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[Weird] Science!

PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
edited October 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
So a lot of times, I hear scientifically minded people say that people have an outdated view of scientific fact and scientific method, which form the epistemo-methodical complex which we call science. This is the thread for people to make arguments for the (in?)coherrence of science.

My belief is that science is a method to provide specific data about the domain of empirical reality.

Lets start with that. Is that a correct definition?

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  • seabassseabass Doctor MassachusettsRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    My belief is that science is a method to provide specific data about the domain of empirical reality.

    I'm not sure that data is the goal. Getting at data isn't science, its just observation. Things which explain the data and provide some sort of a predictive model or insight, isn't that what science is?

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  • NeadenNeaden Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Aw man, I'm taking a class on this right now and no longer know what I think. If you look at how science is actually practiced and the big discoveries of our time you find that no theoretical method really works well for them. It frequently is not done by looking at the facts, and a lot of the great scientists were lousy experimentalists. I still think there is such a thing as science, but no longer can define it even a little.

    Edit: Here's some of the problems with your definition. 1. All of our observations require theory. Gallileo had to make the theory that the telescope was better then the human eye before he could make his observations of the moons of Jupiter for instance. 2. More traditional problems with things like sample sizes. You always have to go from small to big in science which doesn't really work a lot of the time. 3. It only seems to be about data, I don't see how making theories really would be called science in your definition, which is a problem to me but maybe not for you.

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  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    My belief is that science is a method to provide specific data about the domain of empirical reality.

    Not exactly.

    Science is a method to evaluate the truth of certain types of claims in (in your terms) the domain of empirical reality. These claims are generally causal, predictive, and explanatory. Ideally, all scientific claims should be predictive and falsifiable, per Karl Popper, but in reality not all claims popularly or even academically held to be "scientific" fit these criteria. So that lends itself to an argument over whether Popper's definition of science is flawed or whether the scientific-ness of such a claim is flawed. I lean towards the latter. See: Theory, String.

    Science does not, strictly speaking, provide data. It relies upon data for verification of claims, and ascribes truth value (or lack thereof) to certain forms of data. However, the collection of data, by itself, is not strictly scientific.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • HF-kunHF-kun __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2008
    Science is the use of repeatable experiments and observations to obtain information about a natural process. Testing if a certain hormone can promote gluconeogenesis by forming an experiment where you inject insulin into rats is science. Debating the capital gains tax and the existence of God on the internet is not science. Physical chemistry is also science. Speaking about ethics is not science. People add a bunch of philosophical nonsense to the word "science", but in reality its simply a tool we use with a fairly boring definition (Of course the subject itself is far from boring though).

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  • seabassseabass Doctor MassachusettsRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Neaden wrote: »
    1. All of our observations require theory. Gallileo had to make the theory that the telescope was better then the human eye before he could make his observations of the moons of Jupiter for instance.

    Science has to be bootstrapped. Thats the whole point. What I do today is going to let some genetics geek compare DNA faster, and that is going to cure cancer, or more likely make an impotence drug. That doesn't make sequence alignment a theory. Alignments are measurable and observable, and the only theory is in ways to do it faster, more accurately, and with less memory. To come back to the example, a telescope being better at viewing distant objects isn't theory. It's observable; it is fact. Optics is the theory, and that's how we build the telescope.
    Neaden wrote: »
    2. More traditional problems with things like sample sizes. You always have to go from small to big in science which doesn't really work a lot of the time.

    This is becoming rapidly less true. Computation and disk space become half as cheap every 18 months. Simulations that had to be run at coarse granularities can be tuned down to a finer mesh, and we get better data resolution. Unless the only place you can get data from is actually outside, or you have limited access to it for whatever reason, it just doesn't seem true. Now, how often is access to data and resources limited? I've never run into it, but I bet deep sea and outer space people have more issues with it than we do.
    Neaden wrote: »
    3. It only seems to be about data, I don't see how making theories really would be called science in your definition, which is a problem to me but maybe not for you.
    I like data. I think that the mark of good science is being able to explain observations, the data on hand, and predict future outcomes. If you're only concern is fitting the observations you have, you're likely to over fit your theories to the data, and get something that isn't a good model of reality.

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  • NeadenNeaden Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Feral wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    My belief is that science is a method to provide specific data about the domain of empirical reality.

    Not exactly.

