It’s completely plausible

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NewAmerica

Banned
Mandarin
Here, the result of "an extra ice giant takes the brunt of Jupiter’s bullying" is that the extra ice giant has been "tossed out of the solar system." (See this thread)

The question of this thread is whether "it" (in It’s completely plausible”) refers to the hypothsis ("an extra ice giant takes the brunt of Jupiter’s bullying")?

It appears so. The problem is that the author has previously said (the context is in this thread) such possibility is noly 5%, not "completely plausible." Thus he contradicts himself.

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(The author's previous expression, which appears not consistent with the following, is posted in this thread to avoid violating our Forum Rule. Sorry for the inconvenience - New America)

Repeated simulations of this setup worked only about five percent of the time.
<...........................>

An extra ice giant takes the brunt of Jupiter’s bullying while letting the other events in the narrative unfold unimpeded.

It’s completely plausible,” says Batygin. “[If you] ask is there any reason why we should have two instead of three ice giants, the answer is absolutely not.”


-Scientific American

Source
 
  • Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Something can be completely plausible - thought to be a reasonable explanation - but be shown by experiment or experience to be unlikely, as in this case. The writer did not contradict himself.

    In the distant past it was considered to be completely plausible that the world known to the Greeks was managed by a group of gods living on Mount Olympus. No gods have been found by those who have climbed Mount Olympus.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I agree with Andy. There is no contradiction. "Plausible" doesn't imply that the probability need be high.
    Notice how in the article an alternative scenario is presented, but simulations for that worked only about 1% of the time.
    So this 5% one turns out to be a much better bet.
     

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    What is hard to understand is that the author used "completely": “It’s completely plausible,” says Batygin.

    And still harder is Batygin used "absolutely": “[If you] ask is there any reason why we should have two instead of three ice giants, the answer is absolutely not.”

    Completely and absolutely imply 100%, enormously disagreeing with 5%.


    Thank you. :)
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    In ancient Greece there was no question about the likelihood that woods contained spirits and gods lived on a mountain. If there was a storm, a god was having a bad day. It was completely plausible, given the knowledge and beliefs of the Greeks of that time, that this was the explanation of the storm. There was no basis for questioning the plausibility of that explanation.

    Is there any reason why the French language should have two genders instead of three? Absolutely not - having three works perfectly well for the German language.

    There is no connection between the strength of the plausibility of an explanation and the probability found in an experiment or simulation.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Completely and absolutely imply 100%, enormously disagreeing with 5%.
    There is no disagreement. To say that "X is completely plausible" doesn't mean that X is certain. It only means that it is certain that X is plausible.

    That said, words like completely and absolutely are emotionally charged, and to find these gloss-words used this way in a scientific context tends to give the impression that the authors are over-selling their ideas.
    It almost makes them sound insecure.
     

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    There is no connection between the strength of the plausibility of an explanation and the probability found in an experiment or simulation.
    But shouldn't a scientific explanation be testable? Which means that an explanation should be closely linked with an experiment. That is why mythology is exluded from science.

    <——-Off-topic comment removed by moderator (Florentia52)——->
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    But shouldn't a scientific explanation be testable?
    Yes, but what does that have to do with the meaning of the words you are asking about? A theory can be completely plausible - the phrase you are asking about. There may be no reason whatsoever to express doubt about the theory, but if it is tested it may prove to be completely wrong. Theoretical physicists come up with new theories long before the means of testing them is available.

    That is why mythology is exluded from science.
    Is it? Have you heard of phlogiston or the four humours?

    <——-Reply to now-deleted post removed by moderator (Florentia52)——->
     
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    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    Yes, but what does that have to do with the meaning of the words you are asking about? A theory can be completely plausible - the phrase you are asking about. There may be no reason whatsoever to express doubt about the theory, but if it is tested it may prove to be completely wrong. Theoretical physicists come up with new theories long before the means of testing them is available.
    Notice that the author says "5%" first, then he says "completely" and "absolutely" second. Why not increase the pencentage to 95% then start bragging "completely" and "absolutely", which would be more "convincing"?

    No new theories would label themselves "complete" and "absolute."

    Is it? Have you heard of phlogiston or the four humours?
    They have been falsified by modern science and have vanished into oblivion.

