Zeteticism - how exactly does it work
« on: April 05, 2016, 06:44:58 PM »
So, this board has a "Zetetic council" and apparently the FE-movement is connected to a method called Zeteticism. I have read the relevant wiki article, but it did leave some questions, which I'd like to ask here.

1. Difference to the scientific method:
The wiki states: "Zeteticism differs from the usual scientific method in that using zeteticism one bases his conclusions on experimentation and observation rather than on an initial theory that is to be proved or disproved." But it seems to me that the scientific method also bases it's conclusions on observation. Since both methods base their conclusions on observations, it would follow that their conclusions would be the same. Specifically, I cannot see how leaving out the hypothesis would change the end result.

2. How does Zeteticism structure it's inquiry?
The wiki states that Zeteticism simply skips the hypothesis step and goes straight to the experiment. But how does the zetetic know which experiment to conduct and what the result will mean? Let's take the question from the wiki: "What is the shape of the earth?" Without prior information, the amount of possible shapes is infinite. So first of all, there'd be no logical way to choose any experiment out of the infinite possible ones. The experiment could only be randomly selected.
If the experiment is nevertheless conducted, then you get a random bit of information. Since it's random, you have no idea where it fits within your infinite possibility space, so you have no idea what possiblity you just excluded.
But it still gets worse: Even if every observation excluded one shape, the remaining possible shapes would still be infinite. One would need an infinite number of observations, which is impossible.
The wiki's reference to the Bedford level experiment supports this view, since it stays that Samuel Rowbotham specifically tested if the water was convex in order to disprove the hypothesis that the earth is a sphere. Had he not formed the hypothesis "the earth is a sphere", he would not have known to check whether the water is convex. Had he by chance found out it was or wasn't convex, he would not have known what possibility that excluded. Had he not also formed the hypothesis "the earth is flat", finding that the water was convex or wasn't convex would not have resulted in a definitive result. He'd still have an infinite number of possibilities left.

3. Why Zeteticism?
It can be proven, from a-priori knowledge, that the scientific method is a working way to gain empirical knowledge. Is there any philosophy behind Zeteticism and a metaphysical argument about how it's superior to the scientific method?

No doubt it would be a huge discovery if Rowbotham had found a new way to gain empirical knowledge that the philosophers of the enlightenment did not think about. So I'm very interested in seeing if someone here can adress my concerns.


Offline Ghost Spaghetti

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Re: Zeteticism - how exactly does it work
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2016, 08:17:14 AM »
The idea of Zeteticism is that you start, as far as possible, from first principles, rather than the scientific method which builds its knowledge base on top of other assumptions.

Re: Zeteticism - how exactly does it work
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2016, 01:18:38 PM »
The idea of Zeteticism is that you start, as far as possible, from first principles, rather than the scientific method which builds its knowledge base on top of other assumptions.

What are those first principles? What are the assumption the scientific method builds it's knowledge on?
The scientific knowledge builds knowledge on previous knowledge, I'd agree, but that's not a problem in and of itself. As long as the previous knowledge was properly gained, it is a solid foundation for new knowledge.


Offline Lord Dave

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Re: Zeteticism - how exactly does it work
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2016, 02:39:45 PM »
The idea of Zeteticism is that you start, as far as possible, from first principles, rather than the scientific method which builds its knowledge base on top of other assumptions.

What are those first principles? What are the assumption the scientific method builds it's knowledge on?
The scientific knowledge builds knowledge on previous knowledge, I'd agree, but that's not a problem in and of itself. As long as the previous knowledge was properly gained, it is a solid foundation for new knowledge.

Basically when you want to see what shape the world is, pretend you're 5 and know nothing.
If you are going to DebOOonK an expert then you have to at least provide a source with credentials of equal or greater relevance. Even then, it merely shows that some experts disagree with each other.

Re: Zeteticism - how exactly does it work
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2016, 04:49:12 AM »
So, the site with a Zetetic council board cannot at all tell me anything about Zeteticism? That's kinda disappointing. Maybe I should have taken this question to the other forum.

Re: Zeteticism - how exactly does it work
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2016, 01:14:31 PM »
There's no need to get all passive-aggressive on us. It's easy for any individual thread to fall by the wayside.

Well, can't argue with results ;)

The main difference between Zeteticism and modern science is that the former relies solely on what is directly observable.