    Science is a method to evaluate the truth of certain types of claims in (in your terms) the domain of empirical reality. These claims are generally causal, predictive, and explanatory. Ideally, all scientific claims should be predictive and falsifiable, per Karl Popper, but in reality not all claims popularly or even academically held to be "scientific" fit these criteria. So that lends itself to an argument over whether Popper's definition of science is flawed or whether the scientific-ness of such a claim is flawed. I lean towards the latter. See: Theory, String.
    I have two main problems with Popper. One is that a lot of things that I feel are legitamate science he excludes. You use string theory as your example, but you can make a pretty good case that evolution is not a science by his definition. Secondly, lots of good science got falsified at first. Gallileo having no answer to the tower argument is a good example of that. The problem is, something that seem like it is a falsifier might turn out to be nothing more then a bad theory somewhere else. Quine wrote a lot about this.

    seabass wrote: »
    Neaden wrote: »
    1. All of our observations require theory. Gallileo had to make the theory that the telescope was better then the human eye before he could make his observations of the moons of Jupiter for instance.

    Science has to be bootstrapped. Thats the whole point. What I do today is going to let some genetics geek compare DNA faster, and that is going to cure cancer, or more likely make an impotence drug. That doesn't make sequence alignment a theory. Alignments are measurable and observable, and the only theory is in ways to do it faster, more accurately, and with less memory. To come back to the example, a telescope being better at viewing distant objects isn't theory. It's observable; it is fact. Optics is the theory, and that's how we build the telescope.
    The telescope being better at viewing distant objects at Earth is a theory. Gallileo was applying it to things extremely far off. It was not known at the time whether or not they were reliable, so to say that it was a fact that the telescope worked well is not a very accurate representation of the history there.

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  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Neaden wrote: »
    I have two main problems with Popper. One is that a lot of things that I feel are legitamate science he excludes. You use string theory as your example, but you can make a pretty good case that evolution is not a science by his definition.

    You might be able to make a case, but it wouldn't be a good one.

    Yes, Popper once famously said that he felt that natural selection was not scientifically testable. Then he immediately backpedaled and said that parts of it might be testable. Then he eventually recanted the whole comment.

    Popper did not give due respect to the notion of a natural experiment, that you could let nature control an independent variable rather than controlling it yourself. A natural experiment was not testing or falsifying a theory in his eyes, which I think was more of a personal blind spot of his rather than a flaw in his philosophy.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • NeadenNeaden Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Feral wrote: »
    Neaden wrote: »
    I have two main problems with Popper. One is that a lot of things that I feel are legitamate science he excludes. You use string theory as your example, but you can make a pretty good case that evolution is not a science by his definition.

    You might be able to make a case, but it wouldn't be a good one.

    Yes, Popper once famously said that he felt that natural selection was not scientifically testable. Then he immediately backpedaled and said that parts of it might be testable. Then he eventually recanted the whole comment.

    Popper did not give due respect to the notion of a natural experiment, that you could let nature control an independent variable rather than controlling it yourself. A natural experiment was not testing or falsifying a theory in his eyes, which I think was more of a personal blind spot of his rather than a flaw in his philosophy.

    I'm afraid I agree with Popper's original thought on this though. You can never really disprove evolution. At least, I cannot think of a scenario when you could. Keep in mind, this is not meant as an attack on evolution, a theory that I support, but on falsficationism. That also still doesn't answer the question that it may not really be possible to really falsify anything. Or how Falsficationism if followed would have rejected many scientific advances. Kuhn and Lakatos both do a good job or exploring models more fitting with the actual history of science.

    Neaden on
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I need some kind of icon or acronym for What Feral Said.

    WFS?

    Anyway, what Feral said.

    Hard falsifiability all the way.

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  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Neaden wrote: »
    You can never really disprove evolution. At least, I cannot think of a scenario when you could.

    I would argue that that is a result of your own lack of imagination.

    The theory of evolution states that allele frequencies in populations of organisms are subject to change between generations and this change in allele frequencies will result in changes in the biological characteristics (phenotypes) of that population.

    You could falsify it by showing that allele frequencies do not change in populations between generations. You could also falsify it by showing that biological characteristics do not change between generations.

    This would be akin to, for example, falsifying the second law of thermodynamics by showing a closed system in which entropy decreased during a sustained period of time; or the law of gravity by demonstrating an extremely massive object that if released in a vacuum did not fall towards the Earth. The reason we can, in common conversation, call such ideas unfalsifiable is because falsification would require absurd leaps of imagination.

    You're getting caught in a cognitive catch-22. A scientific theory is a statement about reality that has not been falsified and can explain an arbitrarily wide body of evidence. Therefore, to imagine it being falsified would require imagining a piece of evidence that is contrary to what we know about reality. It is, by definition, absurd. This does not mean that the statement is hypothetically unfalsifiable, it just means that it is true. We can still imagine conditions in which it would be falsifiable.

