Homepage Forums Scientific Method, Skepticism The Doubt Factory

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  • #760
    BreakableBreakable
    Keymaster
    #5996
    Avatarjjohnson
    Member

    An absolutely indispensable bookmark – 5 stars. If only the public would read and understand these simple, straightforward points.

    #5997
    AvatarRezwan
    Member

    It’s important to emphasize that science is not an ideology, rejects authority and expertise, and is by most measures a subversive activity. This means those who pay for science must want science’s results badly enough to tolerate a process that stands in opposition to all conventional norms of loyalty or tact.

    In opposition to tact? There’s no excuse to be rude. Let’s not use the scientific method as an excuse for tactlessness.

    Tact is more of a social skill. Etiquette.

    In spite of how often one hears the term “scientific law,” there is no such thing.

    * Because scientific theories cannot be proven true (see above), they cannot ever become laws.
    * The commonly heard expression “scientific law” is an informal way to add emphasis to an idea, but it is technically incorrect.
    * A “law” is by definition something permanent and immutable, but because scientific theories can always be disproven by new evidence, the idea of a “scientific law” has no basis in reality.
    * As just one example, Newton’s “Law of Gravity” has been replaced by Einstein’s “Law of Gravity” and, because of some theoretical problems, Einstein’s “Law of Gravity” will eventually be replaced by a new “Law of Gravity” that is unknown at present.

    In short, there are no scientific laws, only falsifiable theories.

    Wonder by whose definition a “law” is something permanent and immutable. There is a range of definitions of law in the dictionary, of which this one applies: “a generalization based on a fact or event perceived to be recurrent”

    Generalizations aren’t immutable or permanent.

    They are convenient.

    #5998
    Avatartcg
    Member

    A fabulous article, one bound to raise a lot of discussion. It works around two observations which have been bothering me greatly.

    First, Science has been too much contaminated by Religious methodology. Much of particle physics (String Theory) and cosmology (The Big Bang, Dark Matter), to name just two areas, are sustained by faith rather than observation and experiment. The true believers run the show in both areas and are seem to spend most of their time ignoring or destroying opposition. Try to publish a paper which contradicts the “received wisdom” in these fields and see what happens.

    Second, Religion has tried to gain validity by absorbing the trappings of Science — Creationism comes to mind. They seek to prove that their faith is correct with scientific rigor, when actually it is beyond the need for such proof.

    Science and Religion are like oil and water. They don’t mix; they should not mix. Each has its own validity and domain and they should be kept apart.

    The article suggests that the betterment of this situation must start in the schools, but I disagree. The problem is at the top, among the ultimate practitioners, the leaders. They are the ones who need to get their head straight.

    #5999
    AvatarAeronaut
    Member

    WOW. I especially like the last chart.

    #6021
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    tcg wrote:

    Science and Religion are like oil and water. They don’t mix; they should not mix. Each has its own validity and domain and they should be kept apart.

    Science has discovered that totally air-free water mixes quite well with oil!
    Therefore, after you stop breathing you will be able to mix religion and science at will. 😉 :cheese:

    #6022
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    Rezwan;
    Your equivalence of “generalization” and “law” doesn’t reflect how the term “scientific law” is used, except by those who are thoroughly immersed in scientific usage and terminology. It is, in fact, used by all others to refer to something (they consider to be) fixed, known as a certainty, having no restrictions or qualifications.

    Did you note the article’s (well-deserved) slam on government-funded science? It’s always for a purpose–the politicians’ purpose(s). Which is/are very unlikely, despite any and all assurances, to be the same as the researchers’.

    Piper-payers never give up the right to call the tune.

    #6023
    AvatarRezwan
    Member

    Brian H wrote: Rezwan;
    Your equivalence of “generalization” and “law” doesn’t reflect how the term “scientific law” is used, except by those who are thoroughly immersed in scientific usage and terminology. It is, in fact, used by all others to refer to something (they consider to be) fixed, known as a certainty, having no restrictions or qualifications.

