For the purpose of the forum, I think of science as being involved in a process of formulating testable hypotheses (I hear echo’s of Karl Popper) about the natural world. Data are directly observable characters and measurements. For the discussion of human origins the data set would include observations and measurements of skeletal remains, descriptions of sedimentary context, etc etc.
Actually systems science especially of our complex biosphere and Earth with its many interactions aren’t amenable to such a simplistic Popperian approach.
Poppers notion may conform to chemistry and physics “table-top” experiments, but not for our living Earth.
Falsification: Was Karl Popper Wrong About Science?
Popper’s views are highly influential. Indeed, few scientists would dispute the importance of falsifiability. But just how realistic is Popper’s spin on the scientific method? Does science actually advance in this way? In a paper nearly a decade old in the journal Foundations of Science, philosophy professor Sven Ove Hansson argues that Popper is wrong.
To make his case, Dr. Hansson selected 70 papers* from the journal Nature published in the year 2000. He asked a series of questions and classified the papers accordingly. His schema is shown below. (My explanations, which are additions to the original figure, are shown in red text.)
One of the answers to Edge.org’s question
“What scientific idea is ready for retirement”? is by physicist Sean Carroll.
Carroll takes on an idea from the philosophy of science that’s usually considered a given: falsification.
By Ashutosh Jogalekar on January 24, 2014