Science doesn't exist

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

Science doesn't exist

Postby Incitatus on March 29th, 2014, 9:48 pm 

What do Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Karl Jung, Sigmund Freud and Kikunae Ikeda have in common? Nothing....absolutely nothing, other than they were all interested in exploring their reality, intellectually, relatively. They markedly differ in their methods, in their field of inquiry, in their conclusions, and yet, they're all scientists doing science, presumably. In theory, according to philosophers of science and pop scientists, a scientist is someone who tests their hypothesis by conducting experiments and drawing logical conclusions from them, but is that what they do? No, that's what some of them do. Not all of them are acquainted with formal logic, and few of them with metaphysics and epistemology, which I think one needs to have a grasp of, in order to know how to apply logic. Not all of them test their theories by performing experiments, some merely theorize, sometimes drawing from other peoples experiments, sometimes drawing from mathematics, and sometimes drawing from no experiments and no mathematics at all. The word science is ultra, mega ambiguous. To me, scientist means something like academic/intellectual, and nothing more.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby Natural ChemE on March 29th, 2014, 10:21 pm 

Incitatus,

Welcome to the forums!

It sounds like all academics look the same to you. There really are differences - Einstein and Marx were very different people - but you either can't see them or don't care for them. Which is fine; I'd guess that the differences don't impact your life, so why should you care?

I'd just point out that there's a difference between not picking up on differences and them not existing.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby ComplexityofChaos on March 29th, 2014, 11:38 pm 

Incitatus » March 29th, 2014, 8:48 pm wrote:What do Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Karl Jung, Sigmund Freud and Kikunae Ikeda have in common? Nothing....absolutely nothing, other than they were all interested in exploring their reality, intellectually, relatively. They markedly differ in their methods, in their field of inquiry, in their conclusions, and yet, they're all scientists doing science, presumably. In theory, according to philosophers of science and pop scientists, a scientist is someone who tests their hypothesis by conducting experiments and drawing logical conclusions from them, but is that what they do? No, that's what some of them do. Not all of them are acquainted with formal logic, and few of them with metaphysics and epistemology, which I think one needs to have a grasp of, in order to know how to apply logic. Not all of them test their theories by performing experiments, some merely theorize, sometimes drawing from other peoples experiments, sometimes drawing from mathematics, and sometimes drawing from no experiments and no mathematics at all. The word science is ultra, mega ambiguous. To me, scientist means something like academic/intellectual, and nothing more.


You made a false assumption in stating that all of these people were doing science. They weren't. Marx most definitely was not doing science, neither was Freud. Jung? Nope. Weber? Nope. Albert Einstein? definitely. Darwin? Probably. Ikeda? Have know idea who that is.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby Marshall on March 29th, 2014, 11:53 pm 

Wittgenstein used the example of the word "game"

What do all activities we call "games" have in common, that distinguishes them from NON-games?

Can you say? Probably you cannot think of a defining characteristic. He said that there are a bunch of FAMILY RESEMBLANCES, features that some but not all of the family share. Overlapping. So any two chosen at random share some of the family resemblances but not necessarily all.

He pointed that out with examples of games.

What do all activities we call "sciences" have in common?

In part the concept is CONVENTIONAL and in part it is based on SELF-SELECTING COMMUNITIES and on TRADITIONS.

There is no hard and fast rule, no prescriptive verbal definition, of a bunch of words which MUST apply for someone to be a scientist, or for some activity to be Science.

Same with games, more or less.

So I would say that your title is FALSE. The sciences obviously exist and are recognized as such. (psych, econ, physics, sociology, biology, animal behavior, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, anthropology, geology, paleontology, etc….)
All these activities exist, and the self-selecting membership communities that in effect define those activities exist.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby ComplexityofChaos on March 30th, 2014, 12:17 am 

Marshall » March 29th, 2014, 10:53 pm wrote:Wittgenstein used the example of the word "game"

What do all activities we call "games" have in common, that distinguishes them from NON-games?

Can you say? Probably you cannot think of a defining characteristic. He said that there are a bunch of FAMILY RESEMBLANCES, features that some but not all of the family share. Overlapping. So any two chosen at random share some of the family resemblances but not necessarily all.

He pointed that out with examples of games.

What do all activities we call "sciences" have in common?

In part the concept is CONVENTIONAL and in part it is based on SELF-SELECTING COMMUNITIES and on TRADITIONS.

