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The Matthew Gong Letter


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22 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Your argument is an instance of the informal fallacy of moving the goal posts. 
 

In all but the rarest of instances, when it is said that 2 + 2 = 4, the unspoken assumption by all parties present is that a decimal system is implied. To unilaterally and arbitrarily change the frame of reference to a binary rather than a decimal base amounts to changing the terms of reference. The terms of the statement are thus changed, not the truth itself. Truth remains absolute conceptually. 

It's not a logical fallacy when the goal posts are themselves the point. The whole "what is truth" discussion is precisely about terms of reference. When pointing out that goal posts / our personal frames of reference are not universal, it seems odd to then be accused of moving said goal posts.

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1 hour ago, rchorse said:

It's not a logical fallacy when the goal posts are themselves the point. The whole "what is truth" discussion is precisely about terms of reference. When pointing out that goal posts / our personal frames of reference are not universal, it seems odd to then be accused of moving said goal posts.

That’s the point. Frames of reference and terms do not comprise truth. Truth is independent of the terms some might use to describe it. It remains truth regardless of how the terms are changed. The sum of 2 + 2  will always remain what it is regardless of the numbering system applied to it. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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On 11/9/2019 at 9:48 AM, california boy said:
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2+2=4.

Donald Trump is currently the President of the United States.

I am a lawyer licensed to practice law in the State of Utah.

The earth is an oblate spheroid.

I assume you believe the Book of Mormon to be true.  

Yes.  "Believe" being the operative word there.

Meanwhile, I notice you did not dispute the "truth" of the above four statements.

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99% of the world does not believe the book to be true.  

The vast majority of the world has little to no familiarity with the book.  Their lack of belief has no bearing on its truthfulness.

For those who have studied the book and come to believe it is not true, there is a difference of opinion, but not a difference of truth.

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So is it true?  Or is it your truth.  

I invite you to consider the difference between differences of opinion versus differences of truth.  The former is an everyday kind of thing, the latter doesn't really exist.  

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Is there a living prophet?

I believe so.

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Was Christ the Son of God?

I believe so.

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Was the Book of Abraham written by Abraham himself?

Not sure what you mean.

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While they all may be your truth, it can not be compared to 2+2 =4.  

Yes, they can.  

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99% of the world would say your truth is not true at all.  It doesn't mean it is not your truth.

Meh.  I reject the notion that "truth" is a popularity contest.  Truth exists independently of our acceptance or non-acceptance of it.

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Of all the people on this board who has a lot of "your own truths",

That's not me.  You can peruse my many thousands of posts and not find any that speak of "my truth."

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it is ironic that you would be attacking, once again, someone who had a different point of view that is every bit true to them as your own truths.  

"A different point of view" being the key phrase there.

2+2=4 is not "my truth."  It is the truth.

Joseph Smith being a prophet of God is my belief, my opinion.  I necessarily qualify this as "truth" because I recognize that reasonable minds can and do have different beliefs about it.  But that speaks to differences of opinion/belief, not differences of truth.

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What is my truth is you pretty much attack anyone who has a different "truth" than you.  

I differentiate between perception and reality. 

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Sometimes listening and trying to understand a different point of view might be more important than trying to always shoehorn others into your own belief system.

I read the letter in question.  2-3 times, actually.  I listened.

And I'm not trying to "shoehorn" anyone into my "belief system."

Thanks,

-Smac

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19 hours ago, california boy said:

I don't think those that believe in personal truth reject the idea of absolute truth.  Can you point to anyone making such a claim?

"Personal truth" is per se non-absolute.  That's what modifying "truth" with "person" does.  

-Smac

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18 hours ago, Fether said:

The matter of religion. There either is or isn’t a God.

Yes.  But our perspectives on that are finite.  Blinkered.  We cannot objectively/empirically establish the existence or non-existence of God.  Hence we have mere perspectives.  Opinions.  Points of view.

An opinion may or may not properly reflect, or overlap with, "truth."  Hence we "walk by faith."

18 hours ago, Fether said:

And he either does or does not have laws and expectations. Yet this concept on relative truth cares little of the answers and chooses to focus on and put more weight on individual experience.

I think "relative truth" is a deeply problematic concept.  No wonder, then, that Lehi spoke of, or alluded to, it:

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13 And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.

14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.

