# The Logical Leap and criticism

## 529 posts in this topic

Dead men feel no pain is a generalization.

Again, this is a deduction of a new instance from two concepts ("Dead men" and "pain"). If you know what the two are, it's a simple matter to deduce the rest. Calling this "a generalization" is very sloppy.

It's a generalization is but is no more general than the premises in the deduction; it's not a generalization of the premises. It's not an example of an induction at all as it has been presented.

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Wet tongues stick to cold flag poles is a generalization.

So is boiling water burns hands.

So is pushing a ball makes it roll.

So is fire burns.

So is taking morphine relieves pain.

The induction is the fact that wet tongues stuck to cold flag poles cause pain.

But that is not the statement you made originally.

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In post #485 ewv wrote:

"Inducing" the conclusion from a single instance or simple enumeration is not valid inductive reasoning.

On page 24 of TLL David Harriman writes:

(Q)uantity of instances alone is irrelevant to induction. In first-level induction a single instance is sufficient.

I would be interested in ewv's comments.

Quantity alone is irrelevant in that it does not establish a conclusion. With at least some minimal additional thought it can lead to an hypothesis. "Quantity has a quality all its own", but is not a proof.

I reject his characterization of what a first level propositional generalization is and the idea that a single instance is sufficient by itself. There is no such thing as an automatic generalization with no additional thought making connections.

Thanks. My own thoughts exactly.

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Wet tongues stick to cold flag poles is a generalization.

So is boiling water burns hands.

So is pushing a ball makes it roll.

So is fire burns.

So is taking morphine relieves pain.

The induction is the fact that wet tongues stuck to cold flag poles cause pain.

It would be nice if you would offer some proof or evidence of such assertions. What exactly are you generalizing? What are your premises? What you offer is simply a propositional statement. Not a generalization resulting from induction. If you were to offer evidence and argument, you'd soon see that your conclusion is reached by deduction, not induction.

Tongues are wet.

Wet things freeze at low temperatures.

Low temperatures cause wet things to stick to them due to freezing.

Low temperatures cause pain to living tissues.

Therefore, wet tongues stick to frozen things and feel pain.

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"It would be nice if you would offer some proof or evidence of such assertions."

Granted this is a dramatization, but this is all the evidence I need to know that wet tongues stick to cold flag poles which causes pain.  I also realize other individuals may not grasp that induction after watching the video.  I am certain they will grasp the induction if they stick their tongue to the pole instead.

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Here is my one shot example of a generalization/induction.

Sticking your wet tongue to a frozen flag pole causes pain.

In what way is that a generalization? What have you generalized? What have you induced?

Put your tongue on the frozen pole and the answers to your questions will become crystal clear. Think of it as a perceptual level experiment.

If you don't want to think of it as a perceptual level experiment you can also think of it as a proposition or a triple dog dare.

The one thing I am certain of is that sticking your wet tongue tongue to a frozen flag pole causes pain.

This is my one shot example that Tom denies exists. I disagree, anyone want to try my perceptual level experiment?

Being certain or confident that something will happen does not demonstrate a generalization. If I take a sufficient amount of morphine, I will not feel pain during your experiment.

He described a single instance with no grounds for the generalization. if you understand enough about tongues and frozen metal to conclude that licking a frozen metal pipe causes pain, that is a deduction not an induction. "Inducing" the conclusion from a single instance or simple enumeration is not valid inductive reasoning. A strong feeling of fear does not change that, which is not to say that you should keep trying it without understanding what you are doing.

It should also be pointed out that PaulsHere has conceded to the fact that sticking your wet tongue to the flag pole causes pain; otherwise, there is no need to take a sufficient amount of morphine before doing the experiment.
Wet tongues stick to cold flag poles is a generalization.

So is boiling water burns hands.

So is pushing a ball makes it roll.

So is fire burns.

So is taking morphine relieves pain.

The induction is the fact that wet tongues stuck to cold flag poles cause pain.

"It would be nice if you would offer some proof or evidence of such assertions."

Granted this is a dramatization, but this is all the evidence I need to know that wet tongues stick to cold flag poles which causes pain.  I also realize other individuals may not grasp that induction after watching the video.  I am certain they will grasp the induction if they stick their tongue to the pole instead.