    I know. I’m trying to extend this awareness to law in general. People like certainty, they long for laws of the second sort so they can have that certainty.

    I like Rushkoff’s take on laws:

    A corporation can’t be a place where rules are enforced, as much as taught, in order for them to be challenged, improved, and changed.

    You can switch out the words “corporation” for a variety of other institutions (“government” “the Catholic Church”, “x”), and “rules” for “laws”.

    Did you note the article’s (well-deserved) slam on government-funded science? It’s always for a purpose–the politicians’ purpose(s). Which is/are very unlikely, despite any and all assurances, to be the same as the researchers’.

    Piper-payers never give up the right to call the tune.

    And here, you can switch out “government-funded” with “corporation-funded” or any “x-funded” science. If it requires any sort of funding, it will require some sort of catering to a funder.

    And you can also question the researchers purposes. Many of them want a paycheck and a steady career, and will often find their results at odds with that.

    The blame pie has a slice for everyone. Perhaps the “government” slice is larger, but everyone has a slice with their name on it. The problem is bigger than one institution.

    Like Taleb says about the pursuit of science:

    Peer Cruelty
    Every morning you leave your cramped apartment in Manhattan’s East Village to go to your laboratory at the Rockefeller University in the East Sixties. You return in the late evening, and people in your social network ask you if you had a good day, just to be polite. At the laboratory, people are more tactful. Of course you did not have a good day; you found nothing. You are not a watch repairman. Your finding nothing is very valuable, since it is part of the process of discovery – hey, you know where not to look. Other researchers, knowing your results, would avoid trying your special experiment, provided a journal is thoughtful enough to consider your “found nothing” as information and publish it.

    Meanwhile your brother-in-law is a salesman for a Wall Street firm, and keeps getting large commissions – large and steady commissions. “He is doing very well,” you hear, particularly from your father-in-law, with a small pensive nanosecond of silence after the utterance – which makes you realize that he just made a comparison. It was involuntary, but he made one.

    … [a lot more here – great essay! But long]

    Many people labor in life under the impression that they are doing something right, yet they may not show solid results for a long time. They need a capacity for continuously adjourned gratification to survive a steady diet of peer cruelty without becoming demoralized. They look like idiots to their cousins, they look like idiots to their peers, they need courage to continue. No confirmation comes to them, no validation, no fawning students, no Nobel, no Schnobel. “How was your year:” brings them a small but containable spasm of pain deep inside, since almost all of their years will seem wasted to someone looking at their life from the outside. Then bang, the lumpy event comes that brings the grand vindication. Or it may never come.

    Believe me, it is tough to deal with the social consequences of the appearance of continuous failure. We are social animals; hell is other people.

    Among other things, this brings me back to the whole etiquette thing. No need to be cruel and mocking toward anyone. As if deriding people in any way speeds up the process of discovery.

    #6028
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    Rezwan wrote:

    And here, you can switch out “government-funded” with “corporation-funded” or any “x-funded” science. If it requires any sort of funding, it will require some sort of catering to a funder.

    And you can also question the researchers purposes. Many of them want a paycheck and a steady career, and will often find their results at odds with that.

    The blame pie has a slice for everyone. Perhaps the “government” slice is larger, but everyone has a slice with their name on it. The problem is bigger than one institution.

    Of course it’s a matter of degree, but it’s major and continuous with government. Just take a look at how Obama is jerking around NASA.
    I like Eric’s basic plan: invite people along for what could be a fantastic ride and investment, but retain firm majority control. Even if it’s slower and iffier up front, it’s far safer and “freer” in the medium and long term.

    #13173

    Hi

    I wonder the result of the LPP experiments have they being confirmed or survived of others?

    Have results been published in well known and respected scientific journals?

    I found this project quite recent and found it very interesting, but I wont to know its reliability also.

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