    <——-Reply to now-deleted comment removed by moderator (Flirentia52)——->
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    You still have not understood. There is no connection between the plausibility of a theory and the subsequent proof or disproof of that theory. It is perfectly reasonable to say that a theory is completely plausible, since that means that there is no apparent reason why its plausibility should be questioned. There is no defect in that use of English. That a subsequent experiment may prove the theory to be false is completely irrelevant to the statement "This theory is completely plausible". It is also completely irrelevant that the author used "five percent" elsewhere in the article. He is quoting two researchers who are working separately.

    You are questioning the use of English on the basis of your perceptions of fact. There is nothing wrong with the use of English, and the author is not contradicting himself.

    They have been falsified by modern science and have vanished into oblivion.
    Yes. Exactly my point - mythology was not excluded by science, it was an integral part of it until new knowledge became available and turned received wisdom into myth. Things that were completely plausible 5,000 or 500 years ago are not completely plausible in the 21st century.
     

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    You still have not understood. There is no connection between the plausibility of a theory and the subsequent proof or disproof of that theory. It is perfectly reasonable to say that a theory is completely plausible, since that means that there is no apparent reason why its plausibility should be questioned. There is no defect in that use of English. That a subsequent experiment may prove the theory to be false is completely irrelevant to the statement "This theory is completely plausible". It is also completely irrelevant that the author used "five percent" elsewhere in the article. He is quoting two researchers who are working separately.

    You are questioning the use of English on the basis of your perceptions of fact. There is nothing wrong with the use of English, and the author is not contradicting himself.

    Yes. Exactly my point - mythology was not excluded by science, it was an integral part of it until new knowledge became available and turned received wisdom into myth. Things that were completely plausible 5,000 or 500 years ago are not completely plausible in the 21st century.
    If irrelevant, how on earth it would become not completely plausible in the 21st century? Isn't it because the experiments have proven the previous "completely plausible"wrong? They are relevant anyways and the relevance leads to improvements.
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    Maybe it would help to think about the word "plausible" as more of a synonym to "possible", and also placing some emphasis on the WR dictionary's part of the definition "having an appearance of" (continued: "truth or reason").

    If scientific research (hypothesis/experiment/observation) does not show that something cannot be true, then it could be "plausible" ("possible").
    If scientific research (hypothesis/experiment/observation) shows that something cannot be true, then it is no longer "plausible" ("possible").

    So it's possible, logically, to believe that something is true, meaning it's possible to find something plausible, but in fact it might be physically impossible for it to be true. And later in life someone does testing and indeed finds out that the hypothesis is incorrect, and as we now have new knowledge the hypothesis is implausible. And remember that this doesn't mean that a specific hypothesis must be tested itself for it to be proven to be impossible ("false"), it could be that other scientific advances shows that it must be impossible.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    The essence of plausibility is that it seems, at the time, to be reasonable/believable. The plausibility of any statement may change with time.
    OED:
    Plausible adj. 4. a. Of an argument, an idea, a statement, etc.: seeming reasonable, probable, or truthful; convincing, believable;
    1993 Guardian 14 July i. 12/4 It is entirely plausible that Sir Colin Marshall did not know of the computer accessing or hacking which was going on.
    2004 Vogue Mar. 286/2. I invented a plausible surname for her and her husband that consisted of all the letters of both their last names.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    If irrelevant, how on earth it would become not completely plausible in the 21st century? Isn't it because the experiments have proven the previous "completely plausible"wrong? They are relevant anyways and the relevance leads to improvements.
    This is an English language forum. Is "completely plausible" correct in grammar and syntax? Yes. Is its use in this text correct? Yes. From the point of view of the correct use of the English language, there is no connection whatsoever between a theory which is completely plausible and a subsequent experiment which may disprove that theory.

    If you wish to discuss the philosophy of the scientific method, you should find a different forum.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    This is an English language forum. Is "completely plausible" correct in grammar and syntax? Yes. Is its use in this text correct? Yes. From the point of view of the correct use of the English language, there is no connection whatsoever between a theory which is completely plausible and a subsequent experiment which may disprove that theory.

    If you wish to discuss the philosophy of the scientific method, you should find a different forum.
    A clearer example, perhaps, is that it was long thought plausible that the sun revolved around the earth. :D
     

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    This is an English language forum. Is "completely plausible" correct in grammar and syntax? Yes. Is its use in this text correct? Yes. From the point of view of the correct use of the English language, there is no connection whatsoever between a theory which is completely plausible and a subsequent experiment which may disprove that theory.

