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Science as religion (Merged)
Posted: 20 February 2011 09:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 181 ]
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GdB - 19 February 2011 09:11 AM

kkwan:
In some sense of the word ‘the scientific method’ really does not exist. There is no method to find (empirical) truth, not even in mathematics. But there are methods to check if truth holds. These are consistency, repeatability, experiments, and explanatory power (the more phenomena it encompasses and relates to each other, the better a theory is). But there is really no certain way to find potential truths. There is always an element of creativity in science. Shortly said: in science there are hypothesis and there are tests of them.

On the contrary, a theory should be rationally criticized and it’s truth determined by it’s falsifiability. From the wiki on critical rationalism

Critical rationalists hold that scientific theories, and any other claims to knowledge, can and should be rationally criticized, and (if they have empirical content) can and should be subjected to tests which may falsify them.

Preference for the least probable theory:

That it is the least probable theory that is to be preferred is one of the contrasting differences between critical rationalism and classical views on science, such as positivism, who hold that one should instead accept the most probable theory.

Positive evidence does not support a theory:

Supposed positive evidence (such as the provision of “good reasons” for a claim, or its making of successful predictions) actually does nothing to bolster, support, or prove a claim, belief, or theory.

Paradoxically, a theory is better if it is less likely to be true:

In this sense, critical rationalism turns the normal understanding of a traditional rationalist, and a realist, on its head. Especially the view that a theory is better if it is less likely to be true is in direct opposition to the traditional positivistic view that holds that one should seek for theories that have a high probability. Popper notes that this “may illustrate Schopenhauer’s remark that the solution of a problem often first looks like a paradox and later like a truism”.

Knowledge is unjustified untrue unbelief:

Critical rationalism rejects the classical position that knowledge is justified true belief; it instead holds the exact opposite: That, in general, knowledge is unjustified untrue unbelief. It is unjustified because of the non-existence of good reasons. It is untrue, because it usually contains errors that sometimes remain unnoticed for hundreds of years. And it is not belief either, because scientific knowledge, or the knowledge needed to build a plane, is contained in no single person’s mind. It is only available as the content of books.

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Posted: 20 February 2011 10:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 182 ]
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Congratulations, kkwan. Of all your posts on these forums this one makes the least sense.

Have you been practicing Newspeak?

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Posted: 20 February 2011 10:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 183 ]
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“Positive evidence does not support a theory”
“Knowledge is unjustified untrue unbelief”

Have you been talking to some of my AGWHoaxer crowd?
Thanks for the tip though, I think it might explain how their heads work.
I might even have to steal that quote from you sometime.

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Posted: 20 February 2011 11:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 184 ]
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DarronS - 20 February 2011 10:03 PM

Congratulations, kkwan. Of all your posts on these forums this one makes the least sense.

Have you been practicing Newspeak?

No, I have not gone bonkers, DarronS.  smile

From this article in the IEP on Karl Popper and Critical Rationalism

Popper argued that comprehensive rationalism cannot explain how proof is possible and that it leads to inconsistencies. Critical rationalism today is the project of extending Popper’s approach to all areas of thought and action. In each field the central task of critical rationalism is to replace allegedly justificatory methods with critical ones.

Something could be true even if it is not provable:

The conflict between Popper’s new theory of science and his older theory that only proven or refuted sentences can take truth values was removed by Tarski. Tarski’s definition of truth, as Tarski explained to Popper, allows for non-proven but still true sentences. Tarski thereby did away with the theory of truth that had given Popper so much trouble. Tarski did not necessarily offer Popper an adequate theory of truth for his philosophy of science. But Tarski did free him from a false theory which was a great impediment to the construction of a truly fallibilist, realist theory of science.

Metaphysics as a guide to science:

Metaphysics can be useful in advancing science by giving guidelines for the search for empirical explanations and by deepening the understanding of the world offered by science. But, he also said, it can help achieve these aims only when used critically. A critical stance toward metaphysics is possible when two or more metaphysical research programs compete with each other to construct empirically refutable theories. This, he argued, is just what happened when Faraday used his metaphysical field theory as the framework within which he constructed physical (field) theories. His competitors tried to explain the same phenomena under the Newtonian assumption that all forces act at a distance. Faraday’s theory of electro-magnetic events eventually had an enormous impact, because his metaphysics enabled him to construct better physical theories than his competitors.

Please read the whole article with an open mind.

