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July 17, 2016 | 5 Comments

Summary Against Modern Thought: Angels—or Aliens—Did Not Make The World

This may be proved in three ways. The first...
This may be proved in three ways. The first…
See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

Angels, aliens, science, or the “vacuum” cannot create form, and form is necessary to make matter.

Chapter 43 That the distinction among things does not result from some secondary agent introducing forms into matter (alternate translation)

1 CERTAIN modern heretics say that God created the matter of all things visible, but that this was diversified with various forms by an angel. The falseness of this opinion is evident. For the heavenly bodies, wherein no contrariety; is to be found, cannot have been formed from any matter: since whatever is made from pre-existing matter, must needs be made from a contrary. Wherefore it is impossible that any angel should have formed the heavenly bodies from matter previously created by God.

Notes What’s this? The great saint used the H-word? Don’t tell anybody or there’ll be an Internet flap. Interesting, though, that this heresy is found in modern form, e.g. Gaia.

2 Moreover. The heavenly bodies either have no matter in common with the lower bodies, or they only have primary matter in common with them: for the heaven neither is composed of elements, nor is of an elemental nature: which is proved by its movement which differs from that of all the elements. And primary matter could not by itself precede all formed bodies, since it is nothing but pure potentiality, and all actual being is from some form. Therefore it is impossible that an angel should have formed all visible bodies from matter previously created by God.

Notes Don’t forget that angels aren’t made of stuff like we partly are. You will find no angelic dipstick, which is why science is blind to metaphysics. Also recall that prime matter must be married to form to create a material thing. Hence prime matter is “pure potentiality”. Forms, however, can and do and must exist in the mind of God (keep this in your mind in paragraph 4). Matter must have form to exist: everything you see has a form.

3 Again. Everything that is made, is made to be, since making is the way to being. To each thing caused, therefore, it is becoming to be made as it is becoming to be. Now being is not becoming to form alone, nor to matter alone, but to the composite: for matter is merely in potentiality, while form is whereby a thing is, since it is act. Hence it follows that the composite, properly speaking, is. Therefore it belongs to it alone to be made, and not to matter without form. Therefore there is not one agent that creates matter only, and another that induces the form.

4 Again. The first induction of forms into matter cannot be from an agent acting by movement only, for all movement towards a form is from a determinate form towards a determinate form: because matter cannot be without all form, wherefore some form is presupposed in matter. But every agent intending a merely material form must needs be an agent by movement: for since material forms are not subsistent of themselves, and their being is to be in matter, they cannot be brought into being except either by the production of the whole composite, or by the transmutation of matter to this or that form. Therefore it is impossible that the first induction of forms into matter be from someone creating the form only, but it must be from Him Who is the Creator of the whole composite.

5 Further. Movement towards a form comes naturally after local movement: for it is the act of that which is more imperfect, as the Philosopher proves. Now in the natural order things that come afterwards are caused by those which come before. Wherefore movement towards a form is caused by local movement. But the first local movement is the movement of the heaven. Therefore all movement towards a form takes place through the means of the heavenly movement. Hence those things that cannot be made through the means of the heavenly movement, cannot be made by an agent that cannot act except by movement: and such must be the agent that cannot act except by inducing form into matter, as we have proved. Now many sensible forms cannot be produced by the heavenly movement except by means of certain presupposed determinate principles: thus certain animals are not made except from seed. Therefore the original production of these forms, for producing which the heavenly movement is not sufficient without the pre-existence of those forms in the species, must needs proceed from the Creator alone.

6 Again. Just as local movement of part and whole are the same, like that of the whole earth and of one clod, so the change of generation is the same in the part and in the whole. Now the parts of those things that are subject to generation and corruption are generated by acquiring actual forms from forms in matter, and not from forms existing outside matter, since the generator must be like the thing generated, as the Philosopher proves in 7 Metaph. Neither therefore can the total acquisition of forms by matter be effected by any separate substance, such as an angel: but this must be done either by means of a corporeal agent, or by a creative agent, acting without movement.