There is no hard and fast rule, no prescriptive verbal definition, of a bunch of words which MUST apply for someone to be a scientist, or for some activity to be Science.

Same with games, more or less.

So I would say that your title is FALSE. The sciences obviously exist and are recognized as such. (psych, econ, physics, sociology, biology, animal behavior, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, anthropology, geology, paleontology, etc….)
All these activities exist, and the self-selecting membership communities that in effect define those activities exist.


Why would you assume that it is "obvious" that "psych, econ...sociology...anthropology" are sciences? I think the status of these disciplines as sciences is very much a debatable issue, not a claim that is "obvious" in any way.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby Paralith on March 30th, 2014, 2:00 pm 

Personally, I don't find the definition of science to be so hard to pin down.

Science is a method of understanding the physical world whereby you imagine/create/develop multiple competing hypotheses to explain a certain observation or pattern in the physical world, then test the necessary predictions of those hypotheses against empirical data to see which ones you can rule out as not true, and which ones remain as possible truths.

There are some scientists/science fields that spend a very large amount of time on the hypothesis part - people who focus on developing theoretical models and the like. A model is just a hypothesis, if a very complex one. It is a set of mechanisms which could possibly yield a certain set of observed patterns/facts. While an individual theoretician may never personally test out their own model, to be empirically tested is the ultimate destiny of any theoretical model.

If the status of psychology, economics, sociology, or anthropology are debatable, it's more because of the humans who have described themselves as psychologists, economists, etc. All of these topics can be studied with scientific methodology. All of these topics are studied with scientific methodology by at least some people within those fields. Perhaps this is part of Incitatus' feeling of ambiguity, if all of those men he listed at one point called themselves scientists. That doesn't necessarily mean they actually did science according to this modern definition I'm using, or that all of their work was scientific even if some of it was.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby TheVat on March 30th, 2014, 3:57 pm 

Wittgenstein's "family resemblance" approach might be too broad for science, as Paralith just demonstrated by giving a pretty tight prescriptive definition of science. I kind of agree that some fields do have their strays, who get lost in untested models and, as individuals, never get around to the empirical testing.

Anthropologists are reminded of the need not to go too far beyond what is observed, by the classic joke about the anthrop. who tries to learn the language of a newly-discovered tribe....he points at a tree and says "What is that called?" and a native says "Yongo!" Then he points at a rock. "Yongo!" he is told. Intrigued, he points at a pile of sea shells, "and this?" Rather crossly, the native says, "Yongo!" Then he indicates a dung heap. "Yongo," says the native, looking around for an excuse to leave. The anthrop. points at a pig which is foraging nearby. "Yongo," says the native, a note of weariness creeping in to his voice. The anthrop. goes back to his hut, where he is staying with his wife. "Darling," he cries, "I think I've discovered a remarkable belief system, in which the oneness of all physical things is recognized and reflected in language!" He describes his interview to her and how Yongo appears to be an all-embracing noun. "Perhaps, dear, you should ask him the word for finger!" she says.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby ComplexityofChaos on March 30th, 2014, 4:52 pm 

Braininvat » March 30th, 2014, 2:57 pm wrote:Wittgenstein's "family resemblance" approach might be too broad for science, as Paralith just demonstrated by giving a pretty tight prescriptive definition of science. I kind of agree that some fields do have their strays, who get lost in untested models and, as individuals, never get around to the empirical testing.

Anthropologists are reminded of the need not to go too far beyond what is observed, by the classic joke about the anthrop. who tries to learn the language of a newly-discovered tribe....he points at a tree and says "What is that called?" and a native says "Yongo!" Then he points at a rock. "Yongo!" he is told. Intrigued, he points at a pile of sea shells, "and this?" Rather crossly, the native says, "Yongo!" Then he indicates a dung heap. "Yongo," says the native, looking around for an excuse to leave. The anthrop. points at a pig which is foraging nearby. "Yongo," says the native, a note of weariness creeping in to his voice. The anthrop. goes back to his hut, where he is staying with his wife. "Darling," he cries, "I think I've discovered a remarkable belief system, in which the oneness of all physical things is recognized and reflected in language!" He describes his interview to her and how Yongo appears to be an all-embracing noun. "Perhaps, dear, you should ask him the word for finger!" she says.