Is it also a generalization to induce that this thread can only get repetitiously more repetitive?

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"It would be nice if you would offer some proof or evidence of such assertions."

Granted this is a dramatization, but this is all the evidence I need to know that wet tongues stick to cold flag poles which causes pain.  I also realize other individuals may not grasp that induction after watching the video.  I am certain they will grasp the induction if they stick their tongue to the pole instead.

But they don't grasp it by induction, as has been shown by several posters.

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"It would be nice if you would offer some proof or evidence of such assertions."

Granted this is a dramatization, but this is all the evidence I need to know that wet tongues stick to cold flag poles which causes pain.  I also realize other individuals may not grasp that induction after watching the video.  I am certain they will grasp the induction if they stick their tongue to the pole instead.

I don't see the pain; all I see is the stuck tongue.

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A single particular instance, i.e., the concrete example.

I watch a boy stick his tongue on a cold flag pole. The tongue sticks. The boy crys out in pain.

The generalization:

Wet tongues stick to cold flag poles.

Effect: A boy is crying out in pain.

Cause: His tongue is stuck to a cold flag pole.

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"It would be nice if you would offer some proof or evidence of such assertions."

Granted this is a dramatization, but this is all the evidence I need to know that wet tongues stick to cold flag poles which causes pain.  I also realize other individuals may not grasp that induction after watching the video.  I am certain they will grasp the induction if they stick their tongue to the pole instead.

I don't see the pain; all I see is the stuck tongue.

OK you don't see his pain, I do. Stick your own tongue on the pole and I am certain you will feel pain. Unless you take morphine, as you said earlier, but taking morphine concedes to the fact that sticking your tongue to a cold flag pole causes pain.

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A single particular instance, i.e., the concrete example.

I watch a boy stick his tongue on a cold flag pole. The tongue sticks. The boy crys out in pain.

The generalization:

Wet tongues stick to cold flag poles.

Effect: A boy is crying out in pain.

Cause: His tongue is stuck to a cold flag pole.

He doesn't cry out in pain. All he does is express fear that everyone has left him stuck to the pole. And your premises do not demonstrate your conclusion.

And one more major point. The video clearly demonstrates deductive reasoning. The boy who makes the challenge starts out with the generalization that wet tongues stick to poles and he challenges the other boy to try it, clearly deducing from the generalization that the individual boy's wet tongue will stick to the pole is a conclusion drawn from the generalization. Do you really claim that "Socrates is mortal" is proof that "all men are mortal'? You need to go study your logic texts.

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"It would be nice if you would offer some proof or evidence of such assertions."

Granted this is a dramatization, but this is all the evidence I need to know that wet tongues stick to cold flag poles which causes pain.  I also realize other individuals may not grasp that induction after watching the video.  I am certain they will grasp the induction if they stick their tongue to the pole instead.

I don't see the pain; all I see is the stuck tongue.

OK you don't see his pain, I do. Stick your own tongue on the pole and I am certain you will feel pain. Unless you take morphine, as you said earlier, but taking morphine concedes to the fact that sticking your tongue to a cold flag pole causes pain.

No it doesn't. It demonstrates that your premise is not based upon particular instances and is thus not induction.

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A single particular instance, i.e., the concrete example.

I watch a boy stick his tongue on a cold flag pole. The tongue sticks. The boy crys out in pain.

The generalization:

Wet tongues stick to cold flag poles.

Effect: A boy is crying out in pain.

Cause: His tongue is stuck to a cold flag pole.

He doesn't cry out in pain. All he does is express fear that everyone has left him stuck to the pole. And your premises do not demonstrate your conclusion.

And one more major point. The video clearly demonstrates deductive reasoning. The boy who makes the challenge starts out with the generalization that wet tongues stick to poles and he challenges the other boy to try it, clearly deducing from the generalization that the individual boy's wet tongue will stick to the pole is a conclusion drawn from the generalization. Do you really claim that "Socrates is mortal" is proof that "all men are mortal'? You need to go study your logic texts.

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Doesn't seeing concept formation as a non-inductive process - as LP described in the exchange quoted by Mercury - imply that concept formation is based solely on some subjective process of the concept-former, independent of actual metaphysical attributes and the fact that some attributes are in fact more important than others in forming these generalizations?