    This can be distinguished from, say, intelligent design, which is truly unfalsifiable - there is no conceivable piece of evidence that would hypothetically show that there is not an invisible "designer" outside of our sensory experience.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • NeadenNeaden Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    But evolution does not say that really, it just says it is likely. If I had a sample of bacteria it is possible that over the course of 100 years the allele frequencies will not chance. The same with the 2nd law of thermodynamics, entropy can decrease in a closed system, it just very very very unlikely. Now if I don't see that allele shift, or if I see entropy increasing in a closed system, that does not falsify evolution or the second law of thermodynamics. According to Popper, that makes it not a science.

    Edit: You also are not answering the other objections to falsificationism, like the Duhem-Quine thesis I mentioned earlier, that it is impossible to test a theory in isolation, you are always testing other theories as well. So if you find that entropy is increasing in your closed system it is an indication that the 2nd law is wrong or an indication that some part of your instrument is wrong.

    Neaden on
  • zakkielzakkiel Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Science has to be bootstrapped. Thats the whole point. What I do today is going to let some genetics geek compare DNA faster, and that is going to cure cancer, or more likely make an impotence drug. That doesn't make sequence alignment a theory. Alignments are measurable and observable, and the only theory is in ways to do it faster, more accurately, and with less memory. To come back to the example, a telescope being better at viewing distant objects isn't theory. It's observable; it is fact. Optics is the theory, and that's how we build the telescope.
    When you are simply elaborating on an existing theory, you can do this. In real physics advances you cannot; they occur in moments of extraordinary insight. Heisenberg describes the process well when he talks about his breakthrough on the problem of apparent quantum trajectories.

    Incidentally, Galileo's work predates a coherent theory of optics (Newton provided that).

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  • noir_bloodnoir_blood Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Bah. I come in to this thread expecting discussion of the 80's movie, or preferably, the 90's sitcom. I leave dissapointed.

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  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Science is the act of generating data (either produced through experiment or observed in a system) and interpreting the data.

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  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    There are more favorable interpretations of data, which lead to theories and models.
    There are less favorable interpretations of data, which lead to quackery.

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  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Neaden wrote: »
    But evolution does not say that really, it just says it is likely. If I had a sample of bacteria it is possible that over the course of 100 years the allele frequencies will not chance.

    Just highly unlikely; hence the need for replication, which you continue to ignore. A single counterexample may fail to falsify a given theory, due to the possibility of flawed equipment or human error or just random chance. However, multiple counterexamples do.
    Neaden wrote: »
    The same with the 2nd law of thermodynamics, entropy can decrease in a closed system, it just very very very unlikely. Now if I don't see that allele shift, or if I see entropy increasing in a closed system, that does not falsify evolution or the second law of thermodynamics. According to Popper, that makes it not a science.

    Popper's definition of science holds; what doesn't hold here is the false dilemma you're creating between science and not-science. In all honesty, Popper made that mistake himself, however we don't need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It is possible for one thesis or one study to be more scientific than another. It is not entirely binary. We can say, for example, that there is an infinitesimal possibility of fluke outliers for any given theory, therefore any given theory is infinitesimally unscientific.
    Neaden wrote: »
    You also are not answering the other objections to falsificationism, like the Duhem-Quine thesis I mentioned earlier, that it is impossible to test a theory in isolation, you are always testing other theories as well.

    That's not a really substantial objection to "falsificationism," though. Not all other theories are going to have a substantial effect on what is being tested; especially if an experiment is well-designed. Newton knew nothing of quantum physics, but for objects in the macroscopic realm at everyday fractions of light speed his laws are just fine. Perfect isolation is not possible, however very close to perfect isolation sometimes is, and 'good enough' isolation usually is. Does that mean that attempting to isolate variables is futile? That a small amount of error invalidates your whole thesis?

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • nescientistnescientist Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Rabbits in the precambrian is a sufficient answer when creationists bring up falsifiability; does that satsify philosophers of science as well?

    nescientist on
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    zakkiel wrote: »
    Science has to be bootstrapped. Thats the whole point. What I do today is going to let some genetics geek compare DNA faster, and that is going to cure cancer, or more likely make an impotence drug. That doesn't make sequence alignment a theory. Alignments are measurable and observable, and the only theory is in ways to do it faster, more accurately, and with less memory. To come back to the example, a telescope being better at viewing distant objects isn't theory. It's observable; it is fact. Optics is the theory, and that's how we build the telescope.
    When you are simply elaborating on an existing theory, you can do this. In real physics advances you cannot; they occur in moments of extraordinary insight. Heisenberg describes the process well when he talks about his breakthrough on the problem of apparent quantum trajectories.
    I don't get what you're saying here, because it sounds like you're saying the theory comes before the data. A moment of extraordinary insight is still bootstrapped by the existence of observable phenomena which guide the interpretation, and more usually many previously unsatisfactory attempts to explain it.

    electricitylikesme on
  • ProPatriaMoriProPatriaMori Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Science is the act of answering questions such that we generate additional questions that really fuck with us.