It is not a question of a few strays, the so-called soft-sciences are not sciences. These so-called sciences have been around for centuries and have yet to produce a single law of human behavior. In economics, the claim is that supply and demand determines prices, but there are numerous cases where even that is untrue. Sometimes increasing one's selling price gives buyers the belief that what they are purchasing is worth a lot, and the increase in price raises demand. If these disciplines were sciences, then they should be able to produce at least one scientific law. It hasn't happened.

They are not sciences and never will be because it is impossible to make objective measurements in these fileds. Take economics, the soft-"science" with probably the most respect out of all the other so-called soft'sciences. A standard measurement in this so-called science is gross domestic product. This is supposedly a measure of the wealth an economy produces, one adds up the values of the final sales of goods and services and, there we go, "science." So, if I pay $15.00 for a haircut, or $1,500.00 for a scalper ticket for a concert or Super Bowl, we add either $15.00 or $1,500.00 to GDP. But, in what way is this meaningful? How is my subjective valuation of a super bowl ticket, or a haircut, representative of value for the entire economy? For many other people, they would not take the super bowl ticket even for free. There is a serious flaw in the very meaurements that these so-called sciences make. And if you can't make objective measurements, you can't even get out of the starting blocks as a science.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby ComplexityofChaos on March 30th, 2014, 4:56 pm 

Paralith » March 30th, 2014, 1:00 pm wrote:Personally, I don't find the definition of science to be so hard to pin down.

Science is a method of understanding the physical world whereby you imagine/create/develop multiple competing hypotheses to explain a certain observation or pattern in the physical world, then test the necessary predictions of those hypotheses against empirical data to see which ones you can rule out as not true, and which ones remain as possible truths.

There are some scientists/science fields that spend a very large amount of time on the hypothesis part - people who focus on developing theoretical models and the like. A model is just a hypothesis, if a very complex one. It is a set of mechanisms which could possibly yield a certain set of observed patterns/facts. While an individual theoretician may never personally test out their own model, to be empirically tested is the ultimate destiny of any theoretical model.

If the status of psychology, economics, sociology, or anthropology are debatable, it's more because of the humans who have described themselves as psychologists, economists, etc. All of these topics can be studied with scientific methodology. All of these topics are studied with scientific methodology by at least some people within those fields. Perhaps this is part of Incitatus' feeling of ambiguity, if all of those men he listed at one point called themselves scientists. That doesn't necessarily mean they actually did science according to this modern definition I'm using, or that all of their work was scientific even if some of it was.


You are assuming that science can be defined in terms of a method that falsifies statements. Yet, many scientific theories cannot be falsified with an experiment. Try falsifying the second law of thermodynamics or conservation of energy. If an experiment were done showing that energy was not conserved, people would think the experiment was done incorrectly, or that there is some energy out there we don't know about yet.

There are also problems trying to figure out how to falsify probability claims.

But, even if we assume, for the sake of argument, that the scientific method is confined to falsification, how would this make any social science a science? It is one thing to go through the motions of a science, and quite another to produce actual results. Until these so-called sciences produce actual laws, they are not entitled to the label of science.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby AllShips on March 30th, 2014, 5:28 pm 

I've done quite a bit of reading into the so-called "Scientific Method" or, possibly, lack thereof.

Is there such a thing? Well, people who don't know much about it (and that includes many scientists) tend to offer a glib - "Of course there is" - simply regurgitating common grapevine knowledge.

People who have seriously investigated the matter - and that means philosophers of science - are split. Some say yes, but perhaps we haven't identified it yet. Some say no - most famously Paul Feyerabend. Feyerabend holds, as the opening post in this thread suggests, anything you take to be The Scientific Method will be confuted by a study of historical episodes universally regarded to be "good science". You simply won't find a fit, he claims.

One thing all knowledgeable researchers agree on, I daresay, is that The Scientific Method, it it exists at all, is NOT the kind of simplistic 4-7 step mechanical "cookbook" nonsense that we were probably all brought up on, and still dismayingly prevalent in the mass media.

Science fans who know a bit more about the topic, I've found, tend to be a bit more cagey these days : they recognize that the traditional 1. Observe 2 Form hypothesis 3 test hypothesis etc etc is woefully inadequate. Thus they might assert that The Scientific Method is actually the collective name for a variety of methods and techniques.

This approach seems to me to defeat the purpose. We could, of course, go to the extreme and simply declare that TSM is simply ANY rationale or technique employed by scientists. Now we can be quite certain that the beast exists, but the whole POINT of trying to identify the essence of science - what it is that unifies and characterizes science thereby distinguishing it from other activities - is lost.