I heard this before, but I am not sure what "directly observable" means, exactly. For example, if I watch a video of an event, I assume that doesn't count as direct observation of the event. But what about a life feed? What about looking through your digital camera filming while the event happens? Where is the line and why is it there? Is there anything special about direct observation?

There's none of the dependence on hypotheticals or authoritative bodies; the results of experiments that cannot be independently replicated and verified are considered inadmissible.

Isn't that also a core tenet of the scientific method? Most of the experiments being done are done to independently verify results or theories.

Due to the nature of the scientific method, it's often unappreciated just how much cognitive bias affects the processing of information - massive assumptions are rendered imperceptible to otherwise perfectly rational people.

Sure, but I don't see how Zeteticism is supposed to adress this. See my points in the OP. It isn't even theoretically possible to work without making hypotheses, and even the supposed "Zeteticist" Rowbotham did, in fact, come up with hypotheses first and then looked at whether the results falsify them.

For example, check out this video that gets constantly posted by new users. Every single one of the "reasons" it provides for the Earth being a globe presupposes a globular Earth, yet it is still proudly cited as if it sounds the death knell of our Society and the channel that produced it is still afforded acclaim and respect. In this way, "science" has been reduced to a crass game of confirming the precedent. It's embarrassing.

What do you mean "presupposes"? Technically, most of the reasons it gives presuppose an earth that is an euclidean plane and then show how observations do not match this. Obviously the video frames all it's points in terms of positive proof, but most of them actually refute a flat earth instead of outright proving a round one (the stars, circumnavigation, movement of the sun etc.). But the core of this point you raise goes back to my opening post as well. You seem to claim that working with hypotheses is somehow wrong. But apart from confirmation bias, which is indeed something people are taught to watch out for in experimental design, how does a hypothesis distort the result, and how does the alternative work? So far I have seen a criticism of science from two posters, but no-one has actually told me how the alternative works in either theory or practice.


Offline Pete Svarrior

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Re: Zeteticism - how exactly does it work
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2016, 03:46:34 PM »
So, the site with a Zetetic council board cannot at all tell me anything about Zeteticism?
Have you considered finding out what the Zetetic Council is before saying this? Because it's a very silly thing to say.
Read the FAQ before asking your question - chances are we already addressed it.
Follow the Flat Earth Society on Twitter and Facebook!

P.S.  All of us illiterate folks understood this the first time.

Re: Zeteticism - how exactly does it work
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2016, 05:11:40 AM »
It would involve observing in real-time, without any sort of intermediary (including a video feed, which may be tampered with), and being able to do so at will, involving free and repeated access. I suppose its only value is perceiving reality as accurately as possible (if you care about that sort of thing).

But does it make you as accurate as possible? Doesn't it mean that you exclude 99.9% of all the information available to you based on the vague notion that maybe, possibly they are tampered with? What if one of those pieces includes the critical information? Based on direct observation alone, you might for example conclude that "this snake here" isn't poisonous because you only ever saw it bite one person directly, and that person was fine. But in fact the snake is very poisonous and your mistake will kill you.

And that isn't even going into how your own senses may also be fooled easily. It seems to me given the mindset that "everything could be fake", we cannot know anything.

Many of these are inaccessible to the general public though - someone like you or I wouldn't have the means to conduct them. This is where deference to specific institutions comes into play.

Are you suggesting that only experiments that can be done with kitchen utensils found in every household (by the way, is this worldwide or limited to one country?) are admissible? How do you propose we find out about, say the constituents of matter, or how the human body works, using that standard?

And can you give examples of important experimental results that we are told about, but that are inaccessible to the public? Because I can't think of any off the top of my hat. Most of the physics used on this forum, for example, is available via simple google search.

Dr. Rowbotham did not formulate a hypothesis. He asked a question ("Is the surface of standing water level?") and then performed an experiment to determine the answer. Further conclusions were able to be drawn from there.

It's your word against the wiki. And you still cannot explain me how he did that. Let's start with the easiest question: Why did he ask that specific question?

First of all, none of them refute a Flat Earth.

Of course not ;)

Secondly, the presuppositions I was referring to are tautological; essentially, we know the Earth is a globe because it is. Take reason #7:

"If you walk ten thousand kilometers straight along the Earth's surface, turn ninety degrees to your right, walk ten thousand kilometers more, turn right again, and walk another ten thousand kilometers, you'll be back to where you started, having successfully created a triangle with three ninety degree angles. As any geometry student can tell you, this is impossible on a flat surface."