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  • L*2*G*XL*2*G*X Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I'm prolly ripping this from Feinman, but science is keep asking questions

    Everything else around that is just ways to get better answers, but science is really about the questions.

    L*2*G*X on
  • L|amaL|ama Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Testing ideas through experiment?

    L|ama on
  • NeadenNeaden Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Feral wrote: »
    Neaden wrote: »
    But evolution does not say that really, it just says it is likely. If I had a sample of bacteria it is possible that over the course of 100 years the allele frequencies will not chance.

    Just highly unlikely; hence the need for replication, which you continue to ignore. A single counterexample may fail to falsify a given theory, due to the possibility of flawed equipment or human error or just random chance. However, multiple counterexamples do.
    See this is where i think you have a disconnect. In a strict falsificationist mindset only one counterexample would be neccesary to falsify. Furthermore even multiple ocunterexamples will not truly falsify it. They become more and more unlikely true, but it still is not falsified. I do not think you are really a falsificationist at this point anymore, just a really really really unlikelyist, which may be a valid philosophy but it is not Poppers.

    Feral wrote: »
    Neaden wrote: »
    The same with the 2nd law of thermodynamics, entropy can decrease in a closed system, it just very very very unlikely. Now if I don't see that allele shift, or if I see entropy increasing in a closed system, that does not falsify evolution or the second law of thermodynamics. According to Popper, that makes it not a science.

    Popper's definition of science holds; what doesn't hold here is the false dilemma you're creating between science and not-science. In all honesty, Popper made that mistake himself, however we don't need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It is possible for one thesis or one study to be more scientific than another. It is not entirely binary. We can say, for example, that there is an infinitesimal possibility of fluke outliers for any given theory, therefore any given theory is infinitesimally unscientific.
    Popper's whole thing was to create a binary between science and not-science. He wanted to be able to exclude Freudianism and Marxism from being sciences. If his definition also throws out other valid sciences like thermodynamics, then I think it is a bad definition.
    Feral wrote: »
    Neaden wrote: »
    You also are not answering the other objections to falsificationism, like the Duhem-Quine thesis I mentioned earlier, that it is impossible to test a theory in isolation, you are always testing other theories as well.

    That's not a really substantial objection to "falsificationism," though. Not all other theories are going to have a substantial effect on what is being tested; especially if an experiment is well-designed. Newton knew nothing of quantum physics, but for objects in the macroscopic realm at everyday fractions of light speed his laws are just fine. Perfect isolation is not possible, however very close to perfect isolation sometimes is, and 'good enough' isolation usually is. Does that mean that attempting to isolate variables is futile? That a small amount of error invalidates your whole thesis?
    I really object to this. Things like our understanding of gravity for instance are worked out in large part thanks to things like looking at the movement of the planets, which rely on our theory of optics. Newton is a poor example given that he was, while a genius and very close to the truth, still wrong. Good enough isolation can never be good enough because it always allows for the possibility that your theory was not falsified, which falsificationism relies upon. I mean Popper thought that positive proof had absolutely no place in Science, that only being able to falsify something mattered. This means that any experiment that just shows that something is really likely or unlikely is meaningless in his framework.
    zakkiel wrote: »
    Science has to be bootstrapped. Thats the whole point. What I do today is going to let some genetics geek compare DNA faster, and that is going to cure cancer, or more likely make an impotence drug. That doesn't make sequence alignment a theory. Alignments are measurable and observable, and the only theory is in ways to do it faster, more accurately, and with less memory. To come back to the example, a telescope being better at viewing distant objects isn't theory. It's observable; it is fact. Optics is the theory, and that's how we build the telescope.
    When you are simply elaborating on an existing theory, you can do this. In real physics advances you cannot; they occur in moments of extraordinary insight. Heisenberg describes the process well when he talks about his breakthrough on the problem of apparent quantum trajectories.
    I don't get what you're saying here, because it sounds like you're saying the theory comes before the data. A moment of extraordinary insight is still bootstrapped by the existence of observable phenomena which guide the interpretation, and more usually many previously unsatisfactory attempts to explain it.

    As I mentioned before the theory does have to come before the data. Gallileo theorized that the telescope was more accurate then the naked eye before he could take his observations. At a most basic level you have the theorize that your senses are accurate before you can observe anything. When I send some DNA in to be sequenced I am operating on the theory that their methods are correct and accurate.
    L|ama wrote: »
    Testing ideas through experiment?