Two quotes from Peter Medawar:-

"Darwin's self-deception is one that nearly all scientists practice, for they are not in the habit of thinking about matters of methodological policy. Ask a scientist what he conceives the scientific method to be, and he will adopt an expression that is at once solemn and shifty-eyed: solemn, because he feels he ought to declare an opinion; shifty-eyed because he is wondering how to conceal the fact that he has no opinion to declare. If taunted he would probably mumble something about 'Induction' and 'Establishing the Laws of Nature', but if anyone working in a laboratory professed to be trying to establish Laws of Nature by induction we should begin to think he was overdue for leave."

""You must admit that this adds up to an extraordinary state of affairs. Science, broadly considered, is incomparably the most successful enterprise human beings have ever engaged upon; yet the methodology that has presumably made it so, when propounded by learned laymen, is not attended to by scientists, and when propounded by scientists is a misrepresentation of what they do. Only a minority of scientists have received instruction in scientific methodology, and those that have done seem no better off."

And one from a marvellous book called "Theories of Scientific Method" by Nola & Sankey:-

" It has become fashionable in some quarters to dismiss scientific method as an outmoded topic of little relevance to contemporary studies of science. Some see the theory of scientific method as a futile exercise in philosophical abstraction that has been shown by historical and sociological studies to have little relevance to the actual practice of science. For them, the work of Kuhn, Feyerabend, or the strong programme and other sociologically based approaches spells the end of the theory of method.

As indicated at the outset, we beg to differ with this negative assessment of the methodology of science. It may be true that some simple-minded accounts of method have been shown to be unsustainable by historical studies of theory change or sociological studies of scientific practice. But the wholesale dismissal of the project of the methodology of science is premature to say the least. In fact, some of the studies that deny a role for methodology employ principles of method in making their claims. As we have sought to show in this book, the study of the methodology of science and the development of sophisticated and realistic theories of method is very much alive and well. The area is the focus of much vigorous and productive research."
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby Paralith on March 30th, 2014, 8:06 pm 

Uff - I simply lack the energy or the desire to get into yet another one of these arguments.

The practice of science will always fall short of the purest ideal, though every practicing scientist will strive towards that ideal as best they can. And as such that ideal is a reasonable, practical method for determining what a scientist is and what they do, and to conclude that science is a field that truly exists. I have yet to see what use these extended arguments have for practicing scientists in any real sense, other than being honest with themselves and others about the limitations of science. Our last conversation was interesting, AllShips, but I don't see how this one will be any different.

I think it is a strange arbitrary judgment to claim that some aspects of the physical world are within scientific approach while others are not. If you are starting from the position that "soft" sciences are incapable of being scientific, all I will say is that I strongly disagree, but I've banged my head against that wall before and have no interest in doing so again.

Though I find it weird, Complexity, that you criticize anthropology et al for not coming up with any laws of human behavior [though I would argue that behavioral ecology based on evolution has plenty of candidates], then turn around and criticize laws of physics for not being scientific. So are laws a hallmark of science or of non-science? Or both?
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby owleye on March 30th, 2014, 8:30 pm 

Allships....

That scientists aren't adopting a philosophical framework about the work they do doesn't imply that they don't know what constitutes the work they do. They might not be able to reach a cohesive understanding that would satisfy Plato, but they know when individuals have crossed a line, engaging in non-science, if not with specificity, but instead form a process of peer-review. The scientific method is an ideal, one from which, humans being who they are, will stray, but as it is now an international voice, one that doesn't exist within a hierarchical structure, the movement of science is toward advancement, not going around in circles, or coming to a halt on the basis that someone has spoken.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby owleye on March 30th, 2014, 8:35 pm 

Incitatus » March 29th, 2014, 5:48 pm wrote:In theory, according to philosophers of science and pop scientists, a scientist is someone who tests their hypothesis by conducting experiments and drawing logical conclusions from them, but is that what they do?


Straw man argument. Who is this "philosopher of science" or "pop scientist"? It sounds like something you've made up just so you can knock it down.

Trying giving your own words a second look. You might gain some respect if you did. Otherwise, you'll just be considered some drive-by troll.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby ComplexityofChaos on March 30th, 2014, 9:41 pm 

Paralith » March 30th, 2014, 7:06 pm wrote:Uff - I simply lack the energy or the desire to get into yet another one of these arguments.