So did Isaiah:

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Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

So did Joseph Smith:

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24 And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;

25 And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.

So did Korihor:

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And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime.

"Truth is whatever you want it to be" just doesn't work.

Thanks,

-Smac

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18 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

This is like my answer to the question, "if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?" I say no, it doesn't make sound. It creates vibrations in the air, sure, but vibrations in the air are not sound. They may cause sound, but sound is what we consciously experience because of vibrations.

So an event does not actually occur unless someone is there to perceive it?

Are you sure?

Thanks,

-Smac

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Here is a thought exercise for those who subscribe to the "relative truth" or "my truth" paradigm:

  • Statement A: The earth is spherical in shape.  More precisely, the earth is an "oblate spheroid."
  • Statement B: The earth's shape is a plane or disc.  This position is presently taken by a number of groups throughout the world.

Do you accept proponents of Statement B as speaking "truth"?

Do you characterize Statement B as "their {they proponents of it} truth"?

Do you put Statement B on equal footing (as in having equal validity) with Statement A?  Why or why not?

Thanks,

-Smac

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45 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Here is a thought exercise for those who subscribe to the "relative truth" or "my truth" paradigm:

  • Statement A: The earth is spherical in shape.  More precisely, the earth is an "oblate spheroid."
  • Statement B: The earth's shape is a plane or disc.  This position is presently taken by a number of groups throughout the world.

Do you accept proponents of Statement B as speaking "truth"?

Do you characterize Statement B as "their {they proponents of it} truth"?

Do you put Statement B on equal footing (as in having equal validity) with Statement A?  Why or why not?

Thanks,

-Smac

All fields of study require a bit of bootstrapping. If we accept the fundamental axioms of science then it is indeed true that the earth is a sphere. This fact is objectively available to anyone who accepts sciences fundamental axioms. 
 

Matters of religion and god on the other hand are not objectively available to all and are entirely based on one’s subjective experience. Hence they fall within the realm of personal truth. 
 

Now God either exists or She doesn’t, but She has specifically chosen not to reveal Herself in a systematic way that would be available to us mortals (unlike the idea of a spherical earth). So Her existence while not relative cannot be spoken of in the same way as 2+2=4. 

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24 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:
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Here is a thought exercise for those who subscribe to the "relative truth" or "my truth" paradigm:

  • Statement A: The earth is spherical in shape.  More precisely, the earth is an "oblate spheroid."
  • Statement B: The earth's shape is a plane or disc.  This position is presently taken by a number of groups throughout the world.

Do you accept proponents of Statement B as speaking "truth"?

Do you characterize Statement B as "their {they proponents of it} truth"?

Do you put Statement B on equal footing (as in having equal validity) with Statement A?  Why or why not?

All fields of study require a bit of bootstrapping. If we accept the fundamental axioms of science then it is indeed true that the earth is a sphere. This fact is objectively available to anyone who accepts sciences fundamental axioms. 

Well, not quite.  I think the shape of the earth is not "self-evidently true" (that being the definition of an "axiom").  The shape of the earth has been discerned through evidence.  It became axiomatic because of the evidence.

24 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Matters of religion and god on the other hand are not objectively available to all and are entirely based on one’s subjective experience.

I disagree.  Either God exists, or God does not exist.  This existence or non-existence is entirely independent of our personal perspectives on the matter.

24 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Hence they fall within the realm of personal truth. 

I disagree.  The "truth" is out there.  Our ability to perceive it and establish it as such is finite.

24 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Now God either exists or She doesn’t, but She has specifically chosen not to reveal Herself in a systematic way that would be available to us mortals (unlike the idea of a spherical earth).

I agree.  

24 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

So Her existence while not relative cannot be spoken of in the same way as 2+2=4. 

Statement A: 2+2 does equal 4, or it does not equal 4.

Statement B: God exists, or God does not exist.

Statement A has a truth, and an untruth.  Statement B has a truth, and an untruth.

We can reach a definitive and empirical conclusion about the "truthful" proposition in Statement A.

We cannot reach a definitive and empirical conclusion about the "truthful" proposition in Statement B.

Thanks,

-Smac

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8 hours ago, rchorse said:

I find the 2+2=4 example to be very good, actually. 2+2 only equals 4 if you're working in decimal notation (base 10). If you are working in binary, then the exact same numbers would be expressed as 10+10=100. In binary, that equation is exactly as "true" as 2+2=4 is in decimal. Under base 3, you would get 2+2=11.

