What distinguishes science from non-science

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

What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Phaedras on July 11th, 2015, 3:21 am 

It seems that there was a bit of an argument in another thread about this very subject -- I won't be more specific than that because it isn't necessary.

What distinguishes science from non-science is falsifiability (according to Karl Popper).

Falsifiability is the property of a statement (or set of statements) that it (or they) can be disproved by empirical testing.

This is an interesting subject.

For one, Popper doesn't say anything about proving a statement (or set of statements). He only speaks of disproving it (them).
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Phaedras on July 11th, 2015, 4:46 am 

What Popper realized (because of what Einstein's relativity theory did to Newton's "laws") was that Newtonian science had not proved to be true EVEN THOUGH it had been thought to be true for hundreds of years -- and, if that was the case, then no scientific theory would ever prove to be the truth. He realized that even scientific theories and "laws" are products of the human mind -- and that, even if they work well in practical application then that only means that they are APPROXIMATELY the truth, it's always possible, even after hundreds of years (as in the case of Einstein and Newton) that someone will come up with a theory that is even closer to whatever the truth is.

So, Popper's theory of knowledge summed up goes like this: Physical reality exists independently of the human mind, and is of a very different nature from human experience -- and for precisely that reason cannot be understood to it's fullest extent by human beings. We can come up with plausible theories, and if they are successful in practical application we can make use of them for as long as they work, but they will, at some point, fail in some way. Then we have to come up with a better theory, one that explains everything the first one could plus whatever the new problem(s) are. What this means is science is essentially a problem solving approach, and we make progress not by adding new truths to a body of existing truths but by constantly replacing existing theories with better theories. Popper was saying that truth (whatever it may be) is not available to human beings nor will it ever be.

He was saying that it's impossible to prove, finally and forever, the truth of anything, or to regard the whole of science or the whole of mathematics (or the whole of anything) as ultimately and absolutely true.

Einstein, interestingly, is quoted as having said, "The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking", and, "Only daring speculation can lead us further, and not accumulation of facts".

I added all this because I wanted to show WHY Popper didn't say anything about PROVING a statement and only spoke about DISPROVING a statement.
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby TheVat on July 11th, 2015, 9:59 am 

viewtopic.php?nomobile=1&f=10&t=28336&start=0

This discussion, led by Allships, was very useful for many of us. I think it led many away from science being reducible to a single method and towards it being a range of methods and approaches that was quite dependent on the field of study. A kind of Wittgensteinian "family resemblance" linked all these methods together. If you get the time, it may be a good thread to read...or even revive.
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Phaedras on July 11th, 2015, 2:22 pm 

I'll take a look at that, Braininvat, thank you for telling me about it.
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Sircoth on July 11th, 2015, 2:37 pm 

I find Lakatos' description more accurate, in that it is not the case that theories are simply falsified and thus rejected (Newton' mechanics were hardly thrown out because of its inability to explain Mercury's orbit, for example) but that the core of the theory is protected by auxiliary hypotheses. For example, if Uranus' orbit does not fit theory the existence of another hitherto unobserved planet is posited. Another would be the explanation that the models did not accurately take into account the heat absorption by the oceans to explain the 'hiatus' in global warming.
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Phaedras on July 11th, 2015, 3:09 pm 

I read allship's discussion -- very interesting. I would like to add something to it in this thread and then go off in a different direction. What I'd like to add also fits in with my other two posts, above.

1. Although a general theory cannot EVER be proved, it takes only one contrary instance in order to DISprove it. A statement such as "God exists" -- although it may be true -- is one that CANNOT be falsified, and therefore CANNOT be tested and regarded as a scientific statement. So, "God exists" IS NOT a scientific statement nor will it EVER be.

1a. Conversely, no number of observations of white swans, however large, will EVER prove the truth of the statement "All swans are white," a single observation of a black swan is enough to DISprove it. So we CAN test general statements by searching for contrary instances (which is exactly what is done to test general relativity, for example). This being the case, criticism has become the primary means by which we do, in fact, make progress because, as we can see from the "God exists" statement, a statement that no observation can falsify CANNOT be tested, and therefore CANNOT be considered scientific. You see, if everything that could possibly happen is compatible with a statement like that then nothing could be regarded as evidence for it.