In the late 19th Century, classical physics could not explain the Ultraviolet Catastrophe

The ultraviolet catastrophe, also called the Rayleigh-Jeans catastrophe, was a prediction of late 19th century/early 20th century classical physics that an ideal black body at thermal equilibrium will emit radiation with infinite power.

Max Planck’s solution:

Max Planck solved the problem. Planck postulated that electromagnetic energy did not follow the classical description, but could only oscillate or be emitted in discrete packets of energy proportional to the frequency, as given by Planck’s law.

His motivation:

In fact Planck never concerned himself with this aspect of the problem, because he did not believe that the equipartition theorem was fundamental – his motivation for introducing “quanta” was entirely different. That Planck’s proposal happened to provide a solution for it was realized much later, as stated above.

In 1905, Einstein solved the paradox of the photoelectric effect

In 1905, Albert Einstein solved this apparent paradox by describing light as composed of discrete quanta, now called photons, rather than continuous waves. Based upon Max Planck’s theory of black-body radiation,

The metaphysical quantum concept subsequently led to the development of QM.

Now, the metaphysical concept of EM energy as discrete quanta instead of waves was alien to classical physics. In other words, the concept contradicted the paradigm of classical physics, was considered highly improbable and made no sense.

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Posted: 20 February 2011 11:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 185 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 20 February 2011 10:55 PM

“Positive evidence does not support a theory”
“Knowledge is unjustified untrue unbelief”

Have you been talking to some of my AGWHoaxer crowd?
Thanks for the tip though, I think it might explain how their heads work.
I might even have to steal that quote from you sometime.

A theory is demolished by an instance of falsehood which refutes ten thousand instances of positive evidence.

How do you justify knowledge, it’s truth and why you believe it?

The power of negative thinking.  LOL

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Posted: 21 February 2011 12:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 186 ]
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kkwan - 20 February 2011 09:58 PM

On the contrary, a theory should be rationally criticized and it’s truth determined by it’s falsifiability. From the wiki on critical rationalism

Critical rationalists hold that scientific theories, and any other claims to knowledge, can and should be rationally criticized, and (if they have empirical content) can and should be subjected to tests which may falsify them.


Didn’t I write that theories should be tested? I did not want to give a full expose of a theory of science or epistemology. 2 Remarks:
- good scientific theories are not theories that can easily be falsified, but theories that give a lot of possibilities to do that because they predict new facts that can be tested. So as you correctly cited
- when a new prediction is not falsified, but confirmed, it is support for the theory: it is positive evidence. Important is that they are new facts, not something we already know for ages. I would not call that a ‘least probable theory’.

kkwan - 20 February 2011 09:58 PM

Paradoxically, a theory is better if it is less likely to be true:

In this sense, critical rationalism turns the normal understanding of a traditional rationalist, and a realist, on its head. Especially the view that a theory is better if it is less likely to be true is in direct opposition to the traditional positivistic view that holds that one should seek for theories that have a high probability. Popper notes that this “may illustrate Schopenhauer’s remark that the solution of a problem often first looks like a paradox and later like a truism”.

This is rubbish of course. A good theory might feel ‘less likely to be true’ (like QM and RT in the times of their arising), because it goes against some intuitions we have build up. But what if I design a theory from which follows that stones fall upwards? It is not very likely to be true, and our experience says that it is not true immediately. A good new theory is a theory that
- explains everything I already know with the same accuracy as existing theories
- predicts new facts that do not follow from the existing theories (these can be tested, i.e. falsified or confirmed)
- explains why the existing theories we held true so long, i.e. show the existing theories as correct in a limited area

kkwan - 20 February 2011 09:58 PM

Knowledge is unjustified untrue unbelief

That fits fine on a banner or a poster.

PS CC’s reaction shows that we can be too stubborn in practice: shall we put AGW to the test, by blowing more CO2 in the atmosphere, before we act?

[ Edited: 21 February 2011 01:03 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 21 February 2011 12:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 187 ]
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kkwan - 20 February 2011 11:44 PM

A theory is demolished by an instance of falsehood which refutes ten thousand instances of positive evidence.

Please read Lakatos.

Ups, forgot to add: read it with an open mind.

[ Edited: 21 February 2011 05:30 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 21 February 2011 01:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 188 ]
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kkwan - 20 February 2011 11:33 PM

The metaphysical quantum concept subsequently led to the development of QM.

Now, the metaphysical concept of EM energy as discrete quanta instead of waves was alien to classical physics. In other words, the concept contradicted the paradigm of classical physics, was considered highly improbable and made no sense.

Please explain why this is metaphysical. It seems only hypothetical to me, against our intuitions, as I wrote before.