But aren't concepts the product of differentiation, not generalizations? You observe entities and group them together by the differences in their characteristics. That's not induction. A child forms the concept of dog by, for example, observing that a dog barks while a cat meows. It's classification, not logic.

Concepts are not "a product" of differentiation. Units are grouped by similarity, not differences. Similarity is in comparison with a commensurable characteristic that is different, as in two shades of red similar against blue. The similar units grouped together are integrated into a single mental unit to form the concept, as opposed to leaving only a group. The generalization is in including an open-ended number of other units that share the essential characteristic; you are widening the group to include all instances that share the essential characteristics of the particulars you start by focusing on. In Ayn Rand's words: "The process of observing the facts of reality and of integrating them into concepts is, in essence, a process of induction." The widening of units in a classification to include all of them is not the same as inductively inferring properties for all members of an existing class from the particulars you observe.

I take it that properties and characteristics are synonymous. Are you saying the generalization applies only to the essential characteristic(s) of a concept's units and all others are excluded from the generalization? If so, is it because the other characteristics are only implicit within the definition?

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I take it that properties and characteristics are synonymous. Are you saying the generalization applies only to the essential characteristic(s) of a concept's units and all others are excluded from the generalization? If so, is it because the other characteristics are only implicit within the definition?

'Property' is a physical characteristic of individual things: temperature, strength, mass, etc. 'Characteristic' is a feature or quality of things or a relationship among things, such as having brown eyes or odd behavior, or similarity and difference among things. The terms are often used interchangeably.

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Doesn't seeing concept formation as a non-inductive process - as LP described in the exchange quoted by Mercury - imply that concept formation is based solely on some subjective process of the concept-former, independent of actual metaphysical attributes and the fact that some attributes are in fact more important than others in forming these generalizations?

But aren't concepts the product of differentiation, not generalizations? You observe entities and group them together by the differences in their characteristics. That's not induction. A child forms the concept of dog by, for example, observing that a dog barks while a cat meows. It's classification, not logic.

Concepts are not "a product" of differentiation. Units are grouped by similarity, not differences. Similarity is in comparison with a commensurable characteristic that is different, as in two shades of red similar against blue. The similar units grouped together are integrated into a single mental unit to form the concept, as opposed to leaving only a group. The generalization is in including an open-ended number of other units that share the essential characteristic; you are widening the group to include all instances that share the essential characteristics of the particulars you start by focusing on. In Ayn Rand's words: "The process of observing the facts of reality and of integrating them into concepts is, in essence, a process of induction." The widening of units in a classification to include all of them is not the same as inductively inferring properties for all members of an existing class from the particulars you observe.

I take it that properties and characteristics are synonymous. Are you saying the generalization applies only to the essential characteristic(s) of a concept's units and all others are excluded from the generalization? If so, is it because the other characteristics are only implicit within the definition?

A generalization as a concept pertains to the units subsumed, not the essential characteristics. The meaning of a concept is its referents, not its definition. The concept man refers to all men, not rationality. The concept of an attribute (like length, color, etc.) refers to all instances of the attribute as it exists in reality as an attribute of an object. The meaning of a second (or higher) level concept is all the concepts (and in some cases units directly perceived) on which it depends. They are the units, in the combination used to form the higher level concept. That is the full logical dependency.

A general proposition is about whatever it is says it is about. If it states something about rationality then it is about rationality. If it states something about men then it is about men. But you cannot generalize a statement about non-essential characteristics of an entity based on the commonality of the essential characteristics alone. 'Rationality' of all men as their primary means of survival as a common characteristic does not tell you that all men are mortal just because you have observed that some of them are and all of them fall under the same concept. You need further explanation tying observations to what you know about men, in conjunction with systematic exploration of observations in order to establish a full context of knowledge before generalizing within it.

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Harriman has just posted another response to those who have challenged his historical accounts of Galileo and Newton.

He accuses his critics of "belittling the achievements of Galileo and Newton" and Harriman paraphrases Jack Nicholson in the movie "A Few Good Men" saying:

“I don’t want money and I don’t want fame. What I do want is for academics to stand there in their girlie graduate gowns and extend to Galileo and Newton some freakin’ respect.”

