail someone. "Jane Smith" is the author of the god proof - not Ben (BJS).
    Ben posts, and has for some time, great science information under BJS. I've read ScienceBlog.com for longer than I've read the SEED blogs.
    Don't go after Ben. He's not the problem.

  • cephyn says:

    Oh and if you pay attention to the whois, the domain has been registered since 2001. That's longer than scienceblogs.com (2003).
    I'm all for going after creationist nutjobs, but try reading the whole site and looking at authors. Mark, your characterization "his blog name is an attempt to use SBs reputation to pump up his credibility, so I'm not going to send hits his way." is rather inaccurate - scienceblog.com has been around longer and deserves your hits. They allow user-created blogs, and that's where the creationist one came from - not the site owner.

  • Sad. Reminds me of this (cross-posted from Uncertain Principles thread "Best. Movie. Line. Ever.):
    The utterly insane yet poignently poetic line that Catherine (Gwyneth Paltrow) reads to her father Robert (Anthony Hopkins) from his notebook, confirming that, alas, he is totally delusional, and revealed by a series of flashbacks, in Proof, the 2005 film directed by John Madden, written by David Auburn (who also wrote Proof, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play on which the film is based) and Rebecca Miller. University of Chicago mathematics professor Paul Sally served as academic consultant.
    "Let X equal the quantity of all quantities of X. Let X equal the cold. It is cold in December. The months of cold equal November through February. There are four months of cold & four months of heat, leaving four months of indeterminate temperature. In February it snows. In March the lake is a lake of ice. In September the students come back & the bookstores are full. Let X equal the months of full bookstores. The number of books approaches infinity as the number of months of cold approaches four. I will never be as cold now as I will in the future. The future of cold is infinite. The future of heat is the future of cold. The bookstores are infinite & so are never full except in September."

  • Rose Colored Glasses says:

    Only equalities are true? Then are inequalities necessarily false? To say that "4>3" I would think to be a true statement. What would be the truth value of "this guy is dumber than dirt"? If he would think it must be false, then he must also rule false the proposition "this fool is smarter than a bug turd".

  • Torbjörn Larsson, OM says:

    Life evolved so fast that it could well have happened independently in place and time several times. The later last universal ancestor population seems to be estimated to arise 0.5 to 1 Ga after Earth coalesced.
    (While on the topic of independent abiogenesis, this is pretty exciting since the Mars rovers has indications that Mars had free surface water another 0.5 Ga after that.)

  • Torbjörn Larsson, OM says:

    And just to underscore how fast the science on early life seems to progress, I just stumbled on a post discussing not only the > 3.5 Ga geological record of it, but also newly discovered 3.2 Ga old hydrothermal deposits with some suggestive data on total organic carbon content, carbon isotope ratios and organic residue morphology.

    Their study of 3.24 million year-old massive hydrothermal deposits on the Pilbara craton in western Australia provides strong evidence for a flourishing bacterial ecosystem around hydrothermal vents ...

    Hydrothermal vents and very small proteins built around iron-sulfur surfaces may be indications of conditions for early life.
    The original article is behind a pay-wall, but the post has some photos of interesting morphology.

  • Jon says:

    This comment, itself, is, itself, itself. Therefore if it is, and it is, then it, itself, is.
    In other words: "I just commented".
    This character should read some Orwell.

  • Alex says:

    Actually, the most amusing thing about this "proof" is that it proves that human beings are equal to God.
    Given the premises:
    3.2 "Consciousness, itself, cannot be inferior to itself."
    3.4 "The original conscious source of conscious life is God."
    And add on the premise that "humans posses consciousness" - then we've just proved that human consciousness cannot be inferior to God's divine consciousness.

  • Andrew Wade says:

    Actually, the most amusing thing about this "proof" is that it proves that human beings are equal to God.

    That's what I thought at first, but it really depends. Is "inferiority" a trichotomous relation, or merely a strict partial order? What are the referents to the various "itself"s? Are we talking about the category of consciousness, or about members of that category? Does the author even know?

  • John Morales says:

    Andrew, I think Alex has it right.
    You're operating at a level of abstraction that I doubt the author of the original argument considered.