    If you wish to discuss the philosophy of the scientific method, you should find a different forum.
    Grammar :tick: syntax :tick: Yes and yes.

    "Is its use in this text correct?" Wait, what use is it? It is exactly the question. It is not simply a yes unless you restrict it to grammar or syntax.

    It is a question of logic. And whether its use is correct depends on its context. The context is science, not general language. The author has used "completely" and "absolutely" to show his theory, which is logically questionable.

    Maybe it would help to think about the word "plausible" as more of a synonym to "possible", and also placing some emphasis on the WR dictionary's part of the definition "having an appearance of" (continued: "truth or reason").

    If scientific research (hypothesis/experiment/observation) does not show that something cannot be true, then it could be "plausible" ("possible").
    If scientific research (hypothesis/experiment/observation) shows that something cannot be true, then it is no longer "plausible" ("possible").

    So it's possible, logically, to believe that something is true, meaning it's possible to find something plausible, but in fact it might be physically impossible for it to be true. And later in life someone does testing and indeed finds out that the hypothesis is incorrect, and as we now have new knowledge the hypothesis is implausible. And remember that this doesn't mean that a specific hypothesis must be tested itself for it to be proven to be impossible ("false"), it could be that other scientific advances shows that it must be impossible.
    The essence of plausibility is that it seems, at the time, to be reasonable/believable. The plausibility of any statement may change with time.
    OED:
    Plausible adj. 4. a. Of an argument, an idea, a statement, etc.: seeming reasonable, probable, or truthful; convincing, believable;
    :thumbsup::thumbsup:I agree with you both.

    But the question is that the author has used "completely" and "absolutely."
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    But the question is that the author has used "completely" and "absolutely."
    You are apparently under the misimpression that "it's completely possible that X" is equivalent to "the probability of X is 100%," i.e., "X is definitely true." That's not correct. "Completely" and "absolutely" are just intensifiers.
     

    AnythingGoes

    Senior Member
    English - USA (Midwest/Appalachia)
    You are apparently under the misimpression that "it's completely possible that X" is equivalent to "the probability of X is 100%," i.e., "X is definitely true." That's not correct. "Completely" and "absolutely" are just intensifiers.
    :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
     

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    You are apparently under the misimpression that "it's completely possible that X" is equivalent to "the probability of X is 100%," i.e., "X is definitely true." That's not correct. "Completely" and "absolutely" are just intensifiers.
    Okay. But would "highly plausible" be better than "completely plausible" which sounds like the peddling of a street hawker?
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    The author has used "completely" and "absolutely" to show his theory, which is logically questionable.
    He has not. The scientist he quotes has used those words. The scientist said what he believed to be the case. If that is what he believed, he used the words correctly. Your disagreement with his opinion has nothing whatsoever to do with his correct choice and use of these words.

    I think it completely plausible that you will continue to fail to get the point that there is nothing wrong with the use of these two words in the article you linked to in the OP. However, you could think hard, read the thread again, get the point, and demonstrate that my hypothesis is incorrect.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    :thumbsup::thumbsup:I agree with you both.

    But the question is that the author has used "completely" and "absolutely."
    Plausible is a gradable adjective.

    As the definition is that plausible indicates that an argument "seems" to be reasonable, probable, or truthful; convincing, believable, etc., it is now a question of how much it "seems to be reasonable, etc.," (i) At the time that it is given and (ii) using only the level of knowledge available, will the argument convince some people (quite plausible), a lot of people (plausible), most people including experts (very plausible), everyone (completely plausible)?

    Interestingly, "Plausible" is only used by people who are themselves not certain that the statement in question is the truth but think that it seems to explain things.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    It is a question of logic.
    It's more a question of meaning. Plausible, when applied to a hypothesis, does not mean probable or likely, it means credible or believable.

    Here we have a hypothesis that there was once an additional "ice giant". To call this hypothesis plausible is not a comment of how likely it is that this ice giant existed. Rather, it means that we are unaware of any reasons why this should be impossible. Paul puts it well: "It seems to explain things". To say that the hypothesis is "completely plausible" is a bit like saying that it is "entirely possible" that it is true, without saying how probable it is that it's true.

