## How does science work?

How does science work? And what's all this about quantum mechanics?

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Scott Mayers
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### Re: How does science work?

You have a box wrapped up under the Christmas tree and are curious to determine what is inside of it. While you may be able to wait until Christmas day to open it to determine what it is inside, much of reality is like such presents but we are not necessarily expecting a day when or where we could reveal what is inside. As such, we experiment on the box itself by interacting with it. You may lift it up (an 'input') and note how it resists gravity compared to other things (an 'output'). Shaking it a bit is another type of 'input' we can use to see how it responds. This input/output is the same as the action and reaction of Newtons' third law. [The confusing point I mentioned before was about reflecting that these behaviors imposed upon the unknown are themselves relative complements to the unknown factor being measured. Relative to say a puppy wrapped up in a box as a present, we are just as 'unknown' to the puppy inside who can act upon the box from the inside to attempt to infer what is outside of it.]

The set of the descriptions of the inputs-to-outputs are listed and analyzed to seek patterns. These patterns ARE what the container represents as a whole and what science does: determines HOW the patterns behave. You can ask 'why' when you are able to open it up. But what is inside is the relative 'why' of the container.

Then upon opening it up if you can, you may discover it is made up of two or more other distinct presents. How they are arranged inside defines 'why' of the whole; how the unopened boxes behave without concern to its insides are the mere 'how' from the perspective outside of it. Reality is still like this about the constant real objects that may be in these though. So if upon opening your present you discover a toy car, while this 'constant' satisfies the child's curiosity, the toy is itself made up of of component parts that are relative unknowns and so can be understood as presents within presents infinitely. The arrangements or ways of the parts in a container behave is the logical description of what something is and so represents a relative 'why' when it justifies why the original present not opened behaved the way it did (like lifting it and shaking it).

So "science" is the processes to infer from outside of something HOW it behaves and the WHY if we are able to open it up to learn with more certainty about the components that define the patterned behaviors that occurred before opening the box.

You can have two different computers/calculators that do exactly the same thing. HOW it operates defines it without concern for its particular components. But different architectures exist that can make the effect of the whole behave the same. Determining the particular architecture is the 'why' of that particular calculator as a whole.

Science then is not limited to asking only 'how' but both 'how' and 'why'.

A 'paradigm' is the particular ways one might analyze something uniquely and to what political/social limits involved that permit you to analyze them freely. In my house as a kid, the general rule was to allow us to lift a present but not shake it if it was in a box (because it might destroy what is inside), for instance. Some families permit the presents be unwrapped on Christmas Eve while others on Christmas morning or day. We may also have technologies today that permit us to learn more that didn't exist before. The set of behaviors of discover that are permitted or restricted to the culture, technologies, and other related factors ARE the paradigm.

Skepdick
Posts: 3780
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:16 am

### Re: How does science work?

RCSaunders wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 12:49 am
Skepdick wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:08 pm
What the hell is a "disingenuous question"?
It's just like this question. It's a subtle way of telling a lie, a pretense of ignorance.
Do you know what an ad hominem is? The reason I ask the question is because I don't know what a "disingenuous question" is.
I am also presuming that you must know what that is (since you are using the phrase), which is why I asked you the question.

The fact that you don't want to answer it is a separate matter.

uwot
Posts: 4699
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:21 am

### Re: How does science work?

Scott Mayers wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 2:18 am
You have a box wrapped up under the Christmas tree and are curious to determine what is inside of it. While you may be able to wait until Christmas day to open it to determine what it is inside...
Ah, I see. I think it's more the case that we are inside the box. We don't know how big it is, whether there is a Christmas tree on the other side, whether Santa put it there and so on. We have to infer all of that from the bits we can see. So if we see fur, we might well conclude that it's a puppy. Other people will think it's a kitten. I used the duck/rabbit illusion in the Kuhn article to make that point. But yeah, I get where you're coming from, and the analogy works, particularly when it comes to the fundamental ontology of particle physics.
Scott Mayers wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 2:18 am
Science then is not limited to asking only 'how' but both 'how' and 'why'.
Depends on which scientist you are listening to. It's one of the themes in the new article: https://philosophynow.org/issues/133/Ph ... _Millennia

RCSaunders
Posts: 1326
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:42 pm
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### Re: How does science work?