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There is another problem with The Logical Leap and a crucial one considering its theme. David Harriman doesn't understand or explain how a concept changes, even though he repeatedly notes instances of the phenomenon occurring. An essential part of the book's theme is that the right version of a concept is a "green light" to induction. Yet Mr. Harriman displays no curiosity as to how innovators improve or change concepts to make them green lights. His observations of what great scientists do seem to clash with a fixed idea he has: that concepts don't and shouldn't change.

As a preliminary, let me note there is a respect and set of circumstances where a concept doesn't change. Ayn Rand explained it in the following discussion on page 233 of ITOE:

Prof. H: It is easy to assume that when the definition changes, the concept changes.

AR: No, the context of your knowledge changes. When you know more, you select a different essential characteristic by which to define the object, because you now have to differentiate it more precisely. Your knowledge has expanded, but the concept doesn't change.

The similarities and differences according to which you originally formed the concept still remain. So you haven't changed your concept.

But does it follow from her remarks that a concept can't change? No. A concept isn't changed by acquiring more knowledge, but it can certainly be modified by conscious intent. Does Mr Harriman understand and explain that? No. His only broad remarks about whether concepts change are these on page 13:

The concept "temperature" had the same meaning for Galileo as for Einstein, i.e., both men referred to the same physical property. The difference is only that Einstein knew much more this property; he understood its relation to heat, to motion and to the fundamental nature of matter. But that expansion of knowledge was possible only because the concept itself did not change. Because concepts are stable, we can communicate and advance our knowledge.
You may point out he is only repeating what Miss Rand said, and you're partly right. But the next thing he is remarking on page 25:
Western civilization broadened the concept of "cause," by regarding personal efficacy as merely a subtype of it. This was a crucial precondition of the development of modern science.
So it turns out it is not always valuable if a concept is stable and, in fact, it can be extremely valuable if it changes. (To broaden a concept is to change it.)

Now you'd think Mr. Harriman would have pounced on this phenomenon like a leopard. Consider how many times the book refers to a concept being changed as a crucial element in an inductive breakthrough. Here's just one from page 47, where Harriman is talking about Galileo's discovery of the increase of speed during fall:

In addition to the concept of "friction," this discovery depended on Galileo's two key concepts of motion. Throughout the above reasoning, he was using concepts of "speed" and "acceleration" that differed profoundly from those in common use at the time.

In other words, Galileo (or someone else: Harriman's remark doesn't rule out that possibility) took existing concepts and changed them. In the June edition of TIA Monthly last year I published a paper "Transforming a Concept" that explains how and why concepts change. One of my prime examples was how Newton modified the concept of "transmission" to make his breakthrough about how a medium affects the passage of light. Harry Binswanger reviewed the article, called it "interesting and thoughtful" but dismissed it because he claimed "concepts don't change". His view is symptomatic of a widespread confusion in Objectivism that goes back many years and I am disappointed that Harriman, who knows concepts can indeed change, did not attempt an explanation, but let his fixed idea and his observations sit side by side unresolved.

Those interested in such an explanation can refer to my article in TIA Monthly.

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There is another problem with The Logical Leap and a crucial one considering its theme. David Harriman doesn't understand or explain how a concept changes, even though he repeatedly notes instances of the phenomenon occurring. An essential part of the book's theme is that the right version of a concept is a "green light" to induction. Yet Mr. Harriman displays no curiosity as to how innovators improve or change concepts to make them green lights. His observations of what great scientists do seem to clash with a fixed idea he has: that concepts don't and shouldn't change.

As a preliminary, let me note there is a respect and set of circumstances where a concept doesn't change. Ayn Rand explained it in the following discussion on page 233 of ITOE:

Prof. H: It is easy to assume that when the definition changes, the concept changes.

AR: No, the context of your knowledge changes. When you know more, you select a different essential characteristic by which to define the object, because you now have to differentiate it more precisely. Your knowledge has expanded, but the concept doesn't change.

The similarities and differences according to which you originally formed the concept still remain. So you haven't changed your concept.