Notes Betcha didn’t think you’d see the word clod in this book. Recall next that the First Cause is God, as provide in Book 1, Chapter 13.

7 Further. Even as being is first among effects, so does it correspond to the first cause as its proper effect. Now being is by form and not by matter. Therefore the first causation of forms is to be ascribed especially to the first cause.

8 Moreover. Since every agent produces its like, the effect obtains its form from that to which it is likened by the form it acquired: even as the material house acquires its form from the art, which is the likeness of the house in the mind. Now all things are like God Who is pure act, inasmuch as they have forms whereby they become actual: and inasmuch as they desire forms, they are said to desire the divine likeness. Therefore it is absurd to say that the formation of things belongs to another than God the Creator of all.

Notes The line we are “made in God’s image” is starting to make more sense now.

July 16, 2016 | 5 Comments

Stream: Government Lab Has Been Faking Data for Years


Today’s post (more a news report) is at The Stream: Government Lab Has Been Faking Data for Years.

A person or persons at the same US Geological Survey Lab in Lakewood, Colorado have been discovered finagling scientific results. According to a report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the US Department of Interior, the thimblerigging didn’t happen only once or twice, but in many multiple instances and over a long course of time.

In what appears to be a monumental effort at deception or malfeasance or just plain laziness, between 1996-2008 and again between 2008-2014, somebody or some bodies at the Energy Geochemistry Laboratory purposely gave out wrong results from a mass spectrometer (used to identify the chemical constituents in a sample of material)…

USGS spokeswoman Anne-Berry Wade is quoted in the Denver Post explaining why the fraud had gone on so long, especially given the lab was long under suspicion, as saying that “a new lab director took over in 2014 and decided to look into the suspicions.” Wade did not say why the previous director failed to investigate the fraud. She also refused to say if anybody was fired or even punished for any misconduct.

No criminal prosecutions are expected, either. Assistant Inspector General for Investigations Matthew Elliott told The Daily Caller News Foundation, “We conducted a limited scope inspection and, as a result, we had no material that gave us a reason to consult with a U.S. Attorney’s office.” …

More interestingly, Westerman highlighted a curious interview the IG withheld from its report. Westerman said that “a former employee linked to the manipulation” told the IG “Tell me what you want and I will get it for you. What we do is like magic.”…

Don’t be square, go there and read the rest.

July 15, 2016 | 16 Comments

Shocking New Research: Hunger Motivates Eating

Never shop when you're hungry.
Never shop when you’re hungry.

Ladies and gentlemen, the opening line of the peer-reviewed paper “Hunger promotes acquisition of nonfood objects” appearing in the (once) venerable organ Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, by Alison Jing Xu, Norbert Schwarz, and Robert S. Wyer (HT to John Cook for bringing this to our attention):

Hunger can drive people’s responses to food.

Who knew?

Not only can hunger drive people’s responses to food, “Hunger motivates people to consume food, for which finding and acquiring food is a prerequisite.”

Site managers for fast-food franchises and grocery stores take note.

Anyway, that isn’t the real research. This is: “We test whether the acquisition component spills over to nonfood objects: Are hungry people more likely to acquire objects that cannot satisfy their hunger?”

Science did not know the response to this puzzling query before the valiant efforts of our trio. I’ll reveal the shocking answer below, but first it’s important for you to comprehend how important the scientific enterprise is. Without science, and without massive government control of and spending on research—this grant was funded by the “Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada”—humanity would be left in the dark on such monumental questions like whether hungry people are more likely to acquire objects that cannot satisfy their hunger.

As is obvious, it would take a ton of painstaking research to answer the question. That’s what happened here. Our trio did not just do one laboratory and field study, nor only two laboratory and field studies, and not even three laboratory and field studies…but five—count ’em! FIVE—laboratory and field studies.

Now in preparing these arduous studies, our trio first reviewed previous studies on similar topics, where they learned hunger “can increase men’s preference for heavier women, who presumably have richer calorie resources”.

(This reminds me that there is one cannibal joke in this must-have new book: Uncertainty: The Soul of Modeling, Probability & Statistics.)