Skepdick wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 11:19 am
RCSaunders wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 12:49 am
Skepdick wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:08 pm
What the hell is a "disingenuous question"?
It's just like this question. It's a subtle way of telling a lie, a pretense of ignorance.
Do you know what an ad hominem is? The reason I ask the question is because I don't know what a "disingenuous question" is.
I am also presuming that you must know what that is (since you are using the phrase), which is why I asked you the question.

The fact that you don't want to answer it is a separate matter.
I don't want to answer it, but I will, because I do not make my choices based on what I want, but on what is right, and it is right to face the truth, not for your sake, but the sake of the honest who might read this and be interested in your obfuscations.

Disingenuous means:

1. Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating.
2. Pretending to be unaware or unsophisticated; faux-naïf.

A, "disingenuous question," is one that is insincere and calculating, a pretense of ignorance meant to deceive.

For example, you know perfectly well what a, "disingenuous question," is, else you would not have brought up ad hominem. If you didn't know what it meant, why would you think it was some kind of accusation of you? Actually it has nothing to do with you, unless you intended the deception, but only you can determine that.

Skepdick
Posts: 3780
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:16 am

### Re: How does science work?

RCSaunders wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 2:44 pm
I don't want to answer it, but I will, because I do not make my choices based on what I want, but on what is right, and it is right to face the truth, not for your sake, but the sake of the honest who might read this and be interested in your obfuscations.

Disingenuous means:

1. Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating.
2. Pretending to be unaware or unsophisticated; faux-naïf.

A, "disingenuous question," is one that is insincere and calculating, a pretense of ignorance meant to deceive.

For example, you know perfectly well what a, "disingenuous question," is, else you would not have brought up ad hominem. If you didn't know what it meant, why would you think it was some kind of accusation of you? Actually it has nothing to do with you, unless you intended the deception, but only you can determine that.
So then it follows that my question is not "disingenuous".

1. My question is straightforward.
2. I am not pretending to be unaware. I AM unaware of the contents of your mind. Because I am not a mind reader.

I am unaware of the time at which you became aware of your engineers' and recruiters' incompetence in relation to the collapse of the bridge.

Either you became aware of your engineers' and recruiters' incompetence BEFORE the bridge collapsed.
Or you became aware of your engineers' and recruiters' incompetence AFTER the bridge collapsed.

obscurantism. noun. the practice of deliberately preventing the facts or full details of something from becoming known.

Scott Mayers
Posts: 1632
Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2015 1:53 am

### Re: How does science work?

uwot wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 11:28 am
Scott Mayers wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 2:18 am
You have a box wrapped up under the Christmas tree and are curious to determine what is inside of it. While you may be able to wait until Christmas day to open it to determine what it is inside...
Ah, I see. I think it's more the case that we are inside the box. We don't know how big it is, whether there is a Christmas tree on the other side, whether Santa put it there and so on. We have to infer all of that from the bits we can see. So if we see fur, we might well conclude that it's a puppy. Other people will think it's a kitten. I used the duck/rabbit illusion in the Kuhn article to make that point. But yeah, I get where you're coming from, and the analogy works, particularly when it comes to the fundamental ontology of particle physics.
What follows in not in disrespect of your thinking but only to share with more insight from my perspective that I believe you already share. So don't feel obliged to read if you don't have time or patience. It is just extraneous but helps to express my preferences on how I approach 'science'.