But does it follow from her remarks that a concept can't change? No. A concept isn't changed by acquiring more knowledge, but it can certainly be modified by conscious intent. Does Mr Harriman understand and explain that? No. His only broad remarks about whether concepts change are these on page 13:

The concept "temperature" had the same meaning for Galileo as for Einstein, i.e., both men referred to the same physical property. The difference is only that Einstein knew much more this property; he understood its relation to heat, to motion and to the fundamental nature of matter. But that expansion of knowledge was possible only because the concept itself did not change. Because concepts are stable, we can communicate and advance our knowledge.

I left out a word in this quote. The second sentence should read:

The difference is only that Einstein knew much more about this property; he understood its relation to heat, to motion and to the fundamental nature of matter.

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Harriman has just posted another response to those who have challenged his historical accounts of Galileo and Newton.

He accuses his critics of "belittling the achievements of Galileo and Newton" and Harriman paraphrases Jack Nicholson in the movie "A Few Good Men" saying:

“I don’t want money and I don’t want fame. What I do want is for academics to stand there in their girlie graduate gowns and extend to Galileo and Newton some freakin’ respect.”

Sounds like a strong argument to me.

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Harriman has just posted another response to those who have challenged his historical accounts of Galileo and Newton.

He accuses his critics of "belittling the achievements of Galileo and Newton" and Harriman paraphrases Jack Nicholson in the movie "A Few Good Men" saying:

“I don’t want money and I don’t want fame. What I do want is for academics to stand there in their girlie graduate gowns and extend to Galileo and Newton some freakin’ respect.”

Sounds like a strong argument to me.

Harriman continues to explore the upper-limit of inanity and unprofessionalism that can be injected into this "debate". I would say this is spiraling-down, but where do you go from rock-bottom?

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He accuses his critics of "belittling the achievements of Galileo and Newton" and Harriman paraphrases Jack Nicholson in the movie "A Few Good Men" saying:

“I don’t want money and I don’t want fame. What I do want is for academics to stand there in their girlie graduate gowns and extend to Galileo and Newton some freakin’ respect.”

Does some psychologist have the term for the technique used by somebody to evade the necessity of responding to a valid criticism by rewriting the criticism to be about somebody else? "Deflection" is the term that comes to mind.

In any case, it should be apparent, with such devastating wit from the 21st century's top intellect, providing an answer (whether anybody can identify it or not) to the Problem Of Induction, that criticism is doomed from the start. What feeble minds dare challenge such a man? Why, I've heard that he's divided by zero - twice!

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He accuses his critics of "belittling the achievements of Galileo and Newton" and Harriman paraphrases Jack Nicholson in the movie "A Few Good Men" saying:

“I don’t want money and I don’t want fame. What I do want is for academics to stand there in their girlie graduate gowns and extend to Galileo and Newton some freakin’ respect.”

Does some psychologist have the term for the technique used by somebody to evade the necessity of responding to a valid criticism by rewriting the criticism to be about somebody else? "Deflection" is the term that comes to mind.

"Evasion", "polemical strawman argument", "tilting at windmills",...

"Don't bother to examine a folly—ask yourself only what it accomplishes."

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Harriman has just posted another response to those who have challenged his historical accounts of Galileo and Newton.

He accuses his critics of "belittling the achievements of Galileo and Newton" and Harriman paraphrases Jack Nicholson in the movie "A Few Good Men" saying:

“I don’t want money and I don’t want fame. What I do want is for academics to stand there in their girlie graduate gowns and extend to Galileo and Newton some freakin’ respect.”

As has become his pattern, he does not say what "critics" he is talking about or what the criticisms are. His positioning himself as a defender of Galileo and Newton in opposition to unspecified "critics" in "girlie graduate gowns" alleged to be "belittling the achievements of Galileo and Newton" is another strawman argument. Whatever critics he thinks he is addressing while safely avoiding citing what they have allegedly said, no "belittling of Galileo and Newton" has appeared in anything that John McCaskey has made public or anything else that we have seen in this controversy over -- not Galileo and Newton -- but the presentation of David Harriman's own accounts of them. Moreover, the two paragraphs he presents as rebuttals to the unspecified criticisms which he offers in defense of Galileo and Newton have nothing to do with "belittling" anyone -- he doesn't even bother with a strawman example of the alleged "belittling".