The practice of science will always fall short of the purest ideal, though every practicing scientist will strive towards that ideal as best they can. And as such that ideal is a reasonable, practical method for determining what a scientist is and what they do, and to conclude that science is a field that truly exists. I have yet to see what use these extended arguments have for practicing scientists in any real sense, other than being honest with themselves and others about the limitations of science. Our last conversation was interesting, AllShips, but I don't see how this one will be any different.

I think it is a strange arbitrary judgment to claim that some aspects of the physical world are within scientific approach while others are not. If you are starting from the position that "soft" sciences are incapable of being scientific, all I will say is that I strongly disagree, but I've banged my head against that wall before and have no interest in doing so again.

Though I find it weird, Complexity, that you criticize anthropology et al for not coming up with any laws of human behavior [though I would argue that behavioral ecology based on evolution has plenty of candidates], then turn around and criticize laws of physics for not being scientific. So are laws a hallmark of science or of non-science? Or both?


What? When did I state physics was not science? That's news to me. I've forgotten most of the physics I learned, but, I can positively state that the one position I have been consistent on for decades is that physics is definitely a science. Putting words in my mouth is not a legit tactic.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby Paralith on March 30th, 2014, 10:12 pm 

ComplexityofChaos » Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:56 pm wrote:Try falsifying the second law of thermodynamics or conservation of energy. If an experiment were done showing that energy was not conserved, people would think the experiment was done incorrectly, or that there is some energy out there we don't know about yet.


You are suggesting that once a science develops laws then suddenly they are no longer treated scientifically. I'm sure evidence suggesting the falsification of the second law of thermodynamics would be subjected to extreme scrutiny, but I think it's completely unreasonable to say that all practicing physicists would deny it if the evidence were indeed true.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby ComplexityofChaos on March 30th, 2014, 10:16 pm 

Paralith » March 30th, 2014, 9:12 pm wrote:
ComplexityofChaos » Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:56 pm wrote:Try falsifying the second law of thermodynamics or conservation of energy. If an experiment were done showing that energy was not conserved, people would think the experiment was done incorrectly, or that there is some energy out there we don't know about yet.


You are suggesting that once a science develops laws then suddenly they are no longer treated scientifically. I'm sure evidence suggesting the falsification of the second law of thermodynamics would be subjected to extreme scrutiny, but I think it's completely unreasonable to say that all practicing physicists would deny it if the evidence were indeed true.


No, my point was that one cannot simply state that the scientific method consists of falsification. I never stated anything more than that.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby owleye on March 31st, 2014, 10:58 am 

ComplexityofChaos » March 30th, 2014, 6:16 pm wrote:No, my point was that one cannot simply state that the scientific method consists of falsification. I never stated anything more than that.


Had this been the case, it would hardly be worth the mention.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby TheVat on March 31st, 2014, 12:11 pm 

You are suggesting that once a science develops laws then suddenly they are no longer treated scientifically. I'm sure evidence suggesting the falsification of the second law of thermodynamics would be subjected to extreme scrutiny, but I think it's completely unreasonable to say that all practicing physicists would deny it if the evidence were indeed true.


Indeed, the SLOT has been stretched and tugged by QM and the temporary "cheats" on SLOT by vacuum energy.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby ComplexityofChaos on March 31st, 2014, 4:42 pm 

owleye » March 31st, 2014, 9:58 am wrote:
ComplexityofChaos » March 30th, 2014, 6:16 pm wrote:No, my point was that one cannot simply state that the scientific method consists of falsification. I never stated anything more than that.


Had this been the case, it would hardly be worth the mention.


Really? The person who started this thread assumed that falsification is the scientific method. There is a huge dispute on that, and I gave one specific reason why. The fact you confused my criticism of someone's opinion on what is the scientific method, which is a philosophical issue, with the validity of physics as a science, is your mistake, not mine. My undergraduate degree was in physics. Personally, I think it is the model version of science that all other sciences try to live up to. You'll never find a statement from me knocking physics.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby owleye on March 31st, 2014, 8:18 pm 

ComplexityofChaos » March 31st, 2014, 12:42 pm wrote:
owleye » March 31st, 2014, 9:58 am wrote:
ComplexityofChaos » March 30th, 2014, 6:16 pm wrote:No, my point was that one cannot simply state that the scientific method consists of falsification. I never stated anything more than that.


Had this been the case, it would hardly be worth the mention.


