How does science work?

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

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commonsense
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Re: How does science work?

Post by commonsense » Wed Jul 17, 2019 7:24 pm

-1- wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 8:39 pm
Before y'all folks jump all over me: I meant to say that science never explains the "why". It explains the "how".

That's what I meant by saying "science does not explain anything."
Ah. Now I understand. Please excuse my past misuse of “why” (I.e. as if how something happens is why something happens).

Scott Mayers
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Re: How does science work?

Post by Scott Mayers » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:39 pm

uwot wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 8:27 am
-1- wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 8:39 pm
Before y'all folks jump all over me: I meant to say that science never explains the "why". It explains the "how".

That's what I meant by saying "science does not explain anything."
Well, "why" is ultimately philosophy. Here's a paragraph from a draft of the article:

Some physicists take a very dim view of philosophy. According to the late Stephen Hawking, philosophy is dead, because “Philosophers have not kept up with modern developments in science. Particularly physics.” But what of physicists doing philosophy? Steven Weinberg wrote in Dreams of a final theory a chapter called Against philosophy, part of the thrust of which is that the only service philosophers can provide physicists is to point out how useless other philosophers are. Even so, he concedes that: “Physicists do of course carry around with them a working philosophy. For most of us, it is a rough-and-ready realism, a belief in the objective reality of the ingredients of our scientific theories.”

So scientists do generally have an idea of 'why', but it doesn't make any difference to the mathematical models, which are the ones that count, because you can do things with them.
I always found the concern of the difference of the 'how' versus 'why' odd. I've only run into this most significantly in the religious apologetic efforts to dismiss or trivialize science with respect to religious issues. I interpret "why" to mean "for what (cause)". Some interpret this as meaning "what evaluative cause or purpose for X?" but I never see this as a concern being non-religious with respect to physical reality. As such, to me, science DOES answer the 'why' necessarily but means "for what (causal connection) about X?" 'How' only expands on some process where why asserts the causal connections between known things.

Although I share intentions of the popularizing of science by Stephen Hawking, by the way, he is one author I found lacking in the WAY he communicates. He has nice illustrations in the works I've seen but skips over questions on particulars that an actual self-seeking learner would be (should be) satisfied with that I often see in a lot of popularizing works.

Have you or anyone ever read some of the much older books that taught in a 'foundational' way? One pronounced type that I like that connects the discovery of science and math is "Mathematics for the Million" (no 's' in the "million"!) by Lancelot Hogben from 1937. The older books of this style taught the original philosopher-first approach because it believed that people should understand the 'why' of discovery through a step by step understanding. Using motivational justification for seeking answers by the reader helps them process the way science progressed in a way the reader can participate without first being expected to TRUST. If science is about reasoning by the senses to the analytic process using math and logic, this is the best way one can learn in both a practical and theoretical way with better confidence in understanding things. Today's paradigm has opted to favor the means to get people through the basic overall themes of science by focusing on ones 'clerical' aptitudes with priority and NOT their full understanding. This favors better those who 'labor' under science up front and leave the thinking to those with the PhDs (philosophical degree or doctrate). I hated this because it places emphasis on AUTHORITY first prior to being permitted to actually think.

Scott Mayers
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Re: How does science work?

Post by Scott Mayers » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:47 pm

N.B.: By the way, does anyone else here not feel ripped off when discovering a documentary on Stephen Hawking that you think if about his actual scientific input only to discover it is about his life story regarding his disabilities? He at least had a series he had done before he passed away that was on topic to his own expertise and not his debilitation. But I also find this with other documentaries on others like Einstein and Darwin. While the social factors surrounding the life of these heroes are good as extras, it seems that most investments regarding the particular scientists should be about their actual science input and not about their social life other than to ADD value in understanding the motivations that relate to their input.

uwot
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Re: How does science work?

Post by uwot » Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:32 am

-1- wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 8:39 pm
Before y'all folks jump all over me: I meant to say that science never explains the "why". It explains the "how".
Scott Mayers wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:39 pm
I always found the concern of the difference of the 'how' versus 'why' odd.
Well, this thread was originally about me writing an article for Philosophy Now. The OP was written over a year ago and the article is in the next edition of PN, which is coming out in a couple of weeks. It opens like this:

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.