2. On second thought, I think I'll put this in a forthcoming post.
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Phaedras on July 11th, 2015, 3:31 pm 

Here's the 2., from above. Oh, by the way, I forgot to give credit where credit is due. The swan example is a famous example of David Hume's.

2. Rational thinkers (this role, in today's society, being played by philosophers) are like spiders who spin their webs out of matter hidden inside their own bodies: their structures are impressive but everything comes from within, AND lacks sufficient contact with external reality. Empirical thinkers (this role, in today's society, being played by scientists) are like ants, who mindlessly collect data but have only limited ideas about what to do with it. Logic by itself is useless as a tool of discovery: It's brilliant AFTER an event occurs, but shows us nothing new about it and has ZERO predictive power. Finally, there are always those who become hung up on definitions and believe them to be reality (as opposed to only one way or REPRESENTING reality) -- to them I say -- to fall in love with words is to fall in love with a picture. Credit for the content of this post goes to Francis Bacon (yes, I typed it, but he said it).
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Phaedras on July 12th, 2015, 2:53 am 

More from Francis Bacon (this time on the scientific method):

First, we must observe the facts, record our observations, and amass a body of reliable data, the more the better. This is more effectively done by many people working in communication with one another than by individuals working alone -- hence the need for scientific societies and colleges. At this stage we must be careful not to impose our ideas on the facts, but to let them speak for themselves. When we have amassed enough of them they will begin to do so: regularities and patterns will begin to emerge, causal connections will reveal themselves, and we shall start to perceive the laws of nature at work in the particular instances. At this stage, however, it is important for us to keep our eyes open for contrary instances. We are all inclined to leap to conclusions based only on the evidence that fits them: for example, if a man has a dream that then comes true he will often announce that this proves dreams to be prophetic, thereby simply ignoring the countless number of his dreams that have not come true. Negative instances are as important as positive ones in guiding us to the right conclusions. However, if we are self-disciplined in this respect we shall begin to perceive the general laws exemplified in the individual instances. When we have formed a well-based hypothesis of this kind our next task is to test it by crucial experiment. If experiment confirms the hypothesis we shall indeed have discovered a law of nature; and once we have done that we can confidently deduce individual instances from it, in other words make accurate predictions. So in the process of discovering a scientific law we are moving from the particular to the general, a process known as induction; whereas in applying the law once we have got it we move from the general to the particular, a process known as deduction.

Incidentally, Sherlock Holmes (of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fame) had a standard method that he always referred to as deduction, in fact, though, it was induction (and usually of the unreliable kind against which Bacon warned us).

Anyway, from the time that Bacon formulated his scientific method to the twentieth century, most scientists and scholars agreed that he had set humanity on the right path for distinguishing scientific knowledge from all other sorts of knowledge -- Kant even quoted him and so did Voltaire. It wasn't until Einstein and Popper that this changed to a degree.
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Phaedras on July 12th, 2015, 4:05 am 

Here are four influences on our thinking that seduce us away from the scientific method.

1. This one is common to all mankind. These are the distorting factors inherent in our nature as human beings: our tendency to believe the evidence of our senses when in fact it often deceives us, and to allow judgements to be colored by our feelings, and to impose interpretations based on our own ideas and expectations on what we perceive.

2. This one is a reference to Plato's "Myth of the Cave": Each separate individual has his own private cave, which intercepts and colors the light of nature according to his own peculiar and singular disposition.

3. This one comes from interactions between human beings, and are therefore mediated chiefly by language. There are two ways in which words deceive. First, the same word means different things to different people. Second, human beings have a strong tendency to confuse language with reality.

4. This one involves systematic representations of reality which are, in fact, not reality at all. This would be all the various systems of philosophy in terms of which people mistakenly look at reality, perhaps especially the sort that we nowadays term ideologies, the creators of false consciousness.

These were the four things Bacon said we should all guard against.
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby BadgerJelly on July 12th, 2015, 12:02 pm 

"seduce us away" ? Irony ?
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Re: What distinguishes model from reality?

Postby Faradave on July 12th, 2015, 12:54 pm 

Thanks for the important reminders. I'm sure I violate all of these on occasion but I value simplicity over whatever reality happens to be. It's a natural consequence of having a limited mind. I'm greedy and I can fit more concepts in, if they're in simplest form.