Really? The person who started this thread assumed that falsification is the scientific method.

The OP says many things. I'm afraid that's not one of them, nor is it implied in anything it says. I'll quote it here:

"What do Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Karl Jung, Sigmund Freud and Kikunae Ikeda have in common? Nothing....absolutely nothing, other than they were all interested in exploring their reality, intellectually, relatively. They markedly differ in their methods, in their field of inquiry, in their conclusions, and yet, they're all scientists doing science, presumably. In theory, according to philosophers of science and pop scientists, a scientist is someone who tests their hypothesis by conducting experiments and drawing logical conclusions from them, but is that what they do? No, that's what some of them do. Not all of them are acquainted with formal logic, and few of them with metaphysics and epistemology, which I think one needs to have a grasp of, in order to know how to apply logic. Not all of them test their theories by performing experiments, some merely theorize, sometimes drawing from other peoples experiments, sometimes drawing from mathematics, and sometimes drawing from no experiments and no mathematics at all. The word science is ultra, mega ambiguous. To me, scientist means something like academic/intellectual, and nothing more."

I'm afraid I fail to see anything of his about the scientific method, much less anything about falsification. Insofar as he deals with it at all, he draws on a straw man, one that gives it no credibility worth critiquing.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby ComplexityofChaos on April 1st, 2014, 2:09 pm 

"What do Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Karl Jung, Sigmund Freud and Kikunae Ikeda have in common? Nothing....absolutely nothing, other than they were all interested in exploring their reality, intellectually, relatively. They markedly differ in their methods, in their field of inquiry, in their conclusions, and yet, they're all scientists doing science, presumably. In theory, according to philosophers of science and pop scientists, a scientist is someone who tests their hypothesis by conducting experiments and drawing logical conclusions from them, but is that what they do? No, that's what some of them do. Not all of them are acquainted with formal logic, and few of them with metaphysics and epistemology, which I think one needs to have a grasp of, in order to know how to apply logic. Not all of them test their theories by performing experiments, some merely theorize, sometimes drawing from other peoples experiments, sometimes drawing from mathematics, and sometimes drawing from no experiments and no mathematics at all. The word science is ultra, mega ambiguous. To me, scientist means something like academic/intellectual, and nothing more."

I'm afraid I fail to see anything of his about the scientific method, much less anything about falsification. Insofar as he deals with it at all, he draws on a straw man, one that gives it no credibility worth critiquing.


I'll agree with that. I was posting on more than one section, so may have got the original postings of the specific comment section confused. However, it does not change the fact I have never stated anything against physics by pointing out problems with the issue of falsification.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby owleye on April 1st, 2014, 5:46 pm 

ComplexityofChaos » April 1st, 2014, 10:09 am wrote:I'll agree with that. I was posting on more than one section, so may have got the original postings of the specific comment section confused. However, it does not change the fact I have never stated anything against physics by pointing out problems with the issue of falsification.


Fine. If there is someone that really cares what you think by now, perhaps you can present your ideas on what constitutes the scientific method. Does it or does it not include the principle of falsification within it, according to your assessment?
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby ComplexityofChaos on April 1st, 2014, 5:48 pm 

owleye » April 1st, 2014, 4:46 pm wrote:
ComplexityofChaos » April 1st, 2014, 10:09 am wrote:I'll agree with that. I was posting on more than one section, so may have got the original postings of the specific comment section confused. However, it does not change the fact I have never stated anything against physics by pointing out problems with the issue of falsification.


Fine. If there is someone that really cares what you think by now, perhaps you can present your ideas on what constitutes the scientific method. Does it or does it not include the principle of falsification within it, according to your assessment?


Yes, it includes the principle of falsification; however, it is not limited to principles of falsification.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby owleye on April 1st, 2014, 6:01 pm 

ComplexityofChaos » April 1st, 2014, 1:48 pm wrote:Yes, it includes the principle of falsification; however, it is not limited to principles of falsification.


I have to assume you are familiar with Kuhn. According to both Lomax and Allships, and I have no reason to dispute them, Popper acknowledged that Kuhn had a point, and that the principle of falsification, while having a kind of stature to it in science (in that a theory that has yet to be falsified grows stronger over the time it is tested), insufficiently depicts how science actually practices its method. And there are many examples where accepted theories aren't made false by testing them, yet are later replaced when a new theory comes along that better explains the evidence. As should be evident, science is not a stationary object. It continues because questions remain, even within the realm of accepted science. (Note that I've gone beyond the short remarks of Lomax and Allships, more or less extrapolating what they've directed our attention to.)
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby ComplexityofChaos on April 1st, 2014, 6:18 pm 

owleye » April 1st, 2014, 5:01 pm wrote:
ComplexityofChaos » April 1st, 2014, 1:48 pm wrote:Yes, it includes the principle of falsification; however, it is not limited to principles of falsification.


