Gentleman, this is insanity.
You are actually willing to believe that some highly sophisticated theories of epistemology are likely to be correct, but are unwilling to accept that saying 'my striking the nail with the hammer was the cause of the nail's penetration of the wood' is logically, inductively justified?
Of course, what are the odds that something else caused the nail to go into the wood? Well, they are extremely small in practice, but they are not equal to zero.Uh, yes, they are zero. It IS the hammer causing the nail to go into the wood. It isn't my deceased grandmother. Insanity is too nice of a word for not accepting the obviously perceived. Jeff is being too nice. A better word is skepticism.
No, the odds are not zero, nor are the alternatives insane.
Imagine the following scenario:
You walk into a pool hall. On the table is a cue ball and a 7-ball. At the table is a fat man from Minnesota, drawing his stick back on the cue ball. He calls side pocket. It's a straight shot for Fats, one he'd never miss.
Joe Highroller, your gambling archnemesis, staggers up reeking of expensive booze, and says, "I'll give ya 5 to 1 Fats doesn't put the 7 in the pocket."
"I'm not stupid, Joe," you say. He's obvious paid Fats to throw it and set you up.
"Gutless?" Joe says. Fats' cue thrusts forward and the ball winds up in the pocket.
Joe slumps into a chair and says, "I'll shtill lay ya 5 to 1," then his head slumps to the table. You look at his goons and they just shrug.
"You heard him say it?" you ask, sensing your chance to recoup your losses to this shark. They nod. "OK," you say, "I'll lay TEN LARGE on that." Finally this bastard will get his comeuppance.
Joe Highroller suddenly stands up and declares, in a disconcertingly sober voice, "You loser, sucker. Pay up."
"The hell you say! I saw Fats sink the ball."
"You only think you did." He takes you by the arm and leads you to the table. Up close, you see nearly-invisible wires attached to Fats' stick, and to the balls, and begin to smell a rat. "Fats never touched the cue ball, and the cue ball never touched the 7-ball. It was all done with wires to restrain the movement of the stick, and to move and stop the other balls. They never came within a twentieth of an inch of each other."
"Bullshit. I heard them."
"Oh, that," Joe says. "Well, what you probably heard was this." He pulls a small remote control from his pocket and presses a button, and you hear a thud, clack and plop. "We rigged this to go off when Fats moved his stick to the end of the wire."
"You sonofabitch." You've been had. But a deal's a deal, and you ask if he'll take your marker.
He agrees as he slaps on expensive booze like aftershave and laughs.
What are the odds that I snuck into Jeff's garage and rigged a trick nail and hammer? Extremely unlikely.
But I will tell you that I've done things very nearly this evil to unsuspecting victims and led them to believe some rather odd things. [Cackles, and wrings hands evilly.] Perhaps I'll discuss this on another occasion.
[Exploding Hillary fantasy snipped.]
And, Robert, I know you are too smart to have missed the fact that if you can't say with certainty that the hammer drove the nail into the wood, then you also cannot discuss probability with the statement that the odds "are extremely small in practice." If you're going to throw out reality, the baby's got to go with it.
Look, gentlemen. The likelihood of my striking a nail with a hammer and the nail going into the wood not being cause and effect are VIRTUALLY nil. But they are not nil. They are something like 99.999999999999999999999999999999999% give or take a whole lot of 9s. You would need omniscience to declare them 100%, and few I know qualify.
Are you really telling me you actually need that pathetic little .00000000000000000000000000000000000001% give or take a whole lot of zeroes before you can be comfortable with reality? If so, I'd say that's damned insecure. LOL
Here's the thing. When we get away from those many things which are nearly 100% for all practical purposes, things can become a bit fuzzier.
You were seen running from Joe Highroller's house, and picked up with the murder weapon - so you killed him, right? You had motive and opportunity, so you whacked him to get your marker back. The problem is, you didn't. You were framed. (I won't bother to invent a scenario. Your attorney will do that for a jury, who will find you innocent on reasonable doubt. But nowhere near 100%.)
Scenarios like this don't have nearly as many nines in the numbers. Nor do many scientific theories.
Nobdody's throwing out reason or any baby with the bathwater, nor invalidating the efficacy of anyone's mind, nor making insane claims. Those are purely hysterical reactions. Either nature permits that 100% or it doesn't. If it doesn't, we need to get over it.
I'm sure this subject will arise again.