But can you relate this all to the topic ‘Science as religion’? We are discussing science theory here.

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Posted: 21 February 2011 04:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 189 ]
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kkwan - 20 February 2011 09:58 PM

Popper notes that this “may illustrate Schopenhauer’s remark that the solution of a problem often first looks like a paradox and later like a truism”.

This fits with my comment to GdB that a contradiction is a pointer to a “trail” potentially leading to new truth and understanding—the contradiction itself doesn’t solve the problem, or tell us how to solve it,  but it is like some trace evidence telling us there is some gold to be mined here.

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Posted: 21 February 2011 05:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 190 ]
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GdB - 21 February 2011 12:55 AM

Didn’t I write that theories should be tested? I did not want to give a full expose of a theory of science or epistemology. 2 Remarks:
- good scientific theories are not theories that can easily be falsified, but theories that give a lot of possibilities to do that because they predict new facts that can be tested. So as you correctly cited
- when a new prediction is not falsified, but confirmed, it is support for the theory: it is positive evidence. Important is that they are new facts, not something we already know for ages. I would not call that a ‘least probable theory’.

The crucial point is “not falsified”. If it is, the theory is problematic. In other words, falsification determines the viability of a theory.

GdB - 21 February 2011 12:55 AM

This is rubbish of course. A good theory might feel ‘less likely to be true’ (like QM and RT in the times of their arising), because it goes against some intuitions we have build up. But what if I design a theory from which follows that stones fall upwards? It is not very likely to be true, and our experience says that it is not true immediately. A good new theory is a theory that
- explains everything I already know with the same accuracy as existing theories
- predicts new facts that do not follow from the existing theories (these can be tested, i.e. falsified or confirmed)
- explains why the existing theories we held true so long, i.e. show the existing theories as correct in a limited area

Schopenhauer’s remark that “the solution of a problem often first looks like a paradox and later like a truism”.

GdB - 21 February 2011 12:55 AM

PS CC’s reaction shows that we can be too stubborn in practice: shall we put AGW to the test, by blowing more CO2 in the atmosphere, before we act?

If AGW is falsified, it is false. Of course, it does not mean emitting more CO2 to test AGW, though as it is, there is no decline in sight. Just look at Venus.

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Posted: 21 February 2011 07:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 191 ]
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kkwan - 21 February 2011 05:54 AM

The crucial point is “not falsified”. If it is, the theory is problematic. In other words, falsification determines the viability of a theory.

New facts that can in principle be falsified, i.e. that can be tested. Take the test of GR by Eddington:

Eddington’s observations published the next year confirmed Einstein’s theory, and were hailed at the time as a conclusive proof of general relativity over the Newtonian model.

Don’t you agree, that predicting something unlikely like the bending of light beams, is experimentally confirmed here?

kkwan - 21 February 2011 05:54 AM

Schopenhauer’s remark that “the solution of a problem often first looks like a paradox and later like a truism”.

No idea why you repeat this here.

kkwan - 21 February 2011 05:54 AM

If AGW is falsified, it is false. Of course, it does not mean emitting more CO2 to test AGW, though as it is, there is no decline in sight. Just look at Venus.

Seems you do not get my point here. What should we do if we try to falsify it? We should blow so much CO2 in the air as possible, and if the earth does not heat up, then the AGW-theory is falsified. I just want to show that when we must act, we cannot allow us 100% methodological purity. At least I would not like to put the only earth we have it risk…

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Posted: 21 February 2011 08:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 192 ]
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Eddington’s observations published the next year confirmed Einstein’s theory, and were hailed at the time as a conclusive proof of general relativity over the Newtonian model.

Eddington’s observations are controversial. From this article on Eclipse May 29, 1919

Some astronomers deny that the photographs of the eclipse observations, when compared with those taken of the same stars in the absence of the Sun, show deflections approximating the amount or the direction predicted by Professor Einstein. The quantity approximating the predicted one is obtained by averaging a selected few of the observations.

Because of the euphoric veneration of Einstein and relativity in November 1919, the objectivity with which science is supposed to act has been compromised, and the search for better theories has been inhibited. Canonization, deification, and claims of personal communication from Nature, should have no place in science. If the findings of the eclipse expeditions had been announced as being inconclusive instead of decisive in 1919, general relativity would have had to compete with other possible theories, such as Gerber’s, to explain certain astronomical observations, and a better theory might eventually have been found. In the author’s opinion, the confident announcement of the decisive confirmation of Einstein’s general theory in November 1919 was not a triumph of science, as it is often portrayed, but one of the most unfortunate events in the history of 20th-century science.

