-2

Regarding an event between the interaction of two distant elements, an expert in this field states:

As far as anyone knows, there is no transmission of any useful information

We accept this statement as being truthful, with no attempt to deceive, or mislead...... it is an educational statement, made by an expert who is not setting out to deceive.

This acceptance is a pre-requisite. As has been pointed out "language can be fuzzy", or could be structured to be intentionally misleading - which then opens up the possibility for any answers

Therefore, from a genuine statement, we look to glean the maximum correct information.


Question

Can we definitively state that information is being transmitted (that is useless information)?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Hot Licks, NVZ, ab2, TrevorD, curiousdannii May 1 '16 at 0:57

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • The difference between something being useless and not existing at all is a notable one, yet this statement exactly straddles the fence. Bravo! – user126158 Apr 28 '16 at 18:25
  • 1
    On 2.) you can't assume that information is being transferred. You even note this yourself with your presumption. In reality, if nothing at all was transferred, then 2.) would still have correct meaning. – public wireless Apr 28 '16 at 18:48
  • 1
    It's "c) The rules of the English language do not allow us to know definitively if information is being transmitted." If I say "There is no red car outside my house" it doesn't mean that there is a car of another color outside my house. – sumelic Apr 28 '16 at 21:34
  • Hmmm! I disagree completely. The use of the clause "as far as anyone knows" relates specifically to the information that exists. ie. as far as we know, the car outside my house is not red. ie. there is a car outside, but we don't know if it is red... AND ALSO - in honesty, I don't get how such an important question as this can get a negative vote, without explanation... after some hours of work on this serious question, how is it possible that it can be dismissed as a negative question... that, I find very sad... hopefully, somebody with voting rights can rectify this - I would be grateful. – Marco-UandL Apr 28 '16 at 21:53
  • "Information" is different from "noise". I see a lot of noise above, very little information. – Hot Licks Apr 28 '16 at 22:41
3

All you know from the second part of the sentence is that nothing useful is transmitted. The statement says nothing on the subject of whether complete nonsense is transmitted.

"As far as anyone knows" is a classic get-out clause, but here it may actually have meaning. For example if something is transmitted, there may be no one who can make sense of it, or even know whether sense can be made of it. Thus "no useful information". But if someone turns up who speaks the language /knows the code there would be useful information.

Your meaning would better be conveyed by "only useless nonsense/gibberish/data was transmitted".

  • Thanks - I'm editing the question, to provide greater context – Marco-UandL Apr 28 '16 at 18:18
  • Okay... edit done... wow it's difficult being precise.... have pity on the physicist that answered my question! – Marco-UandL Apr 28 '16 at 20:49
  • This answer applies to the original version of the question. I'm leaving it intact for now although it may not be directly applicable to the current version. – Chris H Apr 28 '16 at 20:51
  • So I am a physicist with some understanding of quantum information. I avoid physicsforums and to a lesser extent physics.se as places where my time disappears. Without getting as far as your "notes" your option c summarises my answer - except, but reading just a little further in the new version, the possibility of useless information being transmitted doesn't really exist because of the type of experiment. – Chris H Apr 28 '16 at 20:56
  • That's fine Chris, but see my remarks above to sumelic - I do think that the opening clause is important from a grammatical perspective.... and also note that somebody has negatively voted the question, even though it strikes at the very heart of understanding the language.... a bit upsetting after all the effort. – Marco-UandL Apr 28 '16 at 22:02
1

You appear to be using 'interpretation' eqivocally: do you mean intention of the speaker (in which case of course only one person could answer) or state of affairs in which this statement is true? If the latter, then of course there are other possibilities. Perhaps 'we' have received nothing at all, but cannot be sure that there was not a transmission on another frequency: perhaps we cannot tell whether what we have received is random noise or a garbled message: perhaps there is a misunderstanding between sender and receiver.