    What about not experimental observation? Darwin made the theory of evolution through observing animals, not by doing experiments.

    Neaden on
  • PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Science is the act of generating data (either produced through experiment or observed in a system) and interpreting the data.

    Now what do you mean when you say "system?"

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  • zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Science is the act of generating data (either produced through experiment or observed in a system) and interpreting the data.

    Now what do you mean when you say "system?"

    He probably means an open system.

    Science is applying scientific methodology in search of theories and hypothesis or if you wish, truths & plausible explanations.

    zeeny on
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Neaden wrote: »
    Me wrote:
    I don't get what you're saying here, because it sounds like you're saying the theory comes before the data. A moment of extraordinary insight is still bootstrapped by the existence of observable phenomena which guide the interpretation, and more usually many previously unsatisfactory attempts to explain it.

    As I mentioned before the theory does have to come before the data. Gallileo theorized that the telescope was more accurate then the naked eye before he could take his observations. At a most basic level you have the theorize that your senses are accurate before you can observe anything. When I send some DNA in to be sequenced I am operating on the theory that their methods are correct and accurate.

    You are seriously abusing the term "theory" in a thread about science. Hypothesis comes before Data. Theory comes after Data.

    Gallileo hypothesized the telescope would be a more accurate instrument before be built it. But the hypothesis was built on observations regarding lenses. However as was noted, we didn't have an actual theory of optics till Newton.

    At the most basic level regarding our senses we don't have hypothesis or theory - we ultimately have a logical assumption that our senses do not lie. This is based off consistency - they seem to behave consistently, at least at the moment.

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  • HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Science is the act of generating data (either produced through experiment or observed in a system) and interpreting the data.


    I disagree. Science is the process of applying the scientific method. A simplified version of the scientific method is that you create a hypothesis, you test the hypothesis (and thus the generate data), and if the hypothesis holds then you have a theory.

    The word theory is used because there is always a factor of uncertainty. That is, no theory is absolute. A theory may be disproved by invaldiation of the hypothesis. In some cases, this leads to abandoment of the theory, such as Eugenics. In other cases, this leads to modification to the theory, such as special versus general relativity. In yet other cases, we continue to use the theory despite the fact that it has been disproven because except under special circumstances it is a valid enough approximation. For example, Newtonian Motion.

    A large problem I have with modern "science" is that there is a mis-application of terminology. For example, if someone talks about theoretical science, they aren't talking about scientific theories at all. Instead, they are talking about work with hypothesis that have been untested.

    This has lead us down a number of paths that may prove to be dead ends, because many hypothesis's (hpyotheese?) are being accepted as scientific theories despite a lack of evidence backing them up. Most of the hypothesis's are based on good mathematical models, but that doesn't mean it's a good model of the world.

    Examples of this include black hole theories and certain aspects of quantum mechanics.

    I personally do not accept the Theory of Evolution as defined previously as a valid scientific theory, as the predictions it makes are too vague. It essentially predicts that within subsequent generations (time steps) of a species, there will be change. Congratulations, I can also tell you with an extremely high degree of confidence that there will be change in the stock market tommorrow. But that doesn't tell me where to invest. Global Warming is commonly accepted as being science, which I feel is a misconception, as again it makes no accurate predictions. In fact, many climatologists have changed their positions from predicting global warming to predicting climate change, because it's a safer bet. Knowing how a system will change is very important to good science.

    Newtonian Motion, on the other hand, is an example of a good scientific theory. One has to keep in mind that it has certain limitations in applicability when using it, of course. But Newtonian Motion can be used to very accurately describe the motion of an automobile.

    Each time you perform an act that demonstrate a theory, then you are giving more validation for the theory. One could in fact view that each time I drive my automobile, I am testing the Hypothesis of Newtownian Motion and demonstrating that it is an applicable theory.

    Heffling on
  • stiliststilist Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Global warming is not a good example, because ‘climate change’ originally started as a Bush/Republican campaign to downplay the significance. Ironically, it is the better term.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/persuaders/

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  • Grim SqueakerGrim Squeaker Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Rabbits in the precambrian is a sufficient answer when creationists bring up falsifiability; does that satsify philosophers of science as well?

    While it would raise some serious questions on evolutionary history, it wouldn't effect the process of evolution itself. We would have to revise our ideas on the evolution of rabbits (and mammals in general), but not the idea that populations change over time and may result in new species.