I might even be willing to tolerate "a little" error in return for compactness. For example, I can easily dispose of the unexpected, and distasteful maximal violation of charge (C) and parity (P) symmetries by the weak force (for which Yang & Lee won the 1957 Nobel prize in physics), if I'm willing to temporarily ignore the very rare, combined CP violation (observed by Kronin & Fitch 1980 Nobel prize).

One has to wonder how Francis Bacon would classify theoretical physics. If not as science, perhaps a fertile ground from which "science" often arises. Regardless of any signs which may be posted, I wander freely between theoretical and applied physics, classical and modern, relativity and quantum theories. In my cognitive journeys, I encounter none of the purported incompatibilities. I expect the same is true for real particles on actual journeys.
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby vivian maxine on July 12th, 2015, 2:12 pm 

Phaedras » July 12th, 2015, 1:53 am wrote:More from Francis Bacon (this time on the scientific method):



Incidentally, Sherlock Holmes (of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fame) had a standard method that he always referred to as deduction, in fact, though, it was induction (and usually of the unreliable kind against which Bacon warned us).

.



But he always got his man regardless of Bacon. :-) Meanwhile, according to Who's Who in British History (Juliet Gardiner), "Bacon's own experimental research resulted in few scientific discoveries, but it led to his death from a chill caught while exploring how to refrigerate a chicken."
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby TheVat on July 12th, 2015, 2:20 pm 

Well something was learned about chilling Bacon, anyway.

Induction seems to rise above its inherent weakness when the repetitions are quite numerous and also grounded in collateral observations. We don't just observe the sun rising in the east each morning, we also observe other natural celestial objects doing the same.
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Phaedras on July 12th, 2015, 3:50 pm 

Braininvat, that's a perfect example of an artifact of language representing reality in a way that is, in fact, not true. The sun, in all actuality, NEVER "comes up". It only APPEARS to us as if it does -- yet, we still refer to it as "coming up" and "going down".

This is actually an artifact of our language that hasn't yet caught up, if you will, with our current knowledge. It's left over from a time when we did, indeed, believe that the sun actually "came up" and "went down".
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby TheVat on July 12th, 2015, 5:36 pm 

All true enough, but not my point. Which was just the way, with induction, that related observations can bolster each other in the direction of greater probability. I meant objects "rising" with the modern subtext of "planet spinning eastward." So my example was semantically flawed, but I hope still got the point across.
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Watson on July 12th, 2015, 5:48 pm 

This is actually an artifact of our language that hasn't yet caught up, if you will, with our current knowledge. It's left over from a time when we did, indeed, believe that the sun actually "came up" and "went down".


I can't think of any better way of describing sun raise, or sun sets even though it is technically wrong. Trying to be technically right, just sounds awkward. But I think from now on I'll only be thinking of dusk and dawn as Pluto time
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Phaedras on July 12th, 2015, 7:14 pm 

Braininvat, I knew what you meant -- I was just pointing that out about language. Didn't mean it in a critical way, I just saw the opportunity to point that out and took it. Don't worry, we all do the same -- it just shows the limits of the language -- not necessarily our minds. I can tell from many of your other posts your a pretty intelligent guy.

Watson is right, we don't have a way to easily describe "sunrises" and "sunsets" accurately in modern languages. Again, thought, it shows the limits of language -- that's all I was trying to point out.
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Don Juan on July 12th, 2015, 8:34 pm 

Phaedras » July 12th, 2015, 9:50 pm wrote:Braininvat, that's a perfect example of an artifact of language representing reality in a way that is, in fact, not true. The sun, in all actuality, NEVER "comes up". It only APPEARS to us as if it does -- yet, we still refer to it as "coming up" and "going down".

This is actually an artifact of our language that hasn't yet caught up, if you will, with our current knowledge. It's left over from a time when we did, indeed, believe that the sun actually "came up" and "went down".


What do you mean by "an artifact of language?"
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Phaedras on July 12th, 2015, 10:20 pm 

Don Juan, the word artifact in this case means: an inaccurate description that is produced unintentionally.

I hope that makes more sense now.
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Don Juan on July 12th, 2015, 10:37 pm 

Phaedras wrote:Don Juan, the word artifact in this case means: an inaccurate description that is produced unintentionally.

I hope that makes more sense now.