    As a side note, be careful not to misunderstand this "five percent" stuff. They don't mean there is a 5% probability that there was a third ice giant. They said that they generated a random selection of initial planetary configurations, and started simulating, and 5% of these simulations led to one of these giants being largely expelled from the system and leading to the configuration that we see today (including the Kuiper belt of icy debris). You might think that probability low, but it doesn't really tell us how likely the existence of a third ice giant was. It tells us that if there was one, then the starting configuration must have been like that in one of those 5% of configurations.

    Let me try an analogy. Ferdinand Fox wants to catch Donald Duck, but Donald can always sense it when Ferdinand tries to sneak up on him. If Donald can run away and reach the lake quickly enough, he'll be safe on the water, because Ferdinand can't swim. There's a 1% chance that Ferdinand will catch Donald. Now here we are: Ferdinand is asleep under a bush, with a full belly and a contented smile on his face. There is a pile of duck feathers nearby. We can't find Donald. I'd say the probability is pretty high that Ferdinand has caught and eaten Donald. Sure, it's possible that Donald has gone on holiday to Spain and Ferdinand has managed to catch some other duck, but if I were a betting man, I'm sure you could guess which scenario my money would be on.
     

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    What I got is that he chooses to believe, regardless of the facts. It all depends on his free will, independent of reality.

    But there is some nuance I don't know. I've made a scenario below to show the case:
    Jack, william and Karl are good friends.

    Jack:"It's absolutely plausible that David Copperfield can really fly. Say, he can fly before me to the top of the building."

    William:"Nobody can actually fly. Gravity works. I'd rather spend some time to prove that David used some tricks to show you that he can fly, yet he actually can't."

    Karl:"You idiot! Bill. Haven't you heard that Jack said It's absolutely plausible that David Copperfield can really fly? Jack is always smarter than you. Just listen to him!"
    The question here is whether William would look silly when he tries to do the opposite in the face of Jack's declaration "It's absolutely plausible that David Copperfield can really fly."
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    What I got is that he chooses to believe, regardless of the facts. It all depends on his free will, independent of reality.

    But there is some nuance I don't know. I've made a scenario below to show the case:


    The question here is whether William would look silly when he tries to do the opposite in the face of Jack's declaration "It's absolutely plausible that David Copperfiled can really fly."
    If you believe in magic, you might think it is "logically reasonable/plausible" that he can fly. If you don't beieve in magic, but you are aware of gravity and human anatomy it is not plausible. If there are facts that disprove something, then it is no longer plausible. So, William already thinks Jack is silly, and he is not going to beieve Jack's implausible assertion.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    What I got is that he chooses to believe, regardless of the facts.
    No. If a scientist says of a theoretical explanation that he considers it completely plausible he is saying that there is no reason to doubt its plausibility. He is not making that statement regardless of facts, he is making the statement on the basis of known facts. There is nothing in the article to make his theory implausible. Indeed, the experiments demonstrated that his explanation was completely plausible
    The best scenario—the one that reproduced a solar system that most closely resembles the real one—was one with an extra planet that lived between the original orbits of Saturn and Uranus.

    “Invoking the existence of a fifth [giant] planet is actually much simpler than not,” says Sean Raymond, a planetary scientist at the University of Bordeaux in France. While the evidence is largely circumstantial, “it makes a lot more sense to have had an extra one back then.”
    Five per cent of the simulations demonstrated that the theoretical model, assuming an extra planet, worked. Not only did it work, but it was the best model.

    Your scenario bears no relationship to the statements made by Batygin.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    What I got is that he chooses to believe, regardless of the facts.
    What facts? There are no facts. There are only results of simulations which began with various fictional starting scenarios.
    The experiments demonstrated that some of those fictional scenarios could lead to the factual state we observe today, and could therefore have really existed.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    The question of this thread is whether "it" (in It’s completely plausible”) refers to the hypothsis ("an extra ice giant takes the brunt of Jupiter’s bullying")?
    My answer is an emphatic "no".

    I honestly think you all have been discussing a point he never made. Here's the entire paragraph and the only time plausible is used in the article.

    “It’s completely plausible,” says Batygin. “[If you] ask is there any reason why we should have two instead of three ice giants, the answer is absolutely not.” In fact, he says, some calculations indicate that as many as five Neptune-like worlds could have formed initially. [My bold.]

