Morton's Demon

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by juantoo3, Mar 4, 2022.

  1. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    I learned recently that a favorite scholar passed away:

    I've quoted Mr Morton on more than one occasion, even many years ago here on this site. He was able to bring both science and faith together in a way that made sense. I didn't agree with everything, but I can say without reservation he made me think.

    To that end, I wish to post one of his thought experiment essays to honor him and to keep this lesson present and available.

    Morton's Demon:

    "Maxwell suggested a famous demon which could violate the laws of thermodynamics. The demon, sitting between two rooms, controls a gate between the two rooms. When the demon sees a speedy molecule coming his way (from room A), he opens the gate and lets the speedy molecule leave the room and when he sees a slow molecule coming at the gate (from room A), he holds it closed. Oppositely, when he sees a speedy molecule coming at the gate from room B he closes the gate but when he sees a slow molecule from room B coming toward the gate he opens it. In this way, the demon segregates the fast moving molecules into one room from the slow ones in the other. Since temperature of a gas is related to the velocity of the molecules, the demon would increase the temperature of room B and cool room A without any expenditure of energy. And since a temperature difference can be used to create useful work, the demon would create a perpetual motion machine.

    Maxwell's demon was shown to fail by Szilard who showed that the demon needed to use light (and expend energy) to determine a fast molecule from a slow one. This energy spent to collect information meant that the demon couldn't violate the 2nd law.

    The reason I mention this is because I realized tonight that the YECs have a demon of their own. In a conversation with a YEC, I mentioned certain problems which he needed to address. Instead of addressing them, he claimed that he didn't have time to do the research. With other YECs, I have found that this is not the case (like with sds@mp3.com who refused my offer to discuss the existence of the geologic column by stating "It's on my short list of topics to pursue here. It's not up next, but perhaps before too long." Message-ID: a3bv4t$v2m$1@slb1.atl.mindspring.net ) And with other YECs, they claim lack of expertise to evaluate the argument and thus won't make a judgment about the validity of the criticism. Still other YECs refuse to read things that might disagree with them.

    Thus was born the realization that there is a dangerous demon on the loose. When I was a YEC, I had a demon that did similar things for me that Maxwell's demon did for thermodynamics. Morton's demon was a demon who sat at the gate of my sensory input apparatus and if and when he saw supportive evidence coming in, he opened the gate. But if he saw contradictory data coming in, he closed the gate. In this way, the demon allowed me to believe that I was right and to avoid any nasty contradictory data. Fortunately, I eventually realized that the demon was there and began to open the gate when he wasn't looking.

    However, my conversations have made me aware that each YEC is a victim of my demon. Morton's demon makes it possible for a person to have his own set of private facts which others are not privy to, allowing the YEC to construct a theory which is perfectly supported by the facts which the demon lets through the gate. And since these are the only facts known to the victim, he feels in his heart that he has explained everything. Indeed, the demon makes people feel morally superior and more knowledgeable than others.

    The demon makes its victim feel very comfortable as there is no contradictory data in view. The demon is better than a set of rose colored glasses. The demon's victim does not understand why everyone else doesn't fall down and accept the victim's views. After all, the world is thought to be as the victim sees it and the demon doesn't let through the gate the knowledge that others don't see the same thing. Because of this, the victim assumes that everyone else is biased, or holding those views so that they can keep their job, or, in an even more devious attack by my demon, they think that their opponents are actually demon possessed themselves or sons of Satan. This is a devious demon!

    He can make people think that the geologic column doesn't exist even if one posts examples on the internet. He can make people believe that radioactive dating doesn't work even if you show them comparisons of tree rings compared to radiocarbon dating. He can make people ignore layer after layer of footprints and burrows in the geologic column (see http://www.flash.net/~mortongr/burrow.jpg ) and believe that burrowing can occur and animals can walk around unimpeded during a global flood. He can make people think that the sun is shrinking, that the stars are all within 6000 light years of the earth, or that God made pictures in that light of events which never happened. He can make people believe that fossils aren't the remains of animals and are 'petrifactions' placed there by the devil. He can make people ignore modern measurements of continental motion, stellar formation, or biological speciation. He can make people believe that 75,000 feet of sediment over an area 200 by 100 miles can be deposited in a few hundred years, and he can make people believe that Noah trained animals to poop into buckets on command. He can make people deny transitional forms which have traits clearly halfway between two groups. This is a dangerous demon.

