The reliability of the senses

Don’t be so obtuse. Observations are immediate perceptions.

Earlier in this thread I made the claim that humans (uniquely among the animals) are born utterly dependent with almost no instinct whatsoever. They can express discomfort, they have a sucking reflex and another anti-choking reflex. There may be evidence that they also instinctively feel a need for human touch (being held). That’s about it. By contrast, other higher-functioning animals are born with substantial instinctive powers and are fairly independent of the mother a lot earlier during their lifespan.

As I’ve noted several times now, the perceived object is directed by the mother. It is not haphazard perception but rather directed (ordered) perception. No infants are free to simply explore the world around them on their own and thereby learn. All infants/toddlers learn communally and only by intentional teaching within the community (most basically, parents and children). Even human perception is directed. As all philosophers know, “perception does not produce belief without appropriate background conditions” (Audi, Robert. Epistemology: a contemporary introduction to the theory of knowledge, Routledge, London and New York, p. 134). Human perception would amount to very little without an underlying conceptual framework. This framework is given to each human first within the family and is later fostered within schools, etc, and always employing language and testimony.

If it were true that arbitrary uttering were all that was occurring in teaching a child then we could expect many things which in fact never happen. First, since the utterance is arbitrary, there is no reason for the mother to use the same sound (utterance) the next time she points out the object to the child. Also, there would not be an expectation that any utterances would “travel” across objects if it’s all arbitrary labeling. Why use the same utterance “red” when pointing to the red circle in the infant book and also to the red blouse? I’ll let Robert Audi answer you here:

Consider teaching a child color words. After a time, the child has learned that the sofa, say, is red…In introducing the word ‘red’ to the child, then, the parent is only incidentally attesting to the proposition that the sofa is red. The point is to pair the word with an instance of what it stands for, with the aim of teaching the child…what the color red is. (Epistemology, p. 141, emphasis mine).

There is another aim of the mother–it’s to teach the child that that particular word refers to something particular in the world.

I do understand your assertions. Perception is “fundamental.” It’s the “root” of “information gathering.” But so far, in response to my sustained arguments and illustrations from actual human learning which demonstrate that the process is necessarily a combinatorial one, you have offered very little to support an opinion of perception as “fundamental” and a “root.” To say nothing of the inherent ambiguity of such claims since you’re not in hurry to define terms…

Again, Robert Audi,

"Formal testimony…is not necessarily witnessing. Testimony of the wider kind - roughly, saying something in an apparent attempt to convey (correct) information - is what plays the large role in our lives… It can help to speak of attesting. This covers both formally testifying that something is so and simply saying, in the relevant informational way, that it is so, for instance in telling someone the time. It also captures the idea of saying something to someone (pp. 130-131).
Testimonially based knowledge is received by transmission… Such knowledge is testimonially passed on by transmission (p. 136).

Again, ambiguity. What is meant by “primary?” We have every reason to believe that the architecture of conceptual frameworks is a necessary condition of arranging and categorizing “percepts.” Without a significant conceptual framework to undergird your act of perception, what would all the percepts amount to? How would you organize them? You organize them now based on a substantial and thoroughgoing worldview which came you via your human community. And the means by which such was supplied to you was a linguistic testimony.

S what? Humans come with a whole lot of intrinsic, built-in knowledge - all residing in the white cells. (Breathing, heartbeat, hunger… etc.) We also have a propensity to learn to speak.

Not true. A toddler will experience pain if burned, even if it is just a happenstance. Looking at some random objects even if they are not “directed” by someone will make new neural connections in the brain - and that is what learning is all about.

Arbitrary is not the same as random. The language is the best example against the universality of PSR. There is no reason why a certain wavelength should be called “red” in English, and “Rot” in German, or “piros” in Hungarian, or krasznij in Russian… etc.

Basic, fundamental. Everything is built upon it. Cannot be deleted without disastrous errors. You still confuse “testimony” with normal usage of uttering words. When you recite a poem, it is not a testimonial. To call every utterance a “testimonial” all you achieve is confusion. If you don’t realize this, we cannot communicate in any meaningful manner.

And I am NOT talking about the basics of learning by a toddler. Our “window” to the world is our senses, even if someone does not have the ways and means to translate the experience into words. Animals who cannot speak nevertheless experience pleasure, pain, hot and cold without linguistic underpinning.

Learning is establishing new neural connections in the brain - nothing else.

False. Let us suppose that there is data on the weight and height of humans 25 - 35 years of age. How would you manipulate the data to show that the average weight is 2 pounds and that the average height is 1/2 inch?

This is totally irrelevant. Everyone has nerve endings to receive information from the external reality. The sensory organs are the eyes, the ears, the skin, the tongue and the taste buds. If someone lacks the eyes, they cannot SEE. If there is a problem with the ears, they cannot HEAR.

Interpreting the signals is separate from receiving them. Of course I am aware why some people would like to include the testimonials as valid source of information. They want to elevate the testimonies as a reliable source of information concerning the antiquities.

Moreover the testimonials must be transmitted via the eyes and/or the ears. Without sensory input you cannot even get access to the testimonials. This is what it means to understand that the sensory signals are the primary source of information. Without the sensory organs there is no information (emanating from the external world) to process.

By redefining the units of measurements, or selecting only those members who fall between the stipulated limits. This is the confirmation bias. :slight_smile:

How many adults do you expect to find that have a height of 1/2 inch?

As many as I want to, if I redefine the units of measurement.

But, of course this is not where the problem lies. The real problem is the confirmation bias, selecting the data which supports the hypothesis and disregarding the rest. Example might be: selecting the biblical verses which “support” one’s conclusion, and disregarding the other ones.

I am afraid that you will not be taken seriously if you don’t know what 1/2 inch is.

The distance of “inch” is arbitrary, and culture driven. But the real point is STILL the selective inclusion / exclusion of data points.

Obviously the idea of using statistics to support EVERYTHING by selecting the proper data points is not a rigorous argument, it is just a way to show that statistics is not “absolute”, but relative.

One inch is more or less a standard measurement equal to about 2.54 cm. Your study will not be taken seriously if you change the standard defined values.

Statistical sampling depends on using random data and not selectively excluding data points.

And this is the reason that statistics cannot be taken too seriously.

I don’t think that redefining an inch to be whatever you personally think it should be is the reason why statistics cannot be taken seriously. Generally, measurement values are not redefined in statistical studies.

It was just one reason, and not even the most important one. Of course it has nothing to do with the reliability of the sensory input provided by the senses.

There are those who misuse statistics dishonestly and of course, their results cannot be trusted. The reliability of statistical sampling will depend on several factors such as whether or not the population is normally distributed and the randomness and unbias of the sampling data. And the end result is usually given with an error estimate for 95% accuracy. But that means that 5% of the time the given result is not going to happen. Statistical methods do seem to work quite well in gambling casinos around the world.

And not just there. Mathematics has a branch called Monte-Carlo methods. For the fun of it, investigate how the value of “PI” can be calculated using a paper with equidistant lines and a needle which is as long as the distance between those lines.

But this STILL has nothing to do with the primacy of senses. Let’s get back to the topic, shall we?

God is so Bright that His Visage could have killed Moses.

Moses was Faithful - but not via his senses.

Senses are not limited to visual signals. The unanswered question is STILL the same: “What else can we use to learn / observe the external reality if not the senses?”

Our Mind and Reason goes a long way

  • especially if we seek God and Truth with an honest and open mind -
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