    In my view he's simply referring to the birth of the solar system and the initial formation of the planets. Could the solar system have formed with more than two ice giants? His answer is that it's entirely plausible there could have been more than two. I assume he means there is no known physics or data about the formation of the solar system that would restrict the initial number to two. He even says that the number could even have been as high as five. If five is possible then certainly three was possible. That's the only idea he is describing as plausible.

    The importance of that quote is that if you lose a planet and are left with two there must have been three to start with. He's saying that part of the question is not at issue, three was entirely possible (but not guaranteed).

    Only after he's made that point does he begin to talk about the expelled planet theory. He's saying although it's plausible that the solar system could have started with 3, 4 or 5 ice giants, he thought he could disprove that there were more than two at the beginning by using other evidence. By running simulations to model the effect of a theoretical third ice giant leaving the solar system he thought he would discover a situation that didn't match current reality - the theoretical Kuiper belt resulting from that simulation would look different from the real Kuiper belt. If that was the case, he could rule out the idea that a third ice giant had left the solar system at some point in the past and therefore conclude the solar system only ever had two. But to his surprise, the simulated results and the actual Kuiper belt are indistinguishable. With that method, he could not rule out that a third planet had left.

    Batygin never mentions 5% in the article nor is it a reference to him. That's a reference to Nesvorný's work. He was trying to run simulations to show how the planets' orbits got their current configuration. Only 1% of the time did it work because the other 99% of the time Jupiter ended up ejecting a planet (either Uranus or Neptune). Nesvorný finally realized that if Jupiter was likely to eject a planet then his simulations had to start with one more planet than we currently have, so when one is thrown out, there would still be our current two left. When he added that third planet, the simulation began mimicking the real solar system 5% of the time. That's a big improvement over 1% but obviously not conclusive. But still it gives credence to the idea that a third planet might have been involved because it yields results closer to reality. But none of that has anything to do with Batygin's claim about the plausibility of having three planets to begin with. Nesvorný accepts that premise, too, in his research.

    Having said all that I agree with the general argument that plausibility and probability are not the same thing. Something can be entirely plausible, it doesn't violate any known limitation of existence, but yet never happen. It's completely plausible I could have visited Tokyo and eaten sushi there. That doesn't mean it is likely I did that. Maybe you could run some experiments to prove I did or didn't but it doesn't change the fact that it's a plausible scenario. If you find a stamp in my passport that says I was in Japan it becomes even more plausible. And yet, I might never have left Yokohama and never seen Tokyo. With the evidence you have, you don't know. If you find a hotel receipt showing I spent time in Tokyo it becomes even more plausible. But if no morsel of sushi has ever passed my lips it still didn't happen, no matter how plausible. I could spend 25 years in Tokyo and never eat sushi.
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Actually, my answer is "yes". The quotation "It's completely plausible" follows the previous paragraph. What is the referent for "it"? The content of the previous paragraph. That is, the suggestion that there was a planet that was ejected.

    The writer is using other people's words to make his point, but that doesn't change the need for "it" to have a referent in the usual way.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    What is the referent for "it"? The content of the previous paragraph.
    Yes, in effect. Technically, though, it can't actually be the case. This is because "It's completely plausible" is a direct quotation. The author of the article, Christopher Crockett, is quoting Batygin. But Batygin can't refer to a paragraph that Crockett had, at the time, not even written yet. Nevertheless, we must presume that it refers to something that Batygin said immediately beforehand, and which Crockett is paraphrasing in his own paragraph.
    The writer is using other people's words to make his point, but that doesn't change the need for "it" to have a referent in the usual way.
    :thumbsup:
     

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    Your scenario bears no relationship to the statements made by Batygin.
    No, it doesn't intend to expound Batygin's statements. Rather, it tried to explore the definitions of "absolutely plausible."

    My answer is an emphatic "no".

    I honestly think you all have been discussing a point he never made. Here's the entire paragraph and the only time plausible is used in the article.

    “It’s completely plausible,” says Batygin. “[If you] ask is there any reason why we should have two instead of three ice giants, the answer is absolutely not.” In fact, he says, some calculations indicate that as many as five Neptune-like worlds could have formed initially. [My bold.]

    In my view he's simply referring to the birth of the solar system and the initial formation of the planets. Could the solar system have formed with more than two ice giants? His answer is that it's entirely plausible there could have been more than two. I assume he means there is no known physics or data about the formation of the solar system that would restrict the initial number to two. He even says that the number could even have been as high as five. If five is possible then certainly three was possible. That's the only idea he is describing as plausible.