    But one thing that those unaffected by this demon don't understand is that the victim is not lying about the data. The demon only lets his victim see what the demon wants him to see and thus the victim, whose sensory input is horribly askew, feels that he is totally honest about the data. The victim doesn't know that he is the host to an evil parasite and indeed many of their opponents don't know that as well since the demon is smart enough to be too small to be seen.

    But unlike Maxwell's demon, Morton's demon doesn't expend any energy--he gets his victim to expend it for him. He can get his victim to expend massive amounts of intellectual energy figuring out how to convince the world that they are wrong. The victim will spend hours reading supportive books or searching through scientific literature noting only those portions which support the YEC position. And the victim will spend lots of energy trying to convince others to come see things the way they do. Thus, the demon gets its victims to spend energy to help it spread the infection.

    The demon drives his victim to go to YEC conventions so that the demon can rest. By making his victim be with those equally afflicted, the demon doesn't have to shut the door or even be watchful. This is because it allows the demon time to rest when all that is in the room is supportive data. For the victim, there is comfort in numbers even if they are few.

    Those who try to help the poor victims escape the ravages of Morton's demon wear themselves out typing e-mails explaining data and facts which never get through the demon's gate. After years of weariness, the philanthropic individual dies of fatigue. This is oh so devilish a situation!"

    ref: The Talk.Origins Archive Post of the Month: February 2002 (talkorigins.org)

    YEC = Young Earth Creationist
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2022
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  2. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    It would seem in the past few years that Morton's Demon has branched out, and now infects a great deal of "scientific" discourse.

    How often do we now hear, "if you don't agree with me, you don't agree with science!?"
     
  3. powessy

    powessy Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for this story it is so interesting to me. I talk with these demons all the time, I hear voices 24/7 for the last eight years.

    It is much simpler then Morten suggests to understand these demons. To understand this you just need to follow our mitochondria evolution. From the time you start to figure yourself out as a child, you start to form mitochondria yourselves, I refer to them as top hats. We wear many hats in our lives, such as for me, son, husband, father, brother, chef, fabricator, driver, exerciser, thinker, mechanic, programmer, electrician, carpenter, and many other things. The point here is that from a young age we are creating mitochondria yourselves. Our mitochondrial evolution allowed us to adapt much quicker to a changing world.

    In order to become a top hat through this new thing you are becoming, it has to become itself many times to form a top hat. You see the problem it takes time to learn something new but once you learn it, it can find time here all the time. In their words, it has to make since to who you are to find time here. If it doesn’t make sense to who you are then it might not become something here.

    I have tried to group these mitochondria yourselves into two main groups, in motion and at rest, then there is the spiritual yourself that is not inside yourself.

    Here is the interesting thing they seem to be mimicking the veil trying to become themselves not ourselves. With out our mitochondria becoming us in death we can’t become ourselves again. Parasitic or symbiotic?

    powessy
     
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  4. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    I enjoy your thoughts on these concepts, and agree on the general sentiment of people contracting defensively or offensively, in fear, around what they think they know for sure - but may be missing the crucial point, possibly because I am focussing on the "thought experiment about a perpetual motion machine" aspect of Maxwell's Demon.

    The way I understand Maxwell's Demon, is that it is a confirmation of the laws of thermodynamics, using quantum mechanics to explain how these laws hold, refuting perpetual motion.

    My question is, is Morton's Demon, by analogy, also a thought experiment about some general principle, and if so which one? Am I completely on the wrong track?
     
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  5. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Morton's Demon, by analogy, suggests how so many people "hear what they want to hear, and disregard the rest" as the old song by Paul Simon went. Understandable outside of a scholarly study, but indefensible within a scholarly study. Confirmation bias while burying or refusing contradictory information is not scholarship.

    That is my takeaway, your mileage may vary.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2022
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  6. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    Ah, thanks, so there is no observation analogous to Szilard's.

    Like I said, I enjoy the illustration of confirmation bias and echo chambers.
     
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  7. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Perhaps only to wipe the dust from one's feet as one walks away shaking one's head in incredulity...
     

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