  • toby says:

    This is just another version of the Ontological Proof of God's existence, first advanced by St Anselm, an Archbishop of Canterbury in the 11th century.
    It went something like this:
    Think of the most powerful thing you can conceive of,
    The most powerful thing you concieve has to be God,
    But if this God does not have existence, then it is not the most powerful thing you can think of.
    Therefore God must exist.
    I am sure Mark would rip this argument to shreds, and philosophers, including other Christian philosophers like St. Thomas Aquinas, have been doing that for centuries.
    But we can give poor old Anselm a break - he was writing in the Dark Ages after all.

  • daenku32 says:

    He should have used more commas and repeated words.

  • AJS says:

    The oft-quoted "Thomas Aquinas proof of God" has a flawed premise. It is not certain that the attributes of a perfect being would necessarily include existence in reality. After all, a perfect being might -- just by virtue of existing -- inspire jealousy in all imperfect beings, leading them to behave in undesirable ways and ultimately cause more trouble than if such a being were not to exist in the first place. But "making things worse just by being there" is necessarily not an attribute of a perfect being (even though our perfect being would have no control over the actions of others). This, then, would preclude the existence in reality of a perfect being.

    [R]egardless of it's [sic] complexity, there is only one (1) original source of all of life

    And this is the flawed premise in this argument. There is no reason to suppose that life has exactly one origin. Remember Joseph Swan and Thomas Edison? Elisha Gray and Aleander Graham Bell? Thomas Edison and Emil Berliner? They all invented similar things around the same time in different places, independently of one another.
    Similarly, there is no reason to suppose that the initial conditions for abiogenesis didn't exist independently in several parts of the universe at the same time. Indeed, given a large enough universe, it's almost preposterous to suggest that this didn't happen.
    Without something to back up this bald assertion, any conclusion it is used to support must be considered shaky at best -- and if this premise can be used to support via sound reasoning a demonstrably-false conclusion, then it is disproved.

  • I have seen somewhere a book with a proof of God written by Godel, but I hadn't the chance to read it (also because I thought it to be too difficult to understand for me), it seems that was based on St Anselm's one.

  • p says:

    Giacamo: that's Goedel's translation of Anselm's argument into modal logic.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del's_ontological_proo

  • Ahruman says:

    Premise 2.1 = premise 2.2. It equates, therefore it is true.

  • John Marley says:

    [sarcasm]
    1) I don't understand logic
    2) I am human
    3) Therefore humans can't understand logic
    4) Therefore any logic-y sounding argument is valid
    [/sarcam]

  • Wasn't it Vladimir Nabokov who wrote:
    (1) All men are mortal.
    (2) Socrates was a man.
    (3) I am not Socrates.
    (4) Therefore I am immortal.

  • Never mind bogus proofs of the existence of God. I've been unable to prove my own existence to some autodidact who only has about 9 sort of publications engendered by the Philosophy professor Bostrom at Oxford. Eliezer Yudkowsky has no education. Eliezer Yudkowsky has no discoveries.
    Outside his little hermaneutic world he has no verifiable existence that I can find, but that what he says about me. Impasse.
    When you try to find out by Googling his underwhelming publication list, one sees that he did make a wonderful point on one of his websites, however, which I cannot help but wish to extend (from http://yudkowsky.net):
    "Most of my old writing is horrifically obsolete. Essentially you should assume that anything from 2001 or earlier was written by a different person who also happens to be named 'Eliezer Yudkowsky.' 2002-2003 is an iffy call."
    Why not just go the whole distance and include through 2007? Then the whole thing makes perfect sense to me.
    One of my co-authors, Southern New Hampshire University's full professor of International Business and Economics Philip V. Fellman, and one of the original Free BSD people, well-known Internet expert John Sokol and prolific inventor, both attempted to convice Yudkowsky that I did, in fact, exist, and have been seen working with Nobel laureates. The result? See below.
    =============
    http://www.overcomingbias.com/2007/08/is-molecular-na.html
    [Edit: Unpublished comments from JVP aliases "John Sokol" and "Dr. Philip V. Fellman".]
    Posted by: Eliezer Yudkowsky | August 22, 2007 at 05:04 PM
    ==============
    This is as strange as anything in Philip K. Dick, Greg Egan, The Matrix, or The Thirteenth Floor all of which, of course, beat Bostrom to his so-called Simulation Argument as did many others, myself included.
    I suppose that a really hard-core atheist would deny any attempts by God to prove His own existence.
    But I am feeling ontologically and epistemologically battered right now.
    Is Eliezer Yudkowsky a crackpot, by the terms of this blog? Just wondering.