It does make more sense because I tend to have this notion of artifact as error in representation introduced by instrument or method. I still have questions though, they will emerge I hope as I explore.

First, with your meaning then, if it is intentional, it is not an artifact? Unintentional in what respect?

Second, if it is inaccurate, then it is not true? In what context it is not true?

I am reflecting upon your statement:

Braininvat, that's a perfect example of an artifact of language representing reality in a way that is, in fact, not true.


What is truth with respect to immediately accessible data and to those which need deeper reflection or observation? What is truth with respect to "empirical testing" and its context?

Is the observation falsified or qualified by the relevant new facts?
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Phaedras on July 13th, 2015, 12:58 am 

You're missing the point Don Juan.

But, yes, it is true that if it is intentional then it is not an artifact.
And, unintentional in that what the speaker is attempting to communicate is not represented by what use of the language represents. Another way of saying it is -- it "gets lost in translation" the mind to the tongue.

Let me make this clear, too. This was in no way meant to be insulting to anyone. We all unwittingly fall into this category (including myself) -- I just think it's important to be aware of it.

Also, language is NOT reality. Language merely REPRESENTS reality. Language can misrepresent reality because of its limitations.

Second, I'm not sure I can help you with context. You see, context is already present in the previous posts themselves. Would you have me retype them all in here? Also, I wasn't questioning the accuracy of the statement, merely pointing out the limitations of language.

From a technical point of view, that particular observation would be falsified by the "relevant new facts", as you put it. But, again, you're missing the point.

As for "immediately accessible data" -- well, that entire subject is actually irrelevant within the context of that particular post and so, for that matter, is "truth with respect to 'empirical testing'".
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Phaedras on July 13th, 2015, 1:12 am 

In fact, Don Juan, your misunderstanding of the word "artifact" as I meant is yet another example of the limits of language (and listed as one of the two ways in which language can deceive by Bacon).

I would like to know why you bring up "truth"? If you read these earlier posts you would clearly see that the whole point is that human beings are not capable of attaining any absolute truth, merely an approximation.

It almost sounds like you're using dialectic in an aggressive manner. Is that the case?
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Phaedras on July 13th, 2015, 1:13 am 

If so, then Socrates would roll over in his grave.
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Don Juan on July 13th, 2015, 1:33 am 

Phaedras wrote:You're missing the point Don Juan.


Ok, most possibly I am. What point I am missing?

But, yes, it is true that if it is intentional then it is not an artifact.
And, unintentional in that what the speaker is attempting to communicate is not represented by what use of the language represents. Another way of saying it is -- it "gets lost in translation" the mind to the tongue.


Ok. Possibly we can say that 'unintentional' has something to do with our intuitive and automatic focus and implications upon immediate data so that the bounds of our considerations and expressions remain at that level for a while at least, we can expand them though upon further considerations or if these are called to our attention or awareness.

Let me make this clear, too. This was in no way meant to be insulting to anyone. We all unwittingly fall into this category (including myself) -- I just think it's important to be aware of it.


Yes, yes. The inquiry I put forward is far from implicating that direction.

Also, language is NOT reality. Language merely REPRESENTS reality. Language can misrepresent reality because of its limitations.


Correct.

Second, I'm not sure I can help you with context. You see, context is already present in the previous posts themselves. Would you have me retype them all in here? Also, I wasn't questioning the accuracy of the statement, merely pointing out the limitations of language.


Definitely you are not questioning the accuracy of the statement. "Accuracy" arose by your meaning of 'artifact' which referred to that Braininvat's statement.

From a technical point of view, that particular observation would be falsified by the "relevant new facts", as you put it. But, again, you're missing the point.


What point I am missing?

Can we not state that because of these configurations say Earth's spin, etc etc, and your position as a lay observer on earth, and your very nature as observer within earth with your intuitive, fast, automatic mode of thinking, the sun will APPEAR to you as such and such? Can we not verify this if we test it from the point of view of the lay observer?

As for "immediately accessible data" -- well, that entire subject is actually irrelevant within the context of that particular post and so, for that matter, is "truth with respect to 'empirical testing'".