Being able to do that on a ball apparently means you can do the same with the Earth. Why? Because it's also a ball. Brilliant. That isn't even an argument, let alone a reason we know the Earth to be round. The only way you could possibly think that is if you'd already accepted the conclusion.

I don't understand what your problem is with the proof. You can do the stated experiment (directly and personally even) and discover that if you make three right-angle turns, you arrive back at your starting position. This means the earth's surface cannot be an euclidean plane. Obviously if you think the video simply makes up these facts, it doesn't prove anything, but then it wouldn't matter what the video says in the first place. But excluding that, the video gives you the experimental procedure, the expected result, and the theory that explains the result. What more do you want?

You may be right that the differences between the two methods are relatively small, but this does not mean they are negligible. Small differences can have great consequences. You need only look at the end product of both systems - one produced Round Earth Theory and the other produced Flat Earth Theory. If you want the practical result of cutting out the hypothesis stage, there it is.

But, as you say, this is a difference in results. I asked for a difference in method. One does not allow you to deduce the other.
I will try stating the question as precisely as possible: Given the same observations and the same capacity for logical thinking, how do Zeteticism and science arrive at different results given that in both methods, observation is the sole measure of truth?

Re: Zeteticism - how exactly does it work
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2016, 07:30:51 AM »
It would be excluded if it could not be verified, whatever the percentage of the information.

What do you mean by verified? Theories are verified, not observations.

A common criticism of the Zetetic position is that it is an unduly and impractically skeptical one. In reality, we hold some of the same basic assumptions that modern science does. We assume the universe does indeed exist and that we can learn things about it via our senses, fallible as they may be. We simply make more of an effort to limit any further assumptions.

But the scientific method has an actual argument behind why it draws the line and where it draws it. What argument can Zeteicism offer?

There is actually quite a lot more at our disposal than kitchen utensils these days. Even Dr. Rowbotham, working in the 19th century, had access to more than that. I was referring to things that are literally out of this world, like satellites or space shuttles.

What is the definition of "things out of this world" and why are they inadmissible?

I don't see anything on the wiki page that contradicts me.

The wiki page states:
He [Rowbotham] devised the Bedford Level Experiment to determine whether the surface of water is convex, reasoning that if the water is not convex the earth cannot be a sphere.

emphasis mine.

He had already reasoned that his experiment would falsify the round earth hypothesis. Obviously that means he had already formulated that hypothesis.

It's in our wiki. You can read about Dr. Rowbotham's experiments in various other places online, including in his own words. The full text of Zetetic Astronomy is freely available.

I asked you to explain. Not tell me that it is explained, but to do the explaining. Either you cannot or you will not explain, which is it?

Because he wanted to know the answer.

He wanted to know a random piece of information? What a curious occurence. He even set up an entire experiment on a random whim.

I can assert that a triangle with three right angles is unable to be formed through that procedure because the Earth is flat. What now? We're at an impasse because the experiment is impossible to actually perform. It's purely theoretical and not a "reason" for us to know the shape of the Earth. All it proves is the preconceived notions of the individual submitting the claim.

How is the experiment impossible? Are you claiming it's impossible to travel 10.000km in a straight line three times? There is plenty of airliners that can fly legs of 10.000km. Or you take a patch of the pacific ocean and do it with a boat. Or are aircraft and boats now also "out of this world"?

But you don't even need any of that. You can just take some very sensitive measuring devices and do it on a much smaller scale.

Clearly, observation is not the sole measure of truth for science. The capacity for logical thinking is suspect as well, in my opinion.

Ah, so your brain used not-logic to reason that logic is suspect? I wonder how that works.

Re: Zeteticism - how exactly does it work
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2016, 05:38:41 AM »
We were discussing scientific theories, were we not?

No, we weren't. We were discussing how Zeteticism throws out 99,9% of observations without any sort of argument.

If a higher standard of truth is of no value, I feel that there is probably no argument that could satisfy you.

It is, you just don't actually have a higher standard of truth.

You've clearly found your salvation already.

Well, obviously. You're certainly not making me doubt.

They would constitute things that are beyond our reach here on Earth.

I seem to recall Spaceshuttles spend most of their time on earth. But it's good to know that almost all of modern physics is admissible as evidence.

If we have no access to the tools with which the information is gathered, why should we accept it?

Why not? How do you propose you get access to, say, the LHC?

Where does it say he assumed the falsification of a Round Earth? His reasoning on what particular results would indicate does not constitute a hypothesis.