The difference between how and why, at least as I use them in the article can be expressed like this:

How does gravity work? Answer: according to the rules set out in Einstein's Field Equations. That is both supported by evidence and is useful.
Why does gravity work? Answer: Er, well no one really knows, but according to General Relativity, it's because there's this rubbery stuff called 'spacetime' which gets warped by massive objects. There is no direct evidence for 'spacetime', but it doesn't really matter, because whether it exists or not makes no difference to the efficacy of the field equations.

Physicists moaning about philosophy are sometimes citing an anecdote about some loudmouth metaphysician pest with no idea what they are talking about, examples of which are all over this forum. But even the most hard-nosed instrumentalist physicist is likely to have a philosophical model; a concept for why, in the above sense, their mathematics works*. Philosophical models are part of what Kuhn called paradigms. As it happens, when I was discussing the article with the editors, they asked if I could do a biography of Kuhn. So I did: https://philosophynow.org/issues/131/Th ... _1922-1996

*Richard Feynman is worth watching on this point: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM-zWTU7X-k

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Re: How does science work?

Post by Scott Mayers » Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:07 pm

uwot wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:32 am
-1- wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 8:39 pm
Before y'all folks jump all over me: I meant to say that science never explains the "why". It explains the "how".
Scott Mayers wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:39 pm
I always found the concern of the difference of the 'how' versus 'why' odd.
Well, this thread was originally about me writing an article for Philosophy Now. The OP was written over a year ago and the article is in the next edition of PN, which is coming out in a couple of weeks. It opens like this:

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.
I'll have to read the article to see how you expanded on this. I would pick all of these as essential. But the emphasis is more on the practicality as to which choices are made on the 'fringes' of science that are less threatening to the particular middle parts of science. I don't approve of how science tends to act as an institute that evolved to be more political as it is for the power of selecting which theories are most useful though. A fuzziness exists with the word "evidence" when what is observed often has a description that gets passed by without noticing it can be laden with bias. [Like how someone who might tell you to look at some flower and presume that it is obviously something 'beautiful' as some intrinsic fact that cannot be denied.]
uwot wrote: The difference between how and why, at least as I use them in the article can be expressed like this:

How does gravity work? Answer: according to the rules set out in Einstein's Field Equations. That is both supported by evidence and is useful.
Why does gravity work? Answer: Er, well no one really knows, but according to General Relativity, it's because there's this rubbery stuff called 'spacetime' which gets warped by massive objects. There is no direct evidence for 'spacetime', but it doesn't really matter, because whether it exists or not makes no difference to the efficacy of the field equations.

Physicists moaning about philosophy are sometimes citing an anecdote about some loudmouth metaphysician pest with no idea what they are talking about, examples of which are all over this forum. But even the most hard-nosed instrumentalist physicist is likely to have a philosophical model; a concept for why, in the above sense, their mathematics works*. Philosophical models are part of what Kuhn called paradigms. As it happens, when I was discussing the article with the editors, they asked if I could do a biography of Kuhn. So I did: https://philosophynow.org/issues/131/Th ... _1922-1996

*Richard Feynman is worth watching on this point: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM-zWTU7X-k
Since we talking about 'fringes' (very small and the very large extremes on some of science) the question is about an "ultimate" apriori premise in a logical explanation, not that science doesn't answer, "why". I have noticed that the root of the question originates with the demarcation which is about the religious interpretation of whether something God-like or God itself is the ultimate source. As to something I disagree to beyond this is the presumption that is as equally illogical: a belief that NO such absolute truth can be discovered within the fringes. This is the paradigm that I think is occurring that is strictly due to culture and the times. Because, for instance, demarcation was needed to separate which things should be permitted in a practical way with respect to politics, some theories are placed forward even if they are not sincerely the best. In some ways this is similar to a magician who wants to save their jobs by ensuring some parts are sufficiently 'mysterious' and require a kind of faith in the presentation. As long as it 'entertains' as it is expected to, the society will permit the magician to continue doing what it does best. For science, I believe a lot of it within institutes tends towards political cycles in the same fashion as Karl Marx's reference to this in history of governments.