I interpret the 'box' as relative in the way that one might have 'finitely' encapsulate some unknown, even if it may not be able to be encapsulated. And the confusion of adding other words, like 'portal' or 'point' was intended to express that the 'box' can also just be nothing or even a portal to something infinite. In this last way you can imaging that if you are perceiving what you are 'inside of', you can place that too in this imaginary box but recognize that what is 'inside' is not necessarily a container but a kind of pointer to an infinity of directions that is easier to make sense of.

One of the things I think that gets confused is to presume that what one is trying to understand is necessarily a 'constant' idea (non-dynamic in time or limited in space finitely). When Turing represented his model of machines, the tape he used presumed that the spaces of the tape were fixed/constant and is why the problem of incompleteness came about. But if, instead of these places on the tape to be understood as holding something 'finite', these can represent 'ports', which just means by the perspective of one trying to observe it, is that the information there is not fixed, or is 'variable'. You can imagine that some other access exists to these fixed places such that some other mechanism is also accessing this place and changing its information. This would explain how the information in that particular space is not staying constant. So a better way to look at each place, is to think of it not as necessarily finite but a 'portal'.

The 'box' then may be such that you inverted what you may be inside of to some fixed place or 'point'. I prefer the words, "point" and "pointer" now for my own purposes but had to add all those optional words to express this same meaning. That way what you 'point' to may be nothing, something particular, or many indeterminately numbered things. [This is how Euclid may have reasoned about points in geometric space. You just beg that some 'point' as represented by a dot, is a 'pointer' to any reality undefined other than the point itself. Then you strictly deal with the points in your theory or system of reasoning.

Others like Bertrand Russell and many logicians, did this too when they begun by treating 'objects' in his logic as having no constants except for the logical operators. The literals that are represented by letters then are ignored of particular meaning and are 'variables'. These too are 'boxes' related to my point.

I am trying to express the point here that if you investigate anything, even in science, you have to treat the phenomena you observe as a potential variable regardless of whether it is something fixed or constant. Then you manipulate the variables themselves as wholes without breaking into them, NOT opening those presents under the tree, and instead, ....treat the present AS the object. That then is where analyzing things through observation describes the 'how'. If we later discover we can open this unknown, then the new more fine description of its contents then too also have to be thought of as containers or unknowns. Then you only think of all things as 'presents' or, in my best personal preference, "pointers", and only look at the RELATIONSHIP of these variables to one another.

This is the 'Rationalist' approach of your (1) in the article. I'm sorry for going into the depth on this point (no pun on 'point' here). I was trying to express that this CAN be sufficient to answer the other questions from an analytical perspective and ignoring any 'consensus' that the institute of "science" represents. In this way science is incomplete where it merely represents a collection of subjective observers. So to me, the Rationalism has to exist with priority to even judge the other points: (2) evidence and (3) utility (usefulness).

I have less respect for the term 'evidence' these days when what is 'observed' are as those presents. The interpretation of the word is subjective itself because it is also only a 'practical' device and which makes your (2) a (3) [makes 'evidence' a utility by consensus or popular interpretation of some group, whether they be official scientists or not]. "Science" can then be thought of AS a 'rationalist' means to address unknowns with the best efficiency among other observers. So, to me, only (1) covers the others in a organized way or governs the others. "evidence" would be covered by the "practicality" to me because what people think is 'obvious' about something observed CAN be biased even where what is being observed is itself identically shared.
Scott Mayers wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 2:18 am
Science then is not limited to asking only 'how' but both 'how' and 'why'.
Depends on which scientist you are listening to. It's one of the themes in the new article: https://philosophynow.org/issues/133/Ph ... _Millennia
With which of these three propositions do you most agree? A scientific theory must be:

(1) A logically coherent explanation.

(2) Supported by evidence.

(3) Useful.