  • Jonathan says:

    I don't know, but Lewis Carroll wrote this:
    (1) No terriers wander among the signs of the zodiac
    (2) Nothing that does not wander among the signs of the zodiac is a comet
    (3) Nothing but a terrier has a curly tail
    Therefore (4) No comet has a curly tail.
    I love a good argument. The creationists don't seem to have any.

  • Lito Cruz says:

    Here is Godel's proof.
    Proof
    Axiom 1. (Dichotomy) A property is positive if and only if its negation is negative.
    Axiom 2. (Closure) A property is positive if it necessarily contains a positive property.
    Theorem 1. A positive property is logically consistent (i.e., possibly it has some instance.)
    Definition. Something is God-like if and only if it possesses all positive properties.
    Axiom 3. Being God-like is a positive property.
    Axiom 4. Being a positive property is (logical, hence) necessary.
    Definition. A property P is the essence of x if and only if x has P and P is necessarily minimal.
    Theorem 2. If x is God-like, then being God-like is the essence of x.
    Definition. NE(x) means x necessarily exists if it has an essential property.
    Axiom 5. Being NE is God-like.
    Theorem 3. Necessarily there is some x such that x is God-like.
    (qed)

  • AJS says:

    Careful, you're slipping. There are two places where logical fallacies can slip into a reasoned argument; in the initial assumptions or in the reasoning process itself.
    1. If you begin with sound premises, and apply sound reasoning, then you will reach a correct conclusion.
    2. If you begin with faulty premises, and apply sound reasoning, then your conclusion will be incorrect.
    3. If you begin with sound premises, and apply faulty reasoning, then your conclusion will be incorrect.
    4. Therefore, if you reach a correct conclusion in spite of an obvious flaw in your premises, you must have applied faulty reasoning.

  • John Morales says:

    AJS, in the featured "argument", everything is flawed.
    The premises, the reasoning, the conclusion.
    Ah, sorry... you are presumably referring to Godel's formalisation of Anselm's argument.
    It's also unclear whether you're responding to Lito or Godel.

  • Smokin Joe says:

    That proof reminded me of a Daily Show segment: Even Stephen.
    I know its not the best reference but it had such a great line -
    The Bible is the word of God, which is the truth. And why is it the truth? Because the Bible, which is the Word of God, says it's true. And that's true because the Bible says it's true.
    Man, I'm a spiritual person, but proving an existance of God is like saying we can explain everything in the Universe with conventional Physics. The beauty of being human is that we can only inch closer and closer to the meanings, but never really get there.

  • Anonymous says:

    Just because for the fact that I can't understand what this guy was saying, is reason enough to call it bullshit, particularly when it relates to God. There's no need for me to try to figure out what he actually said.

  • Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD says:

    How are we supposed to take this proof seriously WHEN IT'S NOT IN ALL CAPS?

  • Steve says:

    Why has MarkCC not corrected his mis-characterization of the source of the proof as well as the nature of scienceblog.com?

  • On the other hand, perhaps we should posthumously applaud Kurt Godel for his contributions to Theomathematics, based on his axiomatization of the Ontological Proof of God.
    In the same vein, perhaps we should take our Theomathematical hats off to Eliezer Yudkowsky for advancing the state of the art in Experimental Ontology. Since he has asserted, despite notices to the contrary, that I do not exist, and that one of my co-authors and one of my business associates are merely alibis of myself, we shall she what nonexistent people can accomplish through university officials, attorneys, and other sophisticated means of rational suasion.
    Just as Science fiction has dealt with the courtroom drama that might ensue when a chimpanzee, an australopithecus, a robot, or an extraterrestrial assert their civil rights, I intend to explore the extent to which the putatively nonexistent can assert their rights.
    After all, God is on my side. Right?