I'll look at the articles. I'm guessing that I'll likely already agree with you in context to your own process of expression I follow.

What I think HAS to be recognized against the strict empirical presumption is that given reality is NOT a God-essence, at its roots must lie a justification that has NO complexity nor laws or it would still reduce to referencing some hint of a belief unchecked. Laws of physics, for instance, can only be coinciding set of patterns rooted in nothing but a kind of 'evolution' of patterns. And even this presumes too much given it suggests that the rest is eliminated when our contingent reality can only be relatively eliminated. AS such, there has to be SOME actual way to express the reality of physical origins at their roots that needs NO actual observation given no 'observer' should be presumed to be at those origins. Any theories, like the Big Bang, that restrict us from questioning the 'evidence' where this is merely about interpretation, for instance, has to be sought out with a real source explanation in mind....even if we humans MAY possibly not be able to determine this. But we cannot dictate that there IS none without realizing that that claim is itself conflicting with itself: That "there is not absolute truth", for instance, begs that this claim is itself an absolute truth where no 'exceptions' can be permitted or it reduces to a relative expression of practicality alone.

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Re: How does science work?

Post by Scott Mayers » Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:57 pm

Okay, I finally read your article complete agree with the general description of Kuhn. But...
...This demanded that anything that could not be supported by empirical evidence or strict logic was metaphysics and had no place in science (or indeed, anywhere else). One major problem – which in fairness the logical positivists were well aware of – is that no amount of empirical evidence (or logic) can prove a scientific claim. The classic example is that a million white swans do not prove that every swan is white. Popper’s innovation was to point out that it only takes one black swan to prove that the proposition ‘all swans are white’ is false. So the evidence could show you either what was only likely to be true, or what was definitely false. Therefore, as an endeavour seeking certainty, science should commit itself to trying to prove its own theories wrong. This is Popper’s principle of falsification.
I have both Kuhn and Popper's works although I haven't felt a necessity to read them when I got the gist of them through many sources already. I underlined the above to point out that this is the stated example OF our 'paradigm' that is blinding us today. It is my paraphrase about certainty above that makes this statement. The swan example, of which I am familiar, suffices to show something about things 'contingent' and relatively impossible to determine. But this is a bad example to speak of on the absolutes of origins or ends, those 'fringes', or any similar logical extremes.

There HAS to be a reality about Totality (meaning the absolute whole of which our Universe is a subset) that rationally 'explains' how our contingent world's laws are about and why. If not, as I already said in different words, we'd require a presumption of a complex reality AT all levels that can never be resolved for that complexity. But, given we cannot ALL agree to this among others comprising of a community of human scientists (or 'observers') this reduces to politics and where I have to agree with Kuhn. You mentioned his left-wing roots and leanings. His roots relate to Marx's theories on the history with respect to politics, something oddly relevant to why even Communism as his own hopeful cure is never able to overcome.

I have a pointed example of how the paradigm on Einstein relates to Aristotle and other philosophies overlooked. Aristotle's explanation of why something continues to move, though not seemingly correct, is reconstructed through relativity. In particular, Zeno's paradox of The Arrow, is where Einstein's idea likely came from either directly or indirectly. That the SHAPE of something changes when moving, is akin to Aristotle's' interpretation of what the difference between an arrow standing still versus one moving comes from. Also, because of the way I learn by attempting to reconstruct the theories from how the past learned step by step, I figured out how Newton's theories encompass relativity by only adding a fixed speed of time to his theories without the same exact explanations by Einstein. Much of this is by philosophically looking at the wording without requiring adding any necessary NEW observations, such as THAT the speed of light is demonstrated as 'fixed'. [You CAN infer directly from everyone's simplest experience and logic alone how there must be a fastest speed, for instance.