If you are firmly of the opinion that one of these is the defining feature of science, then in philosophical terms you are either (1) a rationalist, (2) an empiricist, or (3) a pragmatist. Moreover, if you happen to be a scientist, then it is likely that your main interest is (1) Theoretical, (2) Experimental, or (3) Instrumental. More generally, you might just like to (1) Have an idea about how something works, (2) Find out how it works, or (3) Just make it work.
You now know I agree to prioritize (1), treat (2) as a more of a subset of (3), but that (2) and (3) are (or can be) interpreted as covered by (1). The meaning of 'evidence' is observer-related because of the duck/rabbit thing demonstrates, the perspective may validate anyone's idea of "evidence" and don't believe it can speak for itself by all without some means to assure each subject actually CAN perceive the same as any other among a group (such as "scientists" as one such class).

Although I have most of the resources in question here, I admit that I haven't read sufficiently enough on Aristotle's works directly (yet?) but understood the context of what we can learn of him indirectly from other sources that summarize things. From actually reading all of Plato's works I learned that you CAN interpret even the people of the past as completely valid from their perspective if you are able to toss out what you know now to get into their 'paradigm'. I favor learning from bottom up by NOT biasing yourself with what is summarized in science NOW and then interpret it from that perspective. You lose a lot of understanding if you can't "empty your teacup" so-to-speak in Zen style.

I don't look at past figures in history as actual people either but as references to perspectives of which some person's name is attached. In Plato and Aristotles' day, they too often thought of it this way and so what can be passed down to us by some particular author may be in 'respect' of the teachers or initial label of the 'school of thought' that one is writing on. Thus you CAN get inconsistencies about what appears as one person speaking when it may be just a collection of them. Today's bias to demand CREDIT to specific people and institutes is more about copyright-type protections and a practice that can also be used to force those IN the groups sharing analysis to link ideas together without having no stable roots to communicate with.

Aristotle's views, if taken as a perspective then, had virtue in the collecting of others views prior and up to that point. His borrowing of those 'elements' thus do not indicate necessarily what he thought but a means to express that all the various views could be combined to date to represent reality. The four elements I understood can be reinterpreted as 'valid' if you respectfully interpret "Earth" ad meaning "solids", "Air and Water" as "fluids", with "air" more particularly as "gas" and "water" as "liquids". THAT is giving fair interpretation of Aristotle in his day. The fifth was not something I understood as claimed certain but was a reference to the nature of 'fluids' to be DYNAMIC and have something in it that contributes to conscious life. The four elements are then the roots of "States" (solids, liquids, gases) and "Energy" (fire). The fifth was more of an extension about humanity or 'conscious' life in general. It was the 'philosopher's stone" to which represented the 'magic' of life. The term "quintessential" comes from this and was NOT implying that it was a part of the other four but as a mystery. Why, for instance, does the air provide a need for life when it was not perceived directly by sight? This was the 'spirit' of X in many scriptures of religious origins that I think were actually the secular question about the unknown factors of the substances that make up reality.

As for his interpretation of gravity, this was about how he separated, as did others all the way back in time, that things are either solids of fluids at first. ("chaos" represented the nature of randomness of fluids; "earths" was the extreme of an ideal solid). To give charity of respect of this way of first classifying things in two was where his presumed errors about the properties of gravity operated. This too could be a MISINTERPRETATION through only the latter people's perspective. So, carrying on from the solid/fluid distinction, he may have been arguing that the nature of fluid solids are collective points of space localized compared to points that are random and constantly moving. The 'Earth' then is generic to the observed generalization of the planet as a whole to be a solid. Thus that things are pulled 'down' preferentially to the Earth but not to other relatively smaller things, like that two rocks don't seem to 'attract' one another but the Earth is able to, suggests in this 'dichotomy' (two-way classification, not paradox) that What is larger has more POWER to attract than smaller solids. He took all forms dynamic exchanges of solids as ONE 'force' in general and didn't distinguish between what we now mean as force, momentum, energy, and power. In this way, his analysis was not necessarily in error by the actual source author(s), but just an INCOMPLETE analysis.