  • This relates to a state of affairs in which this statement is true... however this state of affairs is not fully understood... Because of this, I avoided complicating the question, On reflection, I will edit the question to provide more detail. – Marco-UandL Apr 28 '16 at 18:17
  • Okay... edit done... wow it's difficult being precise.... have pity on the physicist that answered my question! – Marco-UandL Apr 28 '16 at 20:49
0

The most accurate of the options you provided is C:

The rules of the English language do not allow us to know definitively if information is being transmitted

It's partly intrinsic fuzziness in the English (or any natural) language, but the fuzziness persists even when taking the terms in their most technical sense. For example, what is information? We could be talking metaphysics instead of physics.

I would extend option C to say that the limitations of human science (which is implied by the wiggle words "as far as anyone knows") do not allow us to know definitively if information is being transmitted. But it also leaves the door open that human science could advance to the point where we have to revise our statement.


To address one of your embedded subquestions, about your feeling that there is some kind of grammatical rule in play:

Perhaps you are thinking of the exception that proves the rule. The illustrative example given on Wikipedia is a street sign that says "no parking on Sundays", which expresses an exception to the implied rule that parking is allowed on the other six days of the week. So in this case, it seems you have a gut feeling that the word "useful" is an exception that proves the rule that some information is transmitted (otherwise, why wouldn't the speaker simply omit "useful"?).

I would say this device doesn't apply here. It doesn't really fit with scientifically precise language.

  • How so John?.. I think you are pretty close... why wouldn't the speaker simply omit 'useful'?... if there is no information being transmitted... why even mention the type of information?... in fact, this is probably going to be the basis for the answer. – Marco-UandL Apr 29 '16 at 0:53
  • A scientifically precise speaker would have at least a couple of reasons not to simply omit useful: (1) They might not know whether some kind of not-useful information is being transmitted. (2) The stronger statement might not serve some larger point they are trying to make. The scientific way to interpret a statement like "no parking on Sundays" is to allow for the possibility that there is also no parking on other days, but we don't know. – John Y Apr 29 '16 at 18:19
-1

Regarding an event between the interaction of two distant elements, an expert in this field states:

"As far as anyone knows, there is no transmission of any useful information"

Notes

We accept this statement as being truthful, with no attempt to deceive, or mislead...... it is an educational statement, made by an expert who is not setting out to deceive.

This acceptance is a pre-requisite. As contributors have pointed out "language can be fuzzy", or could be structured to be intentionally misleading - which then opens up the possibility for all the other answers (fairly stated).

Therefore, from a genuine statement, we look to glean the maximum correct information.


Question

Can we definitively state that information is being transmitted (that must be useless information)?


The Definitive Answer

If information exists, it is either useless or useful, or it contains both.

If information doesn't exist, it has no categorisation

The expert chooses to describe the information, therefore, the information must exist.

It is described as containing no useful information, therefore, it must contain useless information.

If no information was being transmitted, the expert would not categorise it, because it doesn't exist - no information being transmitted results in a statement:

"As far as anyone knows, there is no transmission of any information"

This logic is highlighted in:

A Rule of Language

Provided by John Y

The exception that proves the rule

Originally derived from legal terminology

Wikipedia Example

A sign that says “parking prohibited on Sundays” (the exception) “proves” that parking is allowed on the other six days of the week (the rule).

John Y Noted: That he felt that this rule didn't apply here, however, for myself it appears to be perfect.


Notes on other answers

While correct for a multitude of scenarios, all are dependent upon the statement being fundamentally misleading, or fuzzy in nature.

To get an answer, we must believe that, as an expert, the guy knows when to state "As far as anyone knows, NO information was transmitted".

If we don't believe this, then the other answers are correct, and we can learn nothing definitively from the statement (other than what is said).

  • "If information doesn't exist, it has no categorization." This is wrong. I can describe unicorns (for example, I can say "All unicorns have a single horn") even though unicorns don't exist. The expert describes what does not exist: useful information. – sumelic Apr 29 '16 at 20:01
  • That is utter nonsense...... why are you even posting about unicorns?.... do you understand the topic?..... are you thinking how the English language is being used by the expert?.......honestly... are you looking for a solution?..... or are you looking for a negative posture?...... Please think about this, and make your mind up... try addressing the actual statement...... that's what I've tried to do..... is that what you are trying to do? – Marco-UandL Apr 29 '16 at 22:41

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.