So on this last point, I'm saying that there can be a logical process that doesn't require 'novel' experiments to prove a new explanation (theory) is valid. In fact, the one political error we continue to make in our 'paradigm' (as with past ones too) is the presumption that the first person to claim a novel theory that predicts with success, is treated as THE theory that cannot disrespect the author (as though their 'artistic' expression is copyrighted intrinsic to the reality). This conservation tends to prevent changes in the artistic models that may be needed, even if by themselves are 'equal', because a novel one being equal in that way can be more powerful to connect external theories.

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Re: How does science work?

Post by Dubious » Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:35 am

I may seem like a troglodyte for writing this but I see no reason why Kuhn is so famous. It's not as if he invented a new technique or paradigm for discovering scientific truth. He merely summarized philosophically the methodologies which have long been practiced but there's really only one to discover what nature keeps hidden and that's to observe and experiment constantly and consistently until that data becomes viable in a theory. Paradigms have always shifted so what's new? Regardless of how much we want to believe our own theories or how brilliant they appear, nature has always been the great corrective. In effect, if we want to discover its operations from galaxies to quarks it is we who must surrender in the hope of eventually creating a theory which no matter how successful is never complete.

My point is simply the moles who do the real work in science are not likely to preamble there research and discoveries by any so-called philosophy of science as if it required its mandate for authenticity. So in my abysmal ignorance I'm forced to inquire: would anything be different if the likes of Popper and Kuhn had never written anything? I doubt it. Science is grunt work trying to make the parts fit by any and all means.

Having said that, I don't negate a philosophy which strives for a method to understand the world as the initial impetus to move it into the realm of physics for further examination but there is nothing in Kuhn which correlates to that kind of emphasis...that I read of. He merely summarizes philosophically what has always been the case whether we were overtly aware of it or not while the grunt work goes on.

uwot
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Re: How does science work?

Post by uwot » Sat Jul 20, 2019 8:04 am

Scott Mayers wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:57 pm
I wrote: no amount of empirical evidence (or logic) can prove a scientific claim.
I underlined the above to point out that this is the stated example OF our 'paradigm' that is blinding us today.
It's the problem of induction.
Scott Mayers wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:57 pm
There HAS to be a reality about Totality (meaning the absolute whole of which our Universe is a subset) that rationally 'explains' how our contingent world's laws are about and why.
Well yeah, the universe is what it is, and it does what it does. The thing is, no matter how well a theory accounts for the known behaviour of the universe, there is no way to know that it will account for all future observations. All theories are underdetermined. Maybe some bright spark will discover the Ultimate Truth. Trouble is, we'll never know it.
Scott Mayers wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:57 pm
You mentioned his left-wing roots and leanings. His roots relate to Marx's theories on the history with respect to politics, something oddly relevant to why even Communism as his own hopeful cure is never able to overcome.
I mentioned that his parents were left-wing. I've no idea what Kuhn's personal politics were, but given that he lived through McCarthyism with no ill effects that I'm aware of, I'd be interested to know why you imply he was a communist.
Scott Mayers wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:57 pm
I have a pointed example of how the paradigm on Einstein relates to Aristotle and other philosophies overlooked. Aristotle's explanation of why something continues to move, though not seemingly correct, is reconstructed through relativity.
It really isn't. Pretty much everything Aristotle said about why things move and continue to move is complete bollocks.
Scott Mayers wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:57 pm
In particular, Zeno's paradox of The Arrow, is where Einstein's idea likely came from either directly or indirectly. That the SHAPE of something changes when moving, is akin to Aristotle's' interpretation of what the difference between an arrow standing still versus one moving comes from.
Well Zeno's argument was that the arrow couldn't move and that change is therefore an illusion. I made that point in another article 5 years ago: https://philosophynow.org/issues/104/Ph ... d_Branches Einstein's claim was that objects moving relative to you, specifically coming towards you, appear shorter in the direction of travel. This is based on Lorentz transformation which is basically a consequence of the Doppler effect. If moving objects actually became shorter, they would appear even shorter than they in fact do.
Scott Mayers wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:57 pm
Also, because of the way I learn by attempting to reconstruct the theories from how the past learned step by step...
That's pretty much what Kuhn advocated. As the article quotes Kuhn: “When reading the works of an important thinker, look first for the apparent absurdities in the text and ask yourself how a sensible person could have written them”
Scott Mayers wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:57 pm
...I figured out how Newton's theories encompass relativity by only adding a fixed speed of time to his theories without the same exact explanations by Einstein. Much of this is by philosophically looking at the wording without requiring adding any necessary NEW observations, such as THAT the speed of light is demonstrated as 'fixed'. [You CAN infer directly from everyone's simplest experience and logic alone how there must be a fastest speed, for instance.
And that's pretty much what Kuhn called 'normal science' - working out the issues and implications that a given paradigm raises.
Scott Mayers wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:57 pm
So on this last point, I'm saying that there can be a logical process that doesn't require 'novel' experiments to prove a new explanation (theory) is valid.
Yes indeed, logic can tell you whether your argument is valid, the trick is then to devise an experiment that can test whether your conclusions are correct which, fundamentally, is the point Karl Popper emphasised.
Scott Mayers wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:57 pm
In fact, the one political error we continue to make in our 'paradigm' (as with past ones too) is the presumption that the first person to claim a novel theory that predicts with success, is treated as THE theory that cannot disrespect the author (as though their 'artistic' expression is copyrighted intrinsic to the reality). This conservation tends to prevent changes in the artistic models that may be needed, even if by themselves are 'equal', because a novel one being equal in that way can be more powerful to connect external theories.
A lot of physicists' favourite philosopher is Popper. He, as you will know, advocated that scientists try to prove theories wrong. The rationale being that while you can never prove a theory right, you can prove it wrong.
Logical arguments for why some theory is valid don't win Nobel Prizes, at least not until the experiments prove it.