A word of caution: “The predicted increase in acquisition of nonfood items [drive by hunger] is not necessarily accompanied by increased liking of these items.” This is because there is a “distinction between liking and wanting” and that is because liking and wanting are “processed by different neural substrates…For example, being prevented from obtaining a desired outcome can increase the desire to obtain the outcome while reducing its attractiveness.”

Insert pop-culture reference here: Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.

Now to the meatiness: experiment one.

Study 1 examined whether hunger increases the cognitive accessibility of concepts related to acquisition. Native English speakers (n = 69) performed a word identification task (15). They saw 22 words and 22 nonwords flashing one at a time on a computer screen at a rate of 50 ms, followed by a series of pound (#) signs. Words and nonwords appeared alternately. In each case, participants typed in the word they saw. If they could not identify what they saw, they could either make a guess or type in “X.” Of the 22 words, nine were semantically related to acquisition (e.g., acquire, want, obtain, gain), four were hunger-related words (e.g., hunger, starve, appetite, famine), and the rest were control words (e.g., speak, close, floor, symbol). Upon completion of the task, participants reported how hungry they were along a scale from 0 (not at all) to 10 (very). The likelihood of correctly identifying hunger-related words increased significantly with self-reported hunger (b = 0.024, SE = 0.012, t = 1.99, P = 0.05)…

There you have it. A wee p-value confirms hungriness and hungry-grammar are matched pairs.

So it went for the other four. Are you ready at last for the stunning conclusion? Yes?

Hunger is one of the most basic and primitive drives of human behavior…Even in affluent societies, episodes of mild hunger are not uncommon…[because] millions of Americans are dieters who deliberately deprive themselves of calories every day…The present findings suggest that such behaviors [as dieting] are likely to lead to unplanned purchases in nonfood domains.


That’s not all, gentlemen and ladies. “Future research” is needed! What is yet a complete mystery is that if a hungry person buys more than food, does a person who buys something besides food also buy non-food items? “Much as hunger gave rise to the acquisition of nonfood items in the present studies, a desire to acquire nonfood items may lead to the unplanned acquisition of food when the opportunity arises.”

Nobody knows! This is your big chance to be part of the famed Scientific Method. Get those scales out and research, research, research!

July 14, 2016 | 20 Comments

The Great Day Is Here! Uncertainty Meets The World


The Great Day—the Day yearned for by all humanity, or at least weakly anticipated by you, Dear Reader—has arrived! Let the trumpet sound and celebration begin! The release of Uncertainty: The Soul of Modeling, Probability & Statistics is official!

The cover above is not the approved version, but one graciously and unexpectedly provided by the one and only Wrath of Gnon. Has more soul than the Springer yellow.

You’ll want to buy a copy for yourself, of course. But in doing so don’t neglect thinking of copies for your loved ones, too. There is no better way to demonstrate filial piety than buying your mother her very own copy. And if that sainted woman is no longer with us, then buying the neighbor’s mother a copy works just as well.

Act now. Supplies are unlimited.

The Big Gist

  1. All probability is conditional;
  2. Probability is not decision.

From those simple and proved truths flows these consequences:

  • Probability cannot discern cause;
  • Therefore no hypothesis test, by wee p-value or Bayes factor, should ever be used;
  • Therefore parameters are of no interest to man or beast;
  • Therefore verified probability models should be used in a predictive sense only;
  • Therefore to understand cause and provide explanation we must look to nature, essence, and power.

Therefore buy the book and be the first on your block to come to a wondrous, penetrating understanding of probability & statistics. Out with the new and in with the old! The older, better, and true understanding of cause and probability, that is. Eschew mathematics for the sake of mathematics, flee ad hocery in all its forms and wiles, and put probability to its intended real use!

This includes you, too, computer scientists, with your big deep data neural net machine “learning” fuzzy algorithms which are all probability models by (admittedly) cuter and more precious names.

Buy the book. Only $64.82, an exceptional bargain.

I see, too, some sellers list used copies, which are, of course, an impossibility. For two reasons. One, the book is only out today. Two, once in possession of this mighty work, none would let it go. Caveat emptor.