    The importance of that quote is that if you lose a planet and are left with two there must have been three to start with. He's saying that part of the question is not at issue, three was entirely possible (but not guaranteed).

    Only after he's made that point does he begin to talk about the expelled planet theory. He's saying although it's plausible that the solar system could have started with 3, 4 or 5 ice giants, he thought he could disprove that there were more than two at the beginning by using other evidence. By running simulations to model the effect of a theoretical third ice giant leaving the solar system he thought he would discover a situation that didn't match current reality - the theoretical Kuiper belt resulting from that simulation would look different from the real Kuiper belt. If that was the case, he could rule out the idea that a third ice giant had left the solar system at some point in the past and therefore conclude the solar system only ever had two. But to his surprise, the simulated results and the actual Kuiper belt are indistinguishable. With that method, he could not rule out that a third planet had left.

    Batygin never mentions 5% in the article nor is it a reference to him. That's a reference to Nesvorný's work. He was trying to run simulations to show how the planets' orbits got their current configuration. Only 1% of the time did it work because the other 99% of the time Jupiter ended up ejecting a planet (either Uranus or Neptune). Nesvorný finally realized that if Jupiter was likely to eject a planet then his simulations had to start with one more planet than we currently have, so when one is thrown out, there would still be our current two left. When he added that third planet, the simulation began mimicking the real solar system 5% of the time. That's a big improvement over 1% but obviously not conclusive. But still it gives credence to the idea that a third planet might have been involved because it yields results closer to reality. But none of that has anything to do with Batygin's claim about the plausibility of having three planets to begin with. Nesvorný accepts that premise, too, in his research.

    Having said all that I agree with the general argument that plausibility and probability are not the same thing. Something can be entirely plausible, it doesn't violate any known limitation of existence, but yet never happen. It's completely plausible I could have visited Tokyo and eaten sushi there. That doesn't mean it is likely I did that. Maybe you could run some experiments to prove I did or didn't but it doesn't change the fact that it's a plausible scenario. If you find a stamp in my passport that says I was in Japan it becomes even more plausible. And yet, I might never have left Yokohama and never seen Tokyo. With the evidence you have, you don't know. If you find a hotel receipt showing I spent time in Tokyo it becomes even more plausible. But if no morsel of sushi has ever passed my lips it still didn't happen, no matter how plausible. I could spend 25 years in Tokyo and never eat sushi.
    It is almost an article of popular science and language. I've read it twice.

    What I got is that the original claim "It's completely plausible" is the best judgement based on facts at the time that the claim is made. The independence of the claim will not be stained by the future development in which new evidence will emerge to either enhance or weaken its credibility.

    The transcendency of this original claim is not very clear to me. It might be due to the stunningly fast pace of our era, in which every new discovery would be quickly falsified or modified. Yet English Language already had had a time-honored history, even before the Enlightenment, which adds difficulty to the understanding of today's ESL learners.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    What I got is that the original claim "It's completely plausible" is the best judgement based on facts at the time that the claim is made. The independence of the claim will not be stained by the future in which new evidence will emerge to either enhance or weaken its credibility.
    No.

    "It's completely plausible" is a description of the appearance of the credibility of the claim based on the state of [the speaker's] knowledge at the time that the statement "It's completely plausible" is made.

    The plausibility of any claim will change as accurate knowledge increases/changes. However, we can use "It was plausible" to refer to past knowledge/explanations.

    In the 19th century, it was believed that space was filled with a mysterious gas-like substance called "ether" - this was a plausible theory because light waves were assumed to operate in the same way that sound waves did, i.e. they needed a medium through which to travel. We can therefore understand why that theory was plausible. The theory is discredited but, because we can understand why people believed it, there is no opprobrium attached to those who believed it.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    doesn't intend to expound Batygin's statements. Rather, it tried to explore the definitions of "absolutely plausible."
    I think you missed my point. Batygin's statement about credibility was rational. Your narrative about flying was irrational.
     

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    No.

    "It's completely plausible" is a description of the appearance of the credibility of the claim based on the state of [the speaker's] knowledge at the time that the statement "It's completely plausible" is made.

    The plausibility of any claim will change as accurate knowledge increases/changes. However, we can use "It was plausible" to refer to past knowledge/explanations.