I have to assume you are familiar with Kuhn. According to both Lomax and Allships, and I have no reason to dispute them, Popper acknowledged that Kuhn had a point, and that the principle of falsification, while having a kind of stature to it in science (in that a theory that has yet to be falsified grows stronger over the time it is tested), insufficiently depicts how science actually practices its method. And there are many examples where accepted theories aren't made false by testing them, yet are later replaced when a new theory comes along that better explains the evidence. As should be evident, science is not a stationary object. It continues because questions remain, even within the realm of accepted science. (Note that I've gone beyond the short remarks of Lomax and Allships, more or less extrapolating what they've directed our attention to.)


You stating that Kuhn showed us that falsification has no place in science? I don't think so. Kuhn was more of an historian of science than an actual philosopher of science. He noted how science clings to bad ideas until it gets too embarrassing, or a better idea comes along. However, he did not refute the use of falsification as part of the scientific method.

Falsification is an excellent idea and we won't get far kicking it to the curb. However, in and of itself, it can't get the entire job of science done. But, if people were honest about falsification, there would no longer be any Keynesians or Marxists for us to worry about.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby AllShips on April 1st, 2014, 7:04 pm 

I would just reiterate here what I've said before in other places. Scientists often assert with some pride, perhaps justifiably, that what distinguishes science from non-science or pseudo-science is that their claims are falsifiable.

I think it's important for us to note, though, that this should not be understood to mean that a scientific claim - a theory - can receive a definitive/absolute/certain/beyond-all-doubt falsification. There is no such thing.

Falsification in science, I suggest, should be better understood as an attitude - a rejection of unshakable dogma. Unlike in religion, say, where no matter what else happens, certain doctrines are simply not negotiable (God is here to stay), the scientist is implying that he would be willing to drop ANY theory under certain circumstances.

Despite the pretty picture painted by the "naive falsificationist", a theory can ALWAYS be retained if its apologists are stubborn or determined enough, and at no point will they become inconsistent (i.e. guilty of contradiction).

When evidence is at odds with hypothesis/theory, the naive falsificationist tells us that the theory has been falsified and should be unceremoniously dumped. Well, that's one possibility. Other things can happen too, as a cursory examination of history testifies:-

1. The theory is indeed considered to be falsified and thus rejected. The less well established the hypothesis/theory is, the more likely this is to occur. It's unthinkable that a firmly entrenched major theory like Newtonian mechanics or modern evolutionary theory would be discarded just because of one itsy-bitsy teenie-weenie piece of recalcitrant data. Good theories are hard to come by, after all. We'd have no theories left!

2. The evidence is disputed or denied.

3. An ad hoc hypothesis is formulated to accommodate the intractable evidence - a common strategy. Think of Einstein adding a "cosmological constant" to his theory precisely to resist falsification.

Or consider : the Copernican model of the solar system was prima facie falsified by the absence of parallax effects in the stars. The model was not simply abandoned though. Determined proponents simply postulated - in an entirely ad hoc manner - that the fixed stars were at a distance unimaginably further than we had previously supposed. And, in this case at least, they were right, but of course it took centuries for vindication to arrive. The "stars-are-very-very-very-far-away" defense was based on nothing more than faith.

(Does this make anyone else think of dark matter and dark energy?)

4. The awkward data is simply left "on the back burner". Newtonian mechanics was prima facie falsified by the anomalous orbit of Mercury. As we all know, though, the theory did NOT thereby receive its marching orders as the naive falsificationist would have us believe.


Well, is there any way to predict what might happen in any given case? Is there any method to all this?