uwot
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Re: How does science work?

Post by uwot » Sat Jul 20, 2019 8:32 am

Dubious wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:35 am
I may seem like a troglodyte for writing this but I see no reason why Kuhn is so famous. It's not as if he invented a new technique or paradigm for discovering scientific truth. He merely summarized philosophically the methodologies which have long been practiced but there's really only one to discover what nature keeps hidden and that's to observe and experiment constantly and consistently until that data becomes viable in a theory. Paradigms have always shifted so what's new?
Well yeah, in retrospect it seems bleeding' obvious, but Kuhn wrote the book that made everyone realise.
Dubious wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:35 am
Regardless of how much we want to believe our own theories or how brilliant they appear, nature has always been the great corrective. In effect, if we want to discover its operations from galaxies to quarks it is we who must surrender in the hope of eventually creating a theory which no matter how successful is never complete.
As I said to Scott Mayers, it may be that a successful theory is complete, but we can never be sure.
Dubious wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:35 am
My point is simply the moles who do the real work in science are not likely to preamble there research and discoveries by any so-called philosophy of science as if it required its mandate for authenticity. So in my abysmal ignorance I'm forced to inquire: would anything be different if the likes of Popper and Kuhn had never written anything? I doubt it.
There probably wouldn't be any Science & Technology Studies departments in universities. Moot whether that's a good thing.
Dubious wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:35 am
Science is grunt work trying to make the parts fit by any and all means.
And so says Feyerabend.
Dubious wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:35 am
Having said that, I don't negate a philosophy which strives for a method to understand the world as the initial impetus to move it into the realm of physics for further examination but there is nothing in Kuhn which correlates to that kind of emphasis...that I read of. He merely summarizes philosophically what has always been the case whether we were overtly aware of it or not while the grunt work goes on.
Well you could in many circumstances substitute the word 'philosophy' for 'paradigm'. Both are conceptual models that allow scientists to explore theories other than mathematically. Einstein was particularly good at it. Special relativity owes a lot to Einstein's concept of space being a vacuum. General relativity, by contrast, owes much to Einstein's concept of 'spacetime' being a substance with mechanical properties, i.e. not a vacuum.
This is the same clip as above, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM-zWTU7X-k but it's worth watching from around the 3 minute mark where Feynman makes the point different philosophies/paradigms are useful, if not essential to science.

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Re: How does science work?