But it does. That's exactly what a hpyothesis is for.

Why should I type out explanations that have already been typed out and are able to be found by anyone caring enough to spend two minutes searching? Either you are too lazy or you're actually looking to waste my time, which is it?

Talk about wasting time. You came here, into this thread I made, which has a question in it's title, and further, more precise questions in the OP without any intention of actually answering my questions. I mean it's not like I expected anything other than dancing around and evading my questions, but you could at least have been creative about it. Bog standard internet trolling really is a waste of time.

For some people, knowledge is an end in itself. There doesn't need to be an ulterior motive.

Unfortunately, random information isn't knowledge.

I guess we'll never know.

But now we at least know the limit of your ability to come up with witty rejoinders.

I was referring to the logic of RET proponents.

Fair enough, I thought I might have misinterpreted that.

Re: Zeteticism - how exactly does it work
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2016, 04:31:37 AM »
Again, only those claims which cannot endure basic scrutiny are dismissed.

What do claims have to do with anything? Do you know what the term "observation" means?

Yeah, but they tend not to be all that active while they're here.

Which I am sure is relevant, somehow...

I wouldn't even bother trying. That's another perfect example of what I'm talking about.

You were talking about how you won't even bother trying to substantiate your points?

Indeed, I should have known better. Like every other globularist that comes here making demands of us, you have zero interest in actually learning anything. I've pointed you in the direction of the answers you pretend to want, but you just stamp your feet and demand to be spoon-fed while implying I'm either unaccommodating or ignorant if I refuse.

You haven't pointed me anywhere. You haven't even given me a link. All you did was vaguely reference the wiki (which I already looked at and which doesn't contain the information I asked for) and an entire book. Yes, you are unacommodating if you think vaguely citing a book counts as helping.

If information isn't passed down to you from on high, you don't know what to do - the product of your brain soaking in the brine of "science" your whole life.

I asked you, specifically. You aren't some kind of high authority, but you are either unwilling or unable to give me any information.

You whined when we didn't ask "how high?" after you ordered us to jump, and now you're insulting the one person who went out of their way to participate in a back-and-forth discussion with you. It's precisely the anticipation of this attitude that made others here reluctant to engage with this thread. Your one accomplishment is vindicating their lack of interest.

Again, you came here to this thread. I did not order you to do anything. If you didn't want to help, you shouldn't have come. What I find insulting is that you continue to waste my time with pointless banter. If no one here is willing or able to have a honest debate, that just shows the state of your "society".

If you get enough of it, it ceases to be random. It's information first, knowledge second. That's science turned on its head, I know.

It's epistemology turned on it's head, to be precise. I suppose I am simply to take this as word of god and consider the elegant and immense works of Hume and Kant to be disproven?

I'll save my quality zingers for a worthier adversary, thanks.

Whatever you think best. I wouldn't be too picky though, there might not come another chance.

Re: Zeteticism - how exactly does it work
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2016, 09:48:16 AM »
The whole point is to observe them at work.

They were designed, build and tested on the ground. There is plenty of observations to choose from. But you, of course, dismiss them as inadmissible.

You have the key words and presumably access to Google. Dr. Rowbotham's experiments are laid out very clearly (with accompanying diagrams) in Zetetic Astronomy. The entirety of the book should still be the top result of a search for that title. Why wouldn't you know that if you truly cared to follow up on this discussion? The answer, of course, is that you don't.

Ah, so if I don't put in the work, it means I don't care to have a honest discussion. But the same standard doesn't apply to you, even though you claim to already know how to find the answer.

It's rather like a Kindergarten game. "I know, but I won't tell you."

Your posturing might mean more if you hadn't been petulant and rude from the get-go. I'm free to respond to your thread just as you were free to start it. The fact that I didn't simply confirm your preconceived notions about the Earth, Zeteticism, and our Society doesn't mean I'm being unhelpful. I realize that Rowbotham having posed a hypothesis all along was the crux of your argument and that you're agitated over it having collapsed after being gently poked, but how about reserving a little dignity? Insult me if you absolutely must, just please leave the Society out of it.

Internet trolling 101: When faced with counterpoints, simply repeat the claim and act as if you had already won the argument.

Honestly, a bit of creativity wouldn't hurt.

But it's good to know that asking questions is being rude and petulant, while quoting only parts of posts and ignoring what you cannot address is apparently fair and honest debating. It explains a lot about how discussions around here go.