Are these things not relevant to the subjects of 'falsification' and truth relevant to "artifacts of language"?
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Don Juan on July 13th, 2015, 1:45 am 

Phaedras » July 13th, 2015, 7:12 am wrote:In fact, Don Juan, your misunderstanding of the word "artifact" as I meant is yet another example of the limits of language (and listed as one of the two ways in which language can deceive by Bacon).

I would like to know why you bring up "truth"? If you read these earlier posts you would clearly see that the whole point is that human beings are not capable of attaining any absolute truth, merely an approximation.

It almost sounds like you're using dialectic in an aggressive manner. Is that the case?


What did I misunderstand with your meaning of the word "artifact?"

Is the cause of the impression of aggressiveness coming from me alone or is this a part of the way you can interpret my questions?

My apologies for that, if so, it is not yet clear to me back then that you are referring to approximations in your statement:

Braininvat, that's a perfect example of an artifact of language representing reality in a way that is, in fact, not true.
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Phaedras on July 13th, 2015, 2:17 am 

Don Juan, if your weren't being aggressive then I apologize to you. Believe it or not, I have seen that tactic many times before (not online, but in many facets of life) and I find that only scumbags and criminals (attorneys come to mind) lower themselves to that degree. Again, if that's not how you meant it then I apologize, sir.

The point that it seems like you are missing is simply that language is a limiting factor? And, again, to that end, I'd like to point out that the fact that you had to ask what I meant by "artifact" -- that's one of Bacon's assertions about language, namely, that the same word can mean different things to different people.

Human beings have a strong tendency to confuse language with reality. The statement, "The sun come up", is an example of how our modern language still represents what our civilization once believed to be true -- even though it no longer is considered to be true. So, when I said it was an artifact of language I meant that it's is still expressed that way in modern times even though we no longer consider that, as a civilization, to representative of reality.

Falsification is a better avenue to pursue than "truth", in my opinion simply because "truth" is nearly impossible to nail down. In fact, it's my opinion that "truth" cannot be achieved. But, yes, "the sun comes up" has been falsified to my satisfaction even though we, as a modern society who no longer believes that to be the case, still use that phrase to describe it.

In fact, I'd like to point out that this whole conversation is further example of Bacon's two points about language and its limitations.

I hope that answers your questions. You are more than welcome comment further, ask more questions, etc...

It may be me who has misunderstood some of what you were asking -- even more example of how Bacon's two points about the limitations of language come into play!!! lol
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Don Juan on July 13th, 2015, 8:04 am 

Phaedras wrote:Don Juan, if your weren't being aggressive then I apologize to you. Believe it or not, I have seen that tactic many times before (not online, but in many facets of life) and I find that only scumbags and criminals (attorneys come to mind) lower themselves to that degree. Again, if that's not how you meant it then I apologize, sir.


My habit tends to focus on the arguments, their contents, assumptions and implications, hopefully to check for logical validity and soundness. So I tend to ignore if whether one is aggressive or not. My approach will be likely similar to being aggressive, because I am not satisfied with the skin, I wanted to open it to see the muscles, and further to see the bones of the arguments, and then zoom out to see it whole again - a difficult task within my time budget, of course I often fail - but this is my ideal. There is a sense that I can be seen as brutal in terms of probing down to assumptions and implications. That perspective then makes your approach seem to be different from mine. How does being aggressive lower the position of these people in terms of logical validity and soundness?

The point that it seems like you are missing is simply that language is a limiting factor? And, again, to that end, I'd like to point out that the fact that you had to ask what I meant by "artifact" -- that's one of Bacon's assertions about language, namely, that the same word can mean different things to different people.


Should we say that outdated map is not true because it is inaccurate in terms of the updated map? The old map still works within the context it originally emerged, faithfully representing the structure of the territory it tries to represent to the best of its knowledge at least at the time it was conceived.

Human beings have a strong tendency to confuse language with reality. The statement, "The sun come up", is an example of how our modern language still represents what our civilization once believed to be true -- even though it no longer is considered to be true. So, when I said it was an artifact of language I meant that it's is still expressed that way in modern times even though we no longer consider that, as a civilization, to representative of reality.


Do we really consider an inaccurate map not representative of reality anymore?

Falsification is a better avenue to pursue than "truth", in my opinion simply because "truth" is nearly impossible to nail down. In fact, it's my opinion that "truth" cannot be achieved. But, yes, "the sun comes up" has been falsified to my satisfaction even though we, as a modern society who no longer believes that to be the case, still use that phrase to describe it.