  • Paul Brennan says:

    The critiqued article is a pseudo-intellectual exercise, through-and-through, in fallacious reasoning known as "begging the question"--assuming the premise you are supposed to be trying to prove.
    That phrase, by the way, is being morphed--by T.V. anchor types and the like--to mean "inviting a question" or "suggesting a question"; a meaning far off the true one.

  • Torbjörn Larsson, OM says:

    Paul Brennan:

    assuming the premise you are supposed to be trying to prove.

    I'm not sure what you mean here.
    The author is modeling a purported empirical phenomena, so of course he must make assumptions to get predictions. The problem is that there are no observations to test the model, and so assumptions, on.

  • Torbjörn Larsson, OM says:

    Oh, maybe you are saying that complete ad hoc models, that doesn't connect with other data or theory, is often found wrong later. Agreed.

  • The Ontological proof of God is merely a tautological equation: existence=God. Such an equation is identical to saying "existence exists."

  • Follow-up tyo #21 and #30:
    Now it seems that I am banned from publishing comments, on-topic, which quote from and discuss my co-author and mentor Richard Feynman.
    First my very existence is denied, and I am censored and banned on that basis. Then my coauthors and coworkers are asserted to be merely my sock-puppets or aliases. Now my mentor and coauthor, one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century is implicitly being disrespected by my being prevented from rationally discussing his
    contributions.
    What next? Will they accuse my family of having loathesome diseases? Will they insult the memory of my deceased mother?
    In an email to me Nick Bostrom incorrectly asserts that all defamatory statements about myself and colleagues have been removed.
    It is looking more and more as if I shall have to take legal action against Nick Bostrom and what is apparently a cult of his satellites.
    Or, in the alternative, a definitive apology to the complete satisfaction of myself, my coauthors (including Professor Philip V. Fellman), and my colleague John Sokol must be posted in a conspicuous part of the "Overcoming Bias" blog, and all
    bans against us lifted in perpetuity.
    Which shall it be? The rational suasion which Overcoming Bias pretends to observe, or my attorney and Nick Bostrom's solicitor exchanging Legal papers?
    It makes me uncomfortable to contemplate this, as a suit is apparently taking place, or about to take plade, against PZ Myers on a scienceblog.
    But I can reasonably believe that PZ Myers did not defame the self-published author in question, whole lawsuit seems frivolous to me, while believing that the ontological defamation of myself and my colleagues is actionable and non-frivolous. But perhaps I am being irrational and emotional. What do the readers and commenters of Good Math, Bad Math, think, having been in conversation with me for over a year?
    -- Professor Jonathan Vos Post
    =============
    http://www.overcomingbias.com/2007/08/exccess-trust-i.html
    An error occurred...
    You are not allowed to post comments.
    =============
    PREVIEWING:
    Richard Feynman was quintessentially rational about Science, and rejected ad hominem arguments and appeals to authority.
    "In general we look for a new law by the following process. First we guess it. Then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what would be implied if this law that we guessed is right. Then we compare the result of the computation to nature, with experiment or experience, compare it directly with observation, to see if it works."
    "If it disagrees with experiment it is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is. It does not make any difference how smart you are, who
    made the guess, or what his name is - if it disagrees with experiment it is wrong. That is all there is to it. It is true that one has to check a little to make sure that it is wrong, because whoever did the
    experiment may have reported incorrectly, or there may have been some feature in the experiment that was not noticed, some dirt or something; or the man who computed the consequences, even though it may have been the one who made the guesses, could have made some mistakes in the analysis. These are obvious remarks, so when I say if
    it disagrees with experiment it is wrong, I mean after the experiment has been checked, the calculations have been checked, and the thing has been rubbed back and forth a few times to make sure that the
    consequences are logical consequences from the guess, and that in fact it disagrees with a very carefully checked experiment."
    -- Feynman, Richard, 1965, The Character of Physical Law, MIT Press, Cambridge, Chap. 7, "Seeking New Laws."
    Note that Feynman published relatively few papers, yet his greatness as a scientist and teacher is not attacked on that basis.
    http://units.sla.org/division/dpam/pam-bulletin/vol33/no2/pamnet.html
    Bob Michaelson brought to our attention the h-number. Jorge Hirsch from UCSD has come up with a factor called the h-index, which takes into account the number of papers published by a scientist and the number of citations for each paper. Thus, a scientist with an h-index of 10 would have published 10 papers that have been cited at least ten
    times. Hirsch says this is a more accurate way of considering the output of individual scientists.
    Bob wrote:
    "The h-number is faster and easier to find using ISI's Web of Science than several other measures, such as citations per paper -- just order the scientist's papers by "times cited". (Although in practice you
    would need to go through the list of citations to combine ones that are actually to the same paper but for which the citation format differs slightly.) It has other advantages as discussed in Hirsch's
    paper, though Hirsch cautions that the h-index might be different for
    different subfields "One should make sure one knows what the typical values in each subfield are if one is comparing individuals from different subfields."'
    Subsequently, Bob explored the h-number, using Richard Feynman as a test case, and found "one of the most distinguished physical scientists of the second half of the 20th century seems to have a ranking that is less than outstanding....I interpret this as indicating a scientist who does very important work but who publishes relatively few papers." Travis Brooks responded:"We (SPIRES) were so
    taken with h, that we just added it to our cite summary format. ... In regards to Feynman's "low" h, I would imagine that this is due as much to the sociology of the field, as it is to his particular publishing habits. It was not as common to publish as often as it is now, and of
    course by now, most of his papers are subsumed into "common knowledge" and are no longer cited." Bob replied that he wasn't convinced of this, offering a comparison with Julian Schwinger, who published 35
    papers over the same period.
    Posted by: Jonathan V. Post | August 26, 2007 at 02:40 AM
    =============