So, it really does come down to a frame of reference and how you perceive the inputs you are given. These are all just ways of describing concepts. I personally believe in absolute truth, but I can only come closer to it through personal experience, which always adds a certain percentage of error to the mix.

I think the only truths that are absolute are ones that always work as stated.

Really though these end up being tautologies.

It is an absolute truth that an unsupported object in thin air will fall, but really that is a circular point because what we mean by the word fall is what happens when an object is not supported.

The Earth is a sphere because what the word sphere means is the shape of the Earth. 

I'm always fascinated by Genesis chapter one because it says that God called the the combination of one evening and one morning "the first day".

Yep, that defines the word all right!

All of these words really only make sense in terms of Human Experience, they require a human context

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

Well, not quite.  I think the shape of the earth is not "self-evidently true" (that being the definition of an "axiom").  The shape of the earth has been discerned through evidence.  It became axiomatic because of the evidence.

Difference in terminology. I used the term axiom to mean a non provable fundamental assumption. In order for science to work we have to assume the world is objective, orderly, and comprehensible. There is no way to prove this. We have to assume it. If we accept this initial premise, we can indeed prove the earth is a Sphere. 

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I disagree.  Either God exists, or God does not exist.  This existence or non-existence is entirely independent of our personal perspectives on the matter.

I don’t disagree with this. My point is that unlike science where all it takes is a few simple assumptions to get started, God is not observable in the same way. Scientists the world over get the same boiling point of water. Religionists the world over have only their personal testimonies of their subjective experience. Their experiences are real and true for them, but do not allow us to discern the true nature of God. 

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I disagree.  The "truth" is out there.  Our ability to perceive it and establish it as such is finite.

I don’t disagree with this. 

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I agree.  

Statement A: 2+2 does equal 4, or it does not equal 4.

Statement B: God exists, or God does not exist.

Statement A has a truth, and an untruth.  Statement B has a truth, and an untruth.

We can reach a definitive and empirical conclusion about the "truthful" proposition in Statement A.

We cannot reach a definitive and empirical conclusion about the "truthful" proposition in Statement B.

As I don’t disagree with anything here, it appears that we are in agreement for the most part. 

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Thanks,

-Smac

-John

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2 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Difference in terminology. I used the term axiom to mean a non provable fundamental assumption. 

I checked a few online definitions. None of those I checked say an axiom is “non-provable,” though they are consistent with the rest of your definition, that an axiom is a “fundamental assumption.” 
 

<Self-evident,> perhaps, would be a more apt descriptor than “non-provable.” 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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19 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I checked a few online definitions. None of those I checked say an axiom is “non-provable,” though they are consistent with the rest of your definition, that an axiom is a “fundamental assumption.” 
 

<Self-evident,> perhaps, would be a more descriptor than “non-provable.” 

See wiki:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiom

An axiom or postulate is a statement that is taken to be true, to serve as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments.

And:

Any axiom is a statement that serves as a starting point from which other statements are logically derived. Whether it is meaningful (and, if so, what it means) for an axiom to be "true" is a subject of debate in the philosophy of mathematics.[6]

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3 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

See wiki:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiom

An axiom or postulate is a statement that is taken to be true, to serve as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments.

And:

Any axiom is a statement that serves as a starting point from which other statements are logically derived. Whether it is meaningful (and, if so, what it means) for an axiom to be "true" is a subject of debate in the philosophy of mathematics.[6]

I don’t dispute any of this. But it doesn’t say that an axiom is “non-provable.” A thing can still be provable, even when it is “taken to be true to serve as a premise.” 

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6 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I don’t dispute any of this. But it doesn’t say that an axiom is “non-provable.” A thing can still be provable, even when it is “taken to be true to serve as a premise.” 

“Whetheit is meaningful (and, if so, what it means) for an axiom to be "true" is a subject of debate”

Regardless, (or irregardless if it makes you smile ;)) hopefully my meaning is understood now that I clarified. In order for science and math to work, we have to make some very basic assumptions which are not provable by themselves. 

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3 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

“Whetheit is meaningful (and, if so, what it means) for an axiom to be "true" is a subject of debate”

Regardless, (or irregardless if it makes you smile ;)) hopefully my meaning is understood now that I clarified. In order for science and math to work, we have to make some very basic assumptions which are not provable by themselves. 