The most charitable answer I can suggest is - not obviously!
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby TheVat on April 1st, 2014, 7:31 pm 

Theories that have good "coverage," like classical Newtonian mechanics, don't have to be discarded because they remain applicable and "true enough" for many domains. Other theories, like the flat earth, can be pretty well falsified, because they have a small number of postulates (in this example, ONE) which can be definitively disproven. Just saying, sometimes falsification isn't naïve. Maybe it would be better to say that falsification is best understood in regard to a specific hypothesis, rather than a theory in its entirety (unless, as above, the theory happens to contain only one hypothesis). I'm guessing most scientists know not to tear down the entire temple just because a couple of bricks need regrouting. As you said, Ships, good theories are hard to come by.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby neuro on April 2nd, 2014, 12:19 pm 

Well, as usual the meaning each of us confers to words makes statements true or false.
The OP "Science doesn't exist" may be considered as true or false depending on what one means.

Does it mean that no bona-fide scientist exists?
I'd feel it is false: there are some students, in most fields, who are ready to drop any dogma, and to develop and test new hypotheses, in the face of observatioins that contradict existing theories.

Does it mean that science would exist only if all scientists were like that?
Looks like a strange idea...

Does it mean that the "corpus" of knowledge that we pass to our students as "science" is not Science?
One may well agree on that, but not many would agree to such a definition of science: science is not a series of assertions, but rather a discipline

Does it mean that - since new observations and novel cultural paradigms lead us to reconsider, reword and modify existing theories - no theory can be said scientific?
I'd believe that to be false: no theory can be claimed to be TRUE.
But any theory may be scientific, as long as it is developed to account for observed data, and can be subjected to continuous reexamination, by means of experimental falsification, re-reading it under novel perspectives, comparing it with knowledge acquired in other fields, and so on.

Does it mean that we cannot develop an Ontology of Science?
We may well agree on this, but then we are not discussing "Philosophy of Science", but something else
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby 571- on April 2nd, 2014, 5:57 pm 

There's also a difference between natural and social science for that matter.
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Re: Science doesn't exist

Postby ComplexityofChaos on April 2nd, 2014, 8:34 pm 

AllShips » April 1st, 2014, 6:04 pm wrote:I would just reiterate here what I've said before in other places. Scientists often assert with some pride, perhaps justifiably, that what distinguishes science from non-science or pseudo-science is that their claims are falsifiable.

I think it's important for us to note, though, that this should not be understood to mean that a scientific claim - a theory - can receive a definitive/absolute/certain/beyond-all-doubt falsification. There is no such thing.

Falsification in science, I suggest, should be better understood as an attitude - a rejection of unshakable dogma. Unlike in religion, say, where no matter what else happens, certain doctrines are simply not negotiable (God is here to stay), the scientist is implying that he would be willing to drop ANY theory under certain circumstances.

Despite the pretty picture painted by the "naive falsificationist", a theory can ALWAYS be retained if its apologists are stubborn or determined enough, and at no point will they become inconsistent (i.e. guilty of contradiction).

When evidence is at odds with hypothesis/theory, the naive falsificationist tells us that the theory has been falsified and should be unceremoniously dumped. Well, that's one possibility. Other things can happen too, as a cursory examination of history testifies:-

1. The theory is indeed considered to be falsified and thus rejected. The less well established the hypothesis/theory is, the more likely this is to occur. It's unthinkable that a firmly entrenched major theory like Newtonian mechanics or modern evolutionary theory would be discarded just because of one itsy-bitsy teenie-weenie piece of recalcitrant data. Good theories are hard to come by, after all. We'd have no theories left!

2. The evidence is disputed or denied.

3. An ad hoc hypothesis is formulated to accommodate the intractable evidence - a common strategy. Think of Einstein adding a "cosmological constant" to his theory precisely to resist falsification.

Or consider : the Copernican model of the solar system was prima facie falsified by the absence of parallax effects in the stars. The model was not simply abandoned though. Determined proponents simply postulated - in an entirely ad hoc manner - that the fixed stars were at a distance unimaginably further than we had previously supposed. And, in this case at least, they were right, but of course it took centuries for vindication to arrive. The "stars-are-very-very-very-far-away" defense was based on nothing more than faith.

(Does this make anyone else think of dark matter and dark energy?)

4. The awkward data is simply left "on the back burner". Newtonian mechanics was prima facie falsified by the anomalous orbit of Mercury. As we all know, though, the theory did NOT thereby receive its marching orders as the naive falsificationist would have us believe.


Well, is there any way to predict what might happen in any given case? Is there any method to all this?

The most charitable answer I can suggest is - not obviously!


The distinction between science and pseudo-science does not rest on falsification. The people who predicted the world was going to end in 2012 made a falsifiable claim, but that did not in any way make their claim scientific.
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