We can consider the map with two ideas (or processes) in mind at least: Falsification and Bounded Rationality.
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Phaedras on July 13th, 2015, 3:31 pm 

How does being aggressive lower the position of these people in terms of logical validity and soundness?

1. It's my belief that dialectic should be used for teaching purposes only -- as opposed to a tool used for nefarious ends. I'll just leave it at that. You're smart enough to figure out the rest, I think.

2. Your map analogy is good -- it fits nicely with what I'm saying. Though, I have to add here that I could be completely wrong -- I mean, what do I know? A hundred years ago most people thought there would be no way we'd ever go to the moon!!

3. Yes, an inaccurate map (i.e. language) cannot be used to represent reality as it is currently understood. It's the same thing I've said in a number of posts above. How many more ways can you think of to say it?

4. I have a question for you -- do you bring up bounded rationality as a competitor against falsification or as an additional method to be compatible with falsification?
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby Don Juan on July 13th, 2015, 10:14 pm 

Phaedras » July 13th, 2015, 9:31 pm wrote:How does being aggressive lower the position of these people in terms of logical validity and soundness?

1. It's my belief that dialectic should be used for teaching purposes only -- as opposed to a tool used for nefarious ends. I'll just leave it at that. You're smart enough to figure out the rest, I think.


One of the principles I am happy to take is that of Cybernetic's Requisite Variety. See http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/reqvar.html

"The larger the variety of actions available to a control system, the larger the variety of perturbations it is able to compensate."

Of course there are lots of constraints to variety of actions, there are ethical and moral considerations for example, but it is possible we can generate or keep repertoire that is within the acceptable constraints. Sometimes too we need to question the constraints to reveal our deep assumptions and increase further our repertoire.

So I would say that I am not that smart enough to understand. My repertoire is open to old and new strategies, even behaving in a way that can be interpreted by others as aggression. I hope to find validity and soundness, so there are some things I may sacrifice to discover them in arguments.

2. Your map analogy is good -- it fits nicely with what I'm saying. Though, I have to add here that I could be completely wrong -- I mean, what do I know? A hundred years ago most people thought there would be no way we'd ever go to the moon!!


The revised map that include going to the moon however did not render the old map they hold totally useless, it seems to me.

3. Yes, an inaccurate map (i.e. language) cannot be used to represent reality as it is currently understood. It's the same thing I've said in a number of posts above. How many more ways can you think of to say it?


How can we say that it cannot be used to represent reality if the less accurate map was successfully used before to problems it was intended to? An inaccurate map maybe limited, but not all of it will be wrong. To the level of accuracy attainable at the time it emerged, it still faithfully maps a certain structure of the territory it tries to represent.

4. I have a question for you -- do you bring up bounded rationality as a competitor against falsification or as an additional method to be compatible with falsification?


Actually there is a third element I believe important - systems thinking. Falsification and Bounded Rationality is like a Yin and Yang joined together by Systems Thinking. Falsification tends to focus on the observed, while bounded rationality on the observer. Systems Thinking joins them into a whole relationships of observed-observer-in-an-environment.
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Re: What distinguishes science from non-science

Postby NetiNeti on July 13th, 2015, 10:47 pm 

Phaedras » July 12th, 2015, 6:09 am wrote:A statement such as "God exists" -- although it may be true -- is one that CANNOT be falsified, and therefore CANNOT be tested and regarded as a scientific statement. So, "God exists" IS NOT a scientific statement nor will it EVER be.


An often used example but I think a wrong one.
All statements of the form "X exists" cannot be falsified, which according to this logic would render all such statements unscientific. That is demonstrably not true.
The statement "Planets exist" is obviously a scientific statement.
In fact, for all statements of the form "X exists" you only need to demonstrate that one single X exists to make it a valid scientific statement.

This is not to diminish the importance of falsifiability when considering a hypothesis. I believe this was Karl Popper's most important contribution to the philosophy of science.
However, he went overboard by proclaiming that ONLY falsifiable hypotheses should be considered.

God - if she existed - could choose to show herself to all inhabitants of earth at the same time. If she did, we'd know (as far as we "know" anything) that god exists and it would therefor and thereby become a scientific statement.
NetiNeti
 


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