Do read the whole article to get the whole picture. 

GdB - 21 February 2011 07:07 AM

Seems you do not get my point here. What should we do if we try to falsify it? We should blow so much CO2 in the air as possible, and if the earth does not heat up, then the AGW-theory is falsified. I just want to show that when we must act, we cannot allow us 100% methodological purity. At least I would not like to put the only earth we have it risk…

Supercomputers could simulate the effects of CO2 to show that AGW is false.

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Posted: 21 February 2011 08:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 193 ]
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kkwan - 21 February 2011 08:23 AM

Eddington’s observations are controversial. From this article on Eclipse May 29, 1919

Are controversial or WERE controversial?

How much experimental evidence has confirmed Einstein since then?

Supercomputers could simulate the effects of CO2 to show that AGW is false.

Computers can be programmed to do anything.  But would it be a simulation?

You know that old cyber-saying:  Garbage In, Garbage Out.

The computers are too dumb to know what is garbage.

psik

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Posted: 21 February 2011 08:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 194 ]
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GdB - 21 February 2011 12:59 AM
kkwan - 20 February 2011 11:44 PM

A theory is demolished by an instance of falsehood which refutes ten thousand instances of positive evidence.

Please read Lakatos.

Ups, forgot to add: read it with an open mind.

From the same wiki you mentioned:

However, he also conceived of the mathematical community as carrying on a kind of dialectic to decide which mathematical proofs are valid and which are not. Therefore he fundamentally disagreed with the ‘formalist’ conception of proof which prevailed in Frege’s and Russell’s logicism, which defines proof simply in terms of formal validity.

However, whereas Kuhn implied that good scientists ignored or discounted evidence against their theories Popper regarded counter evidence as something to be dealt with, either by explaining it, or eventually modifying the theory. Popper was not describing actual behaviour of scientists, but what a scientist should do. Kuhn was mostly describing actual behaviour.

Lakatos claimed that he was extending Popper’s ideas, which had themselves developed over time. He contrasted Popper, the crude falsificationist, who existed only in the minds of critics and followers who had not understood Popper’s writings, Popper1, the author of what Popper actually wrote, and Popper2, who was supposed to be Popper as reinterpreted by his pupil Lakatos, though many commentators believe that Popper2 just is Lakatos. The idea that it is often not possible to show decisively which of two theories or research programmes is better at a particular point in time whereas subsequent developments may show that one is ‘progressive’ while the other is ‘degenerating’, and therefore less acceptable, was a major contribution both to philosophy of science and to history of science. Whether it was Popper’s idea or Lakatos’ idea, or, most likely, a combination, is of less importance.

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Posted: 21 February 2011 09:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 195 ]
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psikeyhackr - 21 February 2011 08:33 AM

Are controversial or WERE controversial?

Are.

How much experimental evidence has confirmed Einstein since then?

There has been plenty of experimental evidence confirming Einstein’s SR/GR, but according to Popper in this article HERE

1. It is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory — if we look for confirmations.

  2. Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions; that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in question, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory — an event which would have refuted the theory.

  3. Every “good” scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things to happen. The more a theory forbids, the better it is.

  4. A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue of a theory (as people often think) but a vice.

  5. Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or to refute it. Testability is falsifiability; but there are degrees of testability: some theories are more testable, more exposed to refutation, than others; they take, as it were, greater risks.

  6. Confirming evidence should not count except when it is the result of a genuine test of the theory; and this means that it can be presented as a serious but unsuccessful attempt to falsify the theory. (I now speak in such cases of “corroborating evidence.”)

  7. Some genuinely testable theories, when found to be false, are still upheld by their admirers — for example by introducing ad hoc some auxiliary assumption, or by reinterpreting the theory ad hoc in such a way that it escapes refutation. Such a procedure is always possible, but it rescues the theory from refutation only at the price of destroying, or at least lowering, its scientific status. (I later described such a rescuing operation as a “conventionalist twist” or a “conventionalist stratagem.”)

One can sum up all this by saying that the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability.

In the case of Einstein’s theories, the above conditions are met up to now, though the observations of Eddinton in 1919 are inconclusive.

Computers can be programmed to do anything.  But would it be a simulation?

You know that old cyber-saying:  Garbage In, Garbage Out.

The computers are too dumb to know what is garbage.

Computers are interactive machines and whether one gets GIGO or not depends on the skills of the programmers and the users. In other words, computers are only tools to be used for specific purposes..

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