In the first paragraph, on Galileo, he writes:

They claim that Galileo did not understand the concept of “friction,” despite the indisputable fact that Galileo abstracted from the effects of friction in order to discover his laws of motion. Furthermore, Galileo made an original discovery about friction. He was the first to realize that bodies falling through a resistive medium reach a terminal speed, and this happens because the frictional force is proportional to speed and therefore this force increases until it equals the weight of the falling body. How could he reach such a generalization without the idea of friction?

But who has said Galileo was "without the idea of friction [i.e., resistance]"? Not John McCaskey or anyone else that we have seen.

As has been discussed previously in much more detail and which still remains unacknowledged by David Harriman, he claimed that Galileo "carefully analyzed friction" despite the fact that what Galileo described in his analysis was buoyancy, not "friction", and not the actual nature of the resistance to the free fall of canon balls moving at high speed (which is not "friction"). Galileo had the idea of the effect of resistance (which he did not call "friction") but an incorrect concept of it. He did not understand it's nature and confused it with a different kind of force, buoyancy, that played no role. David Harriman claimed that correct concepts are necessary as a "green light" for induction. The criticism is not belittling Galileo for misunderstanding the nature of the resitance force he knew was there, but rather criticism of David Harriman's own inaccurate account of what Galileo thought and did. But it's easier to evade that by dramatic grandstanding as a noble defender of Galileo against unmentioned, non-existent "belittlers of Galileo". Could it be that he actually doesn't understand this?

Then he writes of an unspecified "attack on Newton", again ignoring that the criticisms have been of his own dubious historical accounts, not an "attack on Newton":

The attack on Newton claims that he didn’t understand the concepts of “inertia,” “acceleration,” and “momentum.” Allegedly, he was still in the grip of the medieval concept of “impetus.” In contrast to the medieval thinkers, however, Newton was able to calculate — in one case after another — motions and the effects of such motions. In some of his calculations, he symbolized “acceleration” by a “v” with a dot over it, and the dot indicates a time derivative. If he could symbolize and calculate acceleration, in what sense does he not have the idea?

None of this addresses that fact that the historical accounts of Newton, including the Westfall reference he cited in his own book, relate that Newton did in fact retain the notion of impetus in different forms at different stages of his analysis. Referring to Newton's "calculations" does not refute that.

And the only criticism of LL I have seen regarding Newton's idea of acceleration is in one of the emails from John McCaskey to David Harriman in which he discusses the question of whether Newton had the concept of an acceleration vector, not the idea of acceleration, when he derived his law of motion under central force. David Harriman has a master's degree in physics and must understand the distinction between the scalar quantity "'v' with a dot over it" and the more general concept of a time derivative of a velocity vector. There is an enormous difference between a change in scalar speed versus an induced speed in a direction orthogonal to it (inward along the radius orthogonal to the tangential speed). But he doesn't address this distinction. Who has said that Newton didn't have a concept of acceleration at all?

Again, the question is whether Newton used clear concepts of inertia and acceleration in the form that David Harriman said he did -- and which claims are necessary for his own requirement of concepts sufficiently advanced to be what he calls "green light" concepts making advancement possible. No one has said that Newton did not develop the required ideas for his advancements; the issue is over the fully formed "concepts" David Harriman claims are necessary. And of course, once again, these criticisms of LL have nothing to do with "belittling" or "attacking" Newton.

One irony in this is that when one looks into the history of what great scientists were able to do without today's much simpler and clearer concepts that we take for granted, it is astounding how much they were able to do in their context of often tedious, cumbersome methods, a glimmering of knowledge only beginning to appear, and a mixture of bad ideas and ways of thinking common in their time. This only leads to more respect for what they did, not "belittling" them. It is David Harriman himself who does not seem to realize that his own over-simplified accounts are undermining appreciation of what scientists like Galileo and Newton were able to do. But to misrepresent the criticisms of his book as "belittling" and "attacking" Galileo and Newton and then posturing as their brave and lonely defender against unnamed enemies is simply a dishonest evasion misleading his fan base that doesn't have the knowledge to understand what he is doing. Yes, there are people who belittle Galileo and Newton, and who promote irrational theories in the philosophy of science, but this has nothing to do with the current discussion and criticism of LL.