Post by RCSaunders » Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:49 pm

Dubious wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:35 am
I may seem like a troglodyte for writing this but I see no reason why Kuhn is so famous.
You are definitely not a troglodyte. Kuhn should be infamous.

Here's the article I just posted here:

Will Bouwman's Philosophy Now article, "Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996)" is a wonderful illustration of what is wrong with philosophers attempting to identify what science is and how it ought to be done. For example:

"In the middle of the twentieth century the philosophy of science was almost exclusively focussed on defining the scientific method. The assumption was that science is an objective ideal method independent of human foibles, and if we could just describe its characteristics then everyone would have a template for doing proper science."

Just as politicians, who have never produced a product or performed a medical procedure, believe they should determine how business is done and what good medical practices are, philosophers, who have never made a single scientific discover or produced a technological improvement are certain they know how those things should be done. While scientists are actually accomplishing scientific discoveries and engineers are using those scientific principles to produce technological wonders (which happen to be the proof of the science--see list) philosophers are twiddling their mental thumbs inventing some kind of abstruse template of how science is to be done.

Here's a list of just a few of science and technology's twentieth century accomplishments without a philosopher's template:

1900 Quantum theory proposed / Planck
1901 Discovery of human blood groups / Landsteiner
1905 Wave-particle duality of light / Einstein
1905 Special theory of relativity / Einstein
1906 Existence of vitamins / Hopkins
1911 Discovery of the atomic nucleus / Rutherford
1911 Superconductivity discovered / Onnes
1912 Discovery of cosmic rays / Hess
1915 General theory of relativity / Einstein
1921 Isolation of insulin / Banting & Best
1923 Nature of galaxies discovered / Hubble
1928 Discovery of penicillin / Fleming
1930s Theory of chemical bonds developed / Pauling
1932 Discovery of the neutron / Chadwick
1932 Discovery of the positron, first antimatter particle / Anderson
1939 Discovery of nuclear fission / Meitner & Frisch
1944 Evidence in bacteria that DNA / Avery, MacLeod, and McCarty
1946 Initial elucidation of the reactions in photosynthesis / Calvin
1947 Invention of the transistor / Shockley, Bardeen, and Brattain
1956 Discovery of the neutrino / Cowan & Reines

If philosophers truly want to know how science ought to be done, perhaps they should examine how those who are actually successfully doing science do it. The one thing they would discover is that there is not one basic template, one plan, one, "paradigm," for performing scientific research. The "right method" is determined by the physical phenomena, entities, events, qualities, or relationships being studied.

Philosopher's Anti-science

After a brief description of logical positivists versus Karl Popper, Bouwman writes:

"One major problem—which in fairness the logical positivists were well aware of—is that no amount of empirical evidence (or logic) can prove a scientific claim. The classic example is that a million white swans do not prove that every swan is white. Popper's innovation was to point out that it only takes one black swan to prove that the proposition 'all swans are white' is false. So the evidence could show you either what was only likely to be true, or what was definitely false. Therefore, as an endeavour seeking certainty, science should commit itself to trying to prove its own theories wrong. This is Popper's principle of falsification."

Whenever I read something like, "no amount of empirical evidence (or logic) can prove a scientific claim," I have to wonder if the writer knows anything at all about science. Does he believe the circulation of the blood is still in doubt, that anesthesia might not work, that wireless communication is not certainly possible, that geostationary communication satellites are only a hypothesis, or that science is still waiting for more evidence that lased light is possible?

I'm not sure what prompts philosophers to embrace extreme skepticism about science, unless it is their experience with their own discipline, about which I am extremely skeptical myself. I do know all the arguments for such doubt are spurious.

Popper's absurd argument, "... that it only takes one black swan to prove that the proposition 'all swans are white' is false," is wrong ontologically and epistemologically. Ontologically there are only individual entities. There is no ontological "swanness." There are no ontological essences.

"Swan," is only a word which represents a concept. A concept is an identification of an existent (if it is a particular concept) or a class or category of existents (if it is a universal concept). What existents a concept identifies is specified by the concept's definition. The definition of the concept swan might be, "large white water birds with graceful necks."