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  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Heffling wrote: »
    A large problem I have with modern "science" is that there is a mis-application of terminology. For example, if someone talks about theoretical science, they aren't talking about scientific theories at all. Instead, they are talking about work with hypothesis that have been untested.
    To be facetious, a large problem I have with your post is you say this and then go on to do exactly that.
    Heffling wrote: »
    This has lead us down a number of paths that may prove to be dead ends, because many hypothesis's (hpyotheese?) are being accepted as scientific theories despite a lack of evidence backing them up. Most of the hypothesis's are based on good mathematical models, but that doesn't mean it's a good model of the world.

    Examples of this include black hole theories and certain aspects of quantum mechanics.
    Care to elaborate? Because I feel we're 5 minutes from someone saying "string theory" and forgetting that it's just the most publically popularized idea, not one with the greatest following in the scientific community and that their are many competing ideas.
    Heffling wrote: »
    I personally do not accept the Theory of Evolution as defined previously as a valid scientific theory, as the predictions it makes are too vague. It essentially predicts that within subsequent generations (time steps) of a species, there will be change.
    I suggest not commenting on a theory as being "too vague" if you clearly have never read any actual description of it but rather are commenting what you know from cultural sources. I suggest starting with wikipedia. Wiki Modern Synthesis here.
    Heffling wrote: »
    Global Warming is commonly accepted as being science, which I feel is a misconception, as again it makes no accurate predictions. In fact, many climatologists have changed their positions from predicting global warming to predicting climate change, because it's a safer bet. Knowing how a system will change is very important to good science.
    The investigation and modeling of natural and anthropological climate change is science. This is where my primary contention with your earlier claim about using terms are - you muddy them all up here. You are treating climate change by your earlier idea of what a theory is, but then saying it's "not science". Theory is not science - in fact it's the result of science. Climate change is not a theory, and in fact to my knowledge no attempted description of a unified theory of climate change yet exists (chiefly because it's a hell of a lot of modeling and there is a lot of contention over the parameters - I would not be surprised if in the future climatic theory becomes whichever model proves most robust and general).

    electricitylikesme on
  • Grim SqueakerGrim Squeaker Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Heffling wrote: »

    I personally do not accept the Theory of Evolution as defined previously as a valid scientific theory, as the predictions it makes are too vague. It essentially predicts that within subsequent generations (time steps) of a species, there will be change.

    For a long time, it was thought that species were fixed and did not change. Furthermore, it's not the big idea that they change, but how they change.
    Congratulations, I can also tell you with an extremely high degree of confidence that there will be change in the stock market tommorrow.

    Since tomorrow would be a Saturday, no there won't be change. :P
    Global Warming is commonly accepted as being science, which I feel is a misconception, as again it makes no accurate predictions. In fact, many climatologists have changed their positions from predicting global warming to predicting climate change, because it's a safer bet. Knowing how a system will change is very important to good science.

    Global Warming/Climate Change does make predictions. Several of the long term predictions are hard to verify, as they're several decades from now. However, the models that are used in these predictions can be tested by short term predictions or historical data. Because it's such a political hot area, climate change is actually an area of science where there's huge amount of testing.

    Grim Squeaker on
  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Heffling wrote: »
    Science is the act of generating data (either produced through experiment or observed in a system) and interpreting the data.


    I disagree. Science is the process of applying the scientific method. A simplified version of the scientific method is that you create a hypothesis, you test the hypothesis (and thus the generate data), and if the hypothesis holds then you have a theory.
    You do realize that most discoveries were never "I have a hypothesis that this will happen, let's see what happens." It was more along the lines of "I'm running an experiment on culture dishes, what the hell... why is there a an inhibitory zone in the plate?" Hence penicillin.

    What I'm trying to loosely say is that your middle school definition of the scientific method is completely wrong.

    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud on
  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    You also might want to look up lateral gene transfer and plasmid exchange. MRSA didn't statically appear, it evolved as it was selected by our misuse and overuse of antibiotics.

    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud on
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Neaden wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Neaden wrote: »
    But evolution does not say that really, it just says it is likely. If I had a sample of bacteria it is possible that over the course of 100 years the allele frequencies will not chance.

    Just highly unlikely; hence the need for replication, which you continue to ignore. A single counterexample may fail to falsify a given theory, due to the possibility of flawed equipment or human error or just random chance. However, multiple counterexamples do.
    See this is where i think you have a disconnect. In a strict falsificationist mindset only one counterexample would be neccesary to falsify. Furthermore even multiple ocunterexamples will not truly falsify it. They become more and more unlikely true, but it still is not falsified. I do not think you are really a falsificationist at this point anymore, just a really really really unlikelyist, which may be a valid philosophy but it is not Poppers.

    I don't know what you mean by "unlikelyist" as I've never seen that term before.