  • Follow-up tyo #21 and #30:
    Now it seems that I am banned from publishing comments, on-topic, which quote from and discuss my co-author and mentor Richard Feynman.
    First my very existence is denied, and I am censored and banned on that basis. Then my coauthors and coworkers are asserted to be merely my sock-puppets or aliases. Now my mentor and coauthor, one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century is implicitly being disrespected by my being prevented from rationally discussing his
    contributions.
    What next? Will they accuse my family of having loathesome diseases? Will they insult the memory of my deceased mother?
    In an email to me Nick Bostrom incorrectly asserts that all defamatory statements about myself and colleagues have been removed.
    It is looking more and more as if I shall have to take legal action against Nick Bostrom and what is apparently a cult of his satellites.
    Or, in the alternative, a definitive apology to the complete satisfaction of myself, my coauthors (including Professor Philip V. Fellman), and my colleague John Sokol must be posted in a conspicuous part of the "Overcoming Bias" blog, and all
    bans against us lifted in perpetuity.
    Which shall it be? The rational suasion which Overcoming Bias pretends to observe, or my attorney and Nick Bostrom's solicitor exchanging Legal papers?
    It makes me uncomfortable to contemplate this, as a suit is apparently taking place, or about to take plade, against PZ Myers on a scienceblog.
    But I can reasonably believe that PZ Myers did not defame the self-published author in question, whole lawsuit seems frivolous to me, while believing that the ontological defamation of myself and my colleagues is actionable and non-frivolous. But perhaps I am being irrational and emotional. What do the readers and commenters of Good Math, Bad Math, think, having been in conversation with me for over a year?
    -- Professor Jonathan Vos Post
    =============
    [place hypertext transfer protocol acronym here]//www.overcomingbias.com/2007/08/exccess-trust-i.html
    An error occurred...
    You are not allowed to post comments.
    =============
    PREVIEWING:
    Richard Feynman was quintessentially rational about Science, and rejected ad hominem arguments and appeals to authority.
    "In general we look for a new law by the following process. First we guess it. Then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what would be implied if this law that we guessed is right. Then we compare the result of the computation to nature, with experiment or experience, compare it directly with observation, to see if it works."
    "If it disagrees with experiment it is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is. It does not make any difference how smart you are, who
    made the guess, or what his name is - if it disagrees with experiment it is wrong. That is all there is to it. It is true that one has to check a little to make sure that it is wrong, because whoever did the
    experiment may have reported incorrectly, or there may have been some feature in the experiment that was not noticed, some dirt or something; or the man who computed the consequences, even though it may have been the one who made the guesses, could have made some mistakes in the analysis. These are obvious remarks, so when I say if
    it disagrees with experiment it is wrong, I mean after the experiment has been checked, the calculations have been checked, and the thing has been rubbed back and forth a few times to make sure that the
    consequences are logical consequences from the guess, and that in fact it disagrees with a very carefully checked experiment."
    -- Feynman, Richard, 1965, The Character of Physical Law, MIT Press, Cambridge, Chap. 7, "Seeking New Laws."
    Note that Feynman published relatively few papers, yet his greatness as a scientist and teacher is not attacked on that basis.
    [place hypertext transfer protocol acronym here]//units.sla.org/division/dpam/pam-bulletin/vol33/no2/pamnet.html
    Bob Michaelson brought to our attention the h-number. Jorge Hirsch from UCSD has come up with a factor called the h-index, which takes into account the number of papers published by a scientist and the number of citations for each paper. Thus, a scientist with an h-index of 10 would have published 10 papers that have been cited at least ten
    times. Hirsch says this is a more accurate way of considering the output of individual scientists.
    Bob wrote:
    "The h-number is faster and easier to find using ISI's Web of Science than several other measures, such as citations per paper -- just order the scientist's papers by "times cited". (Although in practice you
    would need to go through the list of citations to combine ones that are actually to the same paper but for which the citation format differs slightly.) It has other advantages as discussed in Hirsch's
    paper, though Hirsch cautions that the h-index might be different for
    different subfields "One should make sure one knows what the typical values in each subfield are if one is comparing individuals from different subfields."'
    Subsequently, Bob explored the h-number, using Richard Feynman as a test case, and found "one of the most distinguished physical scientists of the second half of the 20th century seems to have a ranking that is less than outstanding....I interpret this as indicating a scientist who does very important work but who publishes relatively few papers." Travis Brooks responded:"We (SPIRES) were so
    taken with h, that we just added it to our cite summary format. ... In regards to Feynman's "low" h, I would imagine that this is due as much to the sociology of the field, as it is to his particular publishing habits. It was not as common to publish as often as it is now, and of
    course by now, most of his papers are subsumed into "common knowledge" and are no longer cited." Bob replied that he wasn't convinced of this, offering a comparison with Julian Schwinger, who published 35
    papers over the same period.
    Posted by: Jonathan V. Post | August 26, 2007 at 02:40 AM
    =============