When Galileo came along, I also think it is an error to assume that his latter efforts to 'prove' to others by demonstration (experiment) was NOT what made him himself recognize the truth of gravity, but only 'confirmed' it for those who cannot 'do logic'. You were correct at pointing out his logical thinking and to me IS the intelligence that helped add more information not thought of by Aristotle, not the experiments used to determine the literal force of gravity, which just incidentally 'proves' the logic of his prior explanations. I think if Aristotle met Galileo, he'd adopt Galileo's more 'complete' explanation that separated 'dynamic cause' concepts more distinctly. It is still true, for instance, that if an object is larger, when it hits you compared to a lighter one, the effect of the larger is more powerful. What the mistake of Aristotle's was, if the interpreter's of those supporting him at the time of Galileo was correct, was that they summarized all changes of solids at requiring 'more' of something for 'more' of a quantity of the solids in question. Since a faster rock hitting you also of the same size compared to a slower one is greater, then the assumption that a larger object getting 'quicker' of some kind of race between different sized objects is relatively sound when interpreting their meaning as 'energy', and NOT 'force'. That then is the more fair interpretation of Aristotle. It wasn't an error in reasoning if you made the dichotomy to be about energy versus matter. They needed to peak into the box, "energy" to discover that it is made up of smaller parts before they could make sense of any distinction between causal changes. At the time of Aristotle, they didn't have general words to express this separation just as they lacked a number system that included zero in it to express mathematics without Euclid's geometrical representations of them. (Btw, I think/bet the word 'zero' itself is related to Zeno, which may give a hint of the stage of Aristotle's thinking of the time.)

Note too that even Galileo was incomplete in expression. It is NOT precisely true that matter with respect to mass alone makes any mass accelerate at one rate independently. The shape actually matters even in a vaccuum. The reality about the rate of acceleration due to Earth's gravitational force is not actually fixed but relates to the vertical distance from the mass. Two bricks side by side differ then from two bricks one on top of the other. This is because the relative 'density' of the object in the vertical direction differs from the horizontal. The 'independence' of the force of gravity then is more precisely that anything at some particular distance from Earth will fall at some given rate (of acceleration) in the direction of the different objects (Earth versus any object). Had Aristotle thought this far, he'd be unable to express this as it requires more depth of distinction about causal changes. But even Galileo only addressed this concept as 'understood' to mean that the mass, regardless of density, is treated as at one point in space regardless of shape.

I won't comment further given I know you already know this and the article is just limited to a page. I was just adding depth to show that the 'rationalist' part to me is most significant where 'evidence' and 'practicality' are dependent upon being only a partial subset of reasoning. Evidence, more particularly may best be expressed or presented descriptively but often gets biased to include things that most people aren't aware of without some unspoken factors being assumed, like perspective, for instance. AND, this means that while observing is something that aids us in understanding, I think there CAN be a way to discover reality without direct experience. What the observation then may do, in similar respect to Popper's meaning, it may point out a counter-proof to some argument. But to me this too then may just mean that something is only wrong rationally for being less precise (or incomplete). It forces one to split the unknown box into two or more different ones. Nature didn't need 'evidence' prior to determining whether it was true or not before manifesting itself. So there HAS to be some way to deduce all of reality by some reasoning that lacks concern about whether it is observed or not.

uwot
Posts: 4699
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:21 am

### Re: How does science work?

Thanks for that post. I won't go through all of it, there's nothing there that I strongly disagree with, but I will just comment on your conclusion:
Scott Mayers wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:47 am
So there HAS to be some way to deduce all of reality by some reasoning that lacks concern about whether it is observed or not.
I have nothing against rationalism. In fact the book I wrote is an exercise in precisely that and yeah, I think contains coherent explanations of gravity, dark energy, quantum mechanics, dark energy, time dilation - most of the big stuff that needs explaining. The thing is with any explanation, it is only so true as it agrees with experiment and human beings, being creative little monkeys are capable of coming up with any number of explanations for exactly the same facts. As I quote:

“All this is a dream. Still examine it by a few experiments. Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature; and in such things as these, experiment is the best test of such consistency.”