    I also don't know whether you're arguing against me or against Popper at this point. I don't agree with everything Popper said. I hold that falsifiability is a necessary condition of a theory being scientific and is the most useful yardstick to distinguish scientific claims from non-scientific claims. I do not hold that the demarcation between scientific and unscientific is absolute; there are shades of grey.
    Neaden wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Neaden wrote: »
    Now if I don't see that allele shift, or if I see entropy increasing in a closed system, that does not falsify evolution or the second law of thermodynamics. According to Popper, that makes it not a science.
    Popper's definition of science holds; what doesn't hold here is the false dilemma you're creating between science and not-science. In all honesty, Popper made that mistake himself, however we don't need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
    Popper's whole thing was to create a binary between science and not-science.

    Didn't I... didn't I just address exactly that objection?

    It's like I mentioned Popper twice because I think his definition of what makes sciences scientific is useful and you've gone all "rarrrrgh" on me because you hate Popper just so damn much. I'm not a Popperbot.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Heffling wrote: »
    Science is the act of generating data (either produced through experiment or observed in a system) and interpreting the data.


    I disagree. Science is the process of applying the scientific method. A simplified version of the scientific method is that you create a hypothesis, you test the hypothesis (and thus the generate data), and if the hypothesis holds then you have a theory.
    You do realize that most discoveries were never "I have a hypothesis that this will happen, let's see what happens." It was more along the lines of "I'm running an experiment on culture dishes, what the hell... why is there a an inhibitory zone in the plate?" Hence penicillin.

    What I'm trying to loosely say is that your middle school definition of the scientific method is completely wrong.

    You can't go from 'flash of insight' to 'scientific theory' without some good old disciplined experimentation in between.

    Fleming didn't discover an inhibitory zone and then rush straight to journals. He tried cultivating the mold, tested it on different bacteria, isolating the antibacterial agent, etc. And before it was used as an antibiotic in humans, other researchers performed additional experiments and tests with it.

    Frankly, I think too much emphasis is given to Great Man Theory in studying the history of scientific discoveries, and as a corollary there is also too much emphasis on the flashes of genius among great men. We wouldn't have penicillin without the hard work of a lot of people before and after Fleming; the story of the petri dishes in the trash makes a nice legend, but it does not tell the whole story, and most of the real story is pretty boring.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • CervetusCervetus Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Heffling wrote: »
    Science is the act of generating data (either produced through experiment or observed in a system) and interpreting the data.


    I disagree. Science is the process of applying the scientific method. A simplified version of the scientific method is that you create a hypothesis, you test the hypothesis (and thus the generate data), and if the hypothesis holds then you have a theory.
    You do realize that most discoveries were never "I have a hypothesis that this will happen, let's see what happens." It was more along the lines of "I'm running an experiment on culture dishes, what the hell... why is there a an inhibitory zone in the plate?" Hence penicillin.

    What I'm trying to loosely say is that your middle school definition of the scientific method is completely wrong.

    Discovering Penicillin was not science.

    Flemming discovered by fluke that the growth of bacteria had been stopped, and then the science began, as he made the hypothesis that it was a Penicillium mold that did it, and after years of data collection and analyzation it became a theory that the compound penicillin would serve as an antibiotic.

    Edit: Aww balls, that's what I get for not knowing more off the top of my head.

    Cervetus on
  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Cervetus wrote: »

    Discovering Penicillin was not science.

    Flemming discovered by fluke that the growth of bacteria had been stopped, and then the science began, as he made the hypothesis that it was a Penicillium mold that did it, and after years of data collection and analyzation it became a theory that the compound penicillin would serve as an antibiotic.
    Oh okay, I wasn't aware discovery wasn't science. Thanks for clearing that up.

    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud on
  • CervetusCervetus Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Cervetus wrote: »

    Discovering Penicillin was not science.

    Flemming discovered by fluke that the growth of bacteria had been stopped, and then the science began, as he made the hypothesis that it was a Penicillium mold that did it, and after years of data collection and analyzation it became a theory that the compound penicillin would serve as an antibiotic.
    Oh okay, I wasn't aware discovery wasn't science. Thanks for clearing that up.

    In the strict sense of discovery meaning stumbling upon something through no intelligent process, as you used it, no it's not science.

    Cervetus on
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Cervetus wrote: »

    Discovering Penicillin was not science.

    Flemming discovered by fluke that the growth of bacteria had been stopped, and then the science began, as he made the hypothesis that it was a Penicillium mold that did it, and after years of data collection and analyzation it became a theory that the compound penicillin would serve as an antibiotic.
    Oh okay, I wasn't aware discovery wasn't science. Thanks for clearing that up.

    I can't tell if you're being facetious or not.