  • Mark C. Chu-Carroll says:

    JvP:
    Please tone down the paranoia! Have I ever banned someone from commenting without good reason, or without telling them?
    For goodness sake, I'm on vacation, and my only net access is via my iphone. So comment moderation will be both slow and erratic.

  • Ben Sullivan says:

    Hear hear to this:
    http://scientopia.org/blogs/goodmath/2007/08/yet-another-idiotic-proof-of-god#comment-539858
    I started ScienceBlog.com a few years before SEED founded ScienceBlogs.com.
    I didn't publish the article in question. My site (like SEED's) hosts other bloggers, and is an aggregator of science press releases http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/about-21818.html
    The less confusion in the marketplace the better, as far as I'm concerned. I even asked the SEED cats to find another name, way back when, as I'd been using mine daily for years before they showed up. They declined.

  • Shai Deshe says:

    Amusing.
    Proofs to the non-existence of god are usually equally amusing.

  • Andrews Adjei Sowah says:

    The existence of God is not to be subjected to a mere debate. It is actually,one fact that anybody who denies the existence of God has automatically disowned his source of life. The silence of God to the many evil activities that are taking place everywhere @ the same time has made people think that there is no Master of this universe. I can never understand God; and I will not attempt to,rather the evidence abound that,man is connected to nature and everything that man relies on to live comes from nature. The way and manner that things play out in our daily lives in relation to nature from which all inventions have their source,scientists should have been the first people to admit the very existence of God,having gone closer to experiment what has already been created which they can never reproduce in like manner,but only use as basis for medicine and other physical inventions.The existence of God cannot be proved further if one fails to see and appreciate what has already been created. Whether we believe it not God exists, our YES or NO to HIS existence can never change anything. TAKE A MIRROR AND LOOK AT YOUR IMAGE AND SAY THERE IS NO GOD, AND SEE WHO YOU WILL LOOK LIKE. A BIG FAT LIAR. JEREMIAH 33:3 call now search the bible without prejudice, and God will lead you to HIMSELF. We are very limited when thinking about spiritual matters.

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