    In the 19th century, it was believed that space was filled with a mysterious gas-like substance called "ether" - this was a plausible theory because light waves were assumed to operate in the same way that sound waves did, i.e. they needed a medium through which to travel. We can therefore understand why that theory was plausible. The theory is discredited but, because we can understand why people believed it, there is no opprobrium attached to those who believed it.
    This makes things clearer.

    I think you missed my point. Batygin's statement about credibility was rational. Your narrative about flying was irrational.
    How do you know that David Copperfield's flying is irrational when you are not able to crack the secret behind the magic?
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    What is the referent for "it"?
    The referent is right there in the same paragraph. I bolded it. My guess is the writer might be to blame for the confusion because of the structure of the paragraph and for the abrupt switch from talking about Nesvorný and his point of view to talking about Batygin and his point of view.

    I'll switch it around too make it clearer.

    [If you] ask is there any reason why we should have two instead of three ice giants [when the universe formed], the answer is absolutely not." It’s completely plausible [to have had three],” says Batygin. In fact, he says, some calculations indicate that as many as five Neptune-like worlds could have formed initially.

    To have a third planet be expelled you have to have a third planet to start with. That entire paragraph is a self-contained discussion of the likelihood of having at least three planets to start with. If you don't have that possibility, then talking about the effect of one being expelled is pointless. Batygin is quoted to show that's not a problem with Nesvorný's idea. The premise that you could have originally had a third planet is well-founded based on other science and is completely plausible.

    Remember, this paragraph comes after an earlier one where Nesvorný says he just added hypothetical "martyr" planets to his calculations to see what would happen. He didn't even take it seriously himself.

    After a year of trying countless different scenarios, he started playing with the idea of adding martyr worlds: extra planets sacrificed to save the others.

    “I would run these simulations just to see what would happen, not taking them too seriously,” Nesvorný says.

    The Batygin quote is inserted to inform the reader that these hypothetical, mathematical martyr worlds dreamed up by Nesvorný could have really existed and it's no longer just a mathematical exercise. Batygin answers the question "is there any reason why we should have two instead of three ice giants [when the universe formed]". No there's no reason it had to be two from the beginning is his answer.

    But then he tries to show that it really was only two by running his own simulations. If he had proved that, it would have been a setback for Nesvorný. But to his own surprise, he couldn't prove it.

    The writer is using other people's words to make his point, but that doesn't change the need for "it" to have a referent in the usual way.
    It has a referent in the usual way but in a slightly unusual order. I don't know if Batygin reversed them or the writer did.

    But it's no different than this:
    "I'm tired of it," she said. "If you ever bothered to ask me how I feel about you spending all our money, that's what I'd say."

    The paragraph leads with an answer to a question that is only specified afterward. Still, the answer is a response to the question, and not to something from an earlier paragraph.
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    How do you know that David Copperfield's flying is irrational when you are not able to crack the secret behind the magic?
    Please see #27. Most people are aware that David Copperfield's performances (like any other magicians') are not actually magic and that people cannot fly. The interest is in "How did he actually do that?" while accepting that it is skilled trickery and not actually "magic". Therefore the only plausible explanation is trickery while an actual ability of a human to fly is implausible.
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    The referent is right there in the same paragraph. I bolded it.
    And I disagree with you. This is a journalist building a logical sequence of argument, using partial quotations and following normal sentence structure. I can see no reason to believe that a remote statement two sentences later is the referent of "it", particularly as making that link makes no sense at all to me.
    This is the dilemma that Nesvorný was trying to solve without breaking everything else about the simulations that did work. An extra ice giant takes the brunt of Jupiter’s bullying while letting the other events in the narrative unfold unimpeded.

    “It’s completely plausible,” says Batygin. “[If you] ask is there any reason why we should have two instead of three ice giants, the answer is absolutely not.” In fact, he says, some calculations indicate that as many as five Neptune-like worlds could have formed initially.
    An extra ice giant takes the brunt of Jupiter’s bullying while letting the other events in the narrative unfold unimpeded. Suggesting that there is an extra ice giant is completely plausible. There is no reason that there should be two instead of three ice giants. Some calculation indicate that as many as five Neptune-like worlds could have formed initially.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    I agree that the referent has to come before the sentence in question, and that it should be the same referent in both the Batygin's work and the journalist's work.

    And it does not necessarily have to appear in the paragraph immediately preceding, in either work.

    Do we have access to both contexts?
     
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