    What you call "discovery" or I call a "flash of insight" is not, strictly speaking, science. It may lead to scientific inquiry, it may happen in a scientific lab, it may happen to a scientist, but that flash of insight was not science any more than laundering a labcoat is science.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Heffling wrote: »
    A large problem I have with modern "science" is that there is a mis-application of terminology. For example, if someone talks about theoretical science, they aren't talking about scientific theories at all. Instead, they are talking about work with hypothesis that have been untested.
    To be facetious, a large problem I have with your post is you say this and then go on to do exactly that.

    In some ways you are correct. I refered to some items as theories, such as global warming, that I should have reffered to as hypothesis's. Can you clarify in what other ways you feel I am misusing terminology? It's rather hard to either defend my post or improve my future writings if all I get is an attack on the basis that I use poor wording.
    Heffling wrote: »
    This has lead us down a number of paths that may prove to be dead ends, because many hypothesis's (hpyotheese?) are being accepted as scientific theories despite a lack of evidence backing them up. Most of the hypothesis's are based on good mathematical models, but that doesn't mean it's a good model of the world.

    Examples of this include black hole theories and certain aspects of quantum mechanics.
    Care to elaborate? Because I feel we're 5 minutes from someone saying "string theory" and forgetting that it's just the most publically popularized idea, not one with the greatest following in the scientific community and that their are many competing ideas.

    Sure. Virtual particles - Items that are by definition not directly observable. Using the Casmir (sp?) effect to predict radiation from black holes.
    Heffling wrote: »
    I personally do not accept the Theory of Evolution as defined previously as a valid scientific theory, as the predictions it makes are too vague. It essentially predicts that within subsequent generations (time steps) of a species, there will be change.
    I suggest not commenting on a theory as being "too vague" if you clearly have never read any actual description of it but rather are commenting what you know from cultural sources. I suggest starting with wikipedia. Wiki Modern Synthesis here.

    To quote your Wikipedia link:
    In biology, evolution is the process of change in the inherited traits of a population of organisms from one generation to the next.

    I'm certainly no expert in biology or Evolution, so I have to ask, what predictions other than change does Evolution make? If all it predicts is change, then I have to call it bad science.
    Heffling wrote: »
    Global Warming is commonly accepted as being science, which I feel is a misconception, as again it makes no accurate predictions. In fact, many climatologists have changed their positions from predicting global warming to predicting climate change, because it's a safer bet. Knowing how a system will change is very important to good science.
    The investigation and modeling of natural and anthropological climate change is science. This is where my primary contention with your earlier claim about using terms are - you muddy them all up here. You are treating climate change by your earlier idea of what a theory is, but then saying it's "not science". Theory is not science - in fact it's the result of science. Climate change is not a theory, and in fact to my knowledge no attempted description of a unified theory of climate change yet exists (chiefly because it's a hell of a lot of modeling and there is a lot of contention over the parameters - I would not be surprised if in the future climatic theory becomes whichever model proves most robust and general).

    I would argue that climatology (I don't want to call it climate change for reasons previously posted) is not good science on the basis that the models are not making predictions that match the observations. Thus, the hypothesis are not becoming theories.

    I certainly agree that academics and others working in climatology are performing science. That is, they are applying the scientific method. They simply have not at this time generated an accurate model. What I've read (mostly in the news, which you can argue is culture, but I would argue affects everything) is people using scare tactics by showing a world undergoing massive warming or other massive change that destroys their lives. However, the hypothesis cannot back up such predictions. How many people were claiming that the hurricanes in the year after Katrina/Rita would be even worse than those before, only to find out that it was a very mild hurricane season?

    It's hard for me to accept someone's prediction that in 100 years the polar ice caps will be melted and the seas will have risen by five meters or more when we can't even accurately predict the weather a week from now.

    What's even worse is that this bad science is being used to guide political policymaking. Look at how much governments are restricting man-made carbon emmisions when it has been demonstrated that:

    1) Carbon (CO2 and other forms) retains less than 1% of the thermal energy in the atmosphere (water retains almost all of the thermal energy).
    2) Temperature trends more accurately follow a combination of sun-spot and volcanic activity
    3) Man accounts for less than 1% of carbon in the air.

    So, bad science can have a huge cost.

    Heffling on
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Heffling wrote: »
    'm certainly no expert in biology or Evolution, so I have to ask, what predictions other than change does Evolution make? If all it predicts is change, then I have to call it bad science.

    Why? Why would that make it bad science?

    (And, by the way, evolution is a very complex theory; more specifically a complex set of interrelated theories. It doesn't just predict "change," but patterns and types of change, rates of change, methods of change, speciation due to change, etc.)

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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