This still doesn’t say that an axiom is necessarily non-provable. 

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10 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

 

By the way, to be grammatically correct, you should have phrased your question as “Who is blackmailing <whom>”. <Who> in the first position is a subject and therefore takes the subjective form. <Whom> in the second position is an object and therefore takes the objective form. 

Actually no. Despite the fact that you somehow think you own the English language, I don’t know a single person irl that uses “whom” except for when they are making fun of someone who thinks a bit too much of themselves. Much like the singular they, the loss of hither and thither, the informal thou, language changes and evolves. Get over it. 
 

From Bill Bryson:

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English has been shedding its pronoun declension for hundreds of years; today who is the only relative pronoun that is still declinable. Preserving the distinction between who and whom does nothing to promote clarity or reduce ambiguity. It has become merely a source of frequent errors and perpetual uncertainty. Authorities have been tossing stones at whom for at least 200 years. -Noah Webster was one of the first to call it needless- but the word refuses to go away. (Bryson 1984: 216)”

On the other hand we have Robert Lowth. He’s on your side. He also fought for the survival of Sitten (sat), spitten (spat), wert (was) and Chicken as a plural (I have two Chicken)

To further make the point on how absurd it is to correct grammar that is used by the majority of English speakers, I offer the following from linguist Steven Pinker:

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Imagine that you are watching a nature documentary. The video shows the usual gorgeous footage of animals in their natural habitats. But the voiceover reports some troubling facts. Dolphins do not execute their swimming strokes properly. White-crowned sparrows carelessly debase their calls. Chickadees' nests are incorrectly constructed, pandas hold bamboo in the wrong paw, the song of the humpback whale contains several well-known errors, and monkeys' cries have been in a state of chaos and degeneration for hundreds of years. Your reaction would probably be, What on earth could it mean for the song of the humpback whale to contain an "error"? Isn't the song of the humpback whale whatever the humpback whale decides to sing? Who is this announcer, anyway?

http://malingual.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-false-gods-of-grammar.html

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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21 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

This still doesn’t say that an axiom is necessarily non-provable. 

“One interesting question is where to start from. How do you prove the first theorem, if you don’t know anything yet? Unfortunately you can’t prove something using nothing. You need at least a few building blocks to start with, and these are called Axioms.

Mathematicians assume that axioms are true without being able to prove them.“

Note I fully understand this is not the only way to use the term. Hence my clarification. 
 

https://mathigon.org/world/Axioms_and_Proof

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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12 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Actually no. Despite the fact that you somehow think you own the English language, I don’t know a single person irl that uses “whom” except for when they are making fun of someone who thinks a bit too much of themselves.

In that case (referring to the part I bolded above) I think you need to widen (and perhaps improve) your circle of acquaintances. 

As Miserere Nobis quite astutely pointed out the other day, whom as a pronoun in the objective case fills a role that is comparable to other object pronouns such as him, her and them. I don't know of any well-educated or careful speaker or writer who consciously uses the pronouns he, she or they where the object forms of those words ought to be used. 

And most any reputable source on grammar will offer instruction on the use of whom. Here's a typical example.

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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12 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

This still doesn’t say that an axiom is necessarily non-provable. 

In order to prove an axiom, however, you must rely on *some*  other axiom, or some assumptions other than that axiom you want to prove.

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3 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

In that case (referring to the part I bolded above) I think you need to widen (and perhaps improve) your circle of acquaintances. 

As Miserere Nobis quite astutely pointed out the other day, whom as a pronoun in the objective case fills a role that is comparable to other object pronouns such as him, her and them. I don't know of any well-educated or careful speaker or writer who consciously uses the pronouns he, she or they where the object forms of those words ought to be used. 

And most any reputable source on grammar will offer instruction on the use of whom. Here's a typical example.

You are so silly* Scott!

Don’t forget the dative case, in which it is proper to use wham:

“Wham did you give my book”

As a side note, given that you apparently knew I don’t view “who” as a mistake, why did you think it prudent to “correct” me again? At any rate I will no longer respond to this train wreck of a thread derail so have the last word if you like. 

 

*I am of course using silly here with its original and only truly proper meaning of happy, blissful, lucky or blessed. 

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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