If that is the definition, the proposition, 'all swans are white,' is true. If another bird is discovered with all the same attributes as swans, except for color, it is not a black swan, because swans by definition are white. The proposition, 'all swans are white,' is still true.

If the black birds are similar to swans in all other ways, one can either change the definition of swans to include black ones, or create an new concept for the black birds.

There is no epistemological or ontological principle that dictates how words must be defined. Epistemologically, the definition that best identifies existents and their relationships will be the most useful, but there is no authority determining that.

There is another wrong assumption implied by Popper's mistake which is that science proceeds by means of "induction." It does not. Nothing is established on the basis of how many similar observations are made. A frequent observation might be the basis for further research, but scientific principles are established by the identification of the nature of existents, their attributes (qualities), behavior, and relationships. It would required the observation of only one swan to form the concept that identifies swans, which would be defined in terms of the attributes of that single swan. The concept would be valid if it were the only swan ever observed, or if it were only one of an indefinite number of additional observed swans. They would all be swans because they would have the same attributes, and therefore the same definition.

There is one more even worse issue, "falsification." There is hardly any idea that could be more ignorant or destructive of science than the one that says, "science should commit itself to trying to prove its own theories wrong." If that were true, scientists should be busy proving blood does not circulate, that anesthesia does not work, that wireless communication is impossible, that geostationary satellites have all fallen down and there is no such thing as lasers. The absurdity is obvious.

There is one case where the idea of falsification is useful and that pertains to hypotheses. No hypothesis is a legitimate hypothesis if there is no way to prove it false, if it is false. If there is no way to prove a hypothesis false, if it is, just anything can be put forth as a hypothesis, from miracles to little green men.

What most people do not realize is that falsification is actually a way of proving a hypothesis is true. Since there must be a way to test a hypothesis to determine if it is false, if it is, when the test is performed, if it fails to prove the hypothesis is false, it proves the hypothesis is true, because if it were false, the test would succeed in proving it. Most scientist will understand that. Apparently most philosophers do not.

uwot
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Re: How does science work?

Post by uwot » Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:03 pm

RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:49 pm
Just as politicians, who have never produced a product or performed a medical procedure, believe they should determine how business is done and what good medical practices are, philosophers, who have never made a single scientific discover or produced a technological improvement are certain they know how those things should be done.
Indeed. And thanks to Kuhn, very few philosophers now try and tell scientists what to do. The ones that do are quite rightly ignored. As the article which is the subject of this thread concludes: "Whatever anyone thinks should or shouldn’t qualify as science, the fact is that science is done by people. Some of those people are rationalists, some are empiricists, and some are pragmatists; and no matter what rules are imposed, people break them."
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:49 pm
The one thing they would discover is that there is not one basic template, one plan, one, "paradigm," for performing scientific research. The "right method" is determined by the physical phenomena, entities, events, qualities, or relationships being studied.
Well yeah, that's the nature of empiricism and its hardcore cousin instrumentalism.
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:49 pm
Whenever I read something like, "no amount of empirical evidence (or logic) can prove a scientific claim," I have to wonder if the writer knows anything at all about science. Does he believe the circulation of the blood is still in doubt, that anesthesia might not work, that wireless communication is not certainly possible, that geostationary communication satellites are only a hypothesis, or that science is still waiting for more evidence that lased light is possible?
None of those things are in question, it's more along the lines of: 'Is spacetime a vacuum, as posited by special relativity, or a medium with mechanical properties, as posited by general relativity?'
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:49 pm
I'm not sure what prompts philosophers to embrace extreme skepticism about science...
Can you cite any philosopher of science that does so?
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:49 pm
There is another wrong assumption implied by Popper's mistake which is that science proceeds by means of "induction." It does not.
Well Popper's claim was that science proceeds by demolishing theories, rather than adding to the body of evidence supporting it. In this respect, the difference between Popper and Kuhn was that Popper was insisting that hypotheses should be actively challenged. Kuhn's point was that it happens anyway.
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:49 pm
What most people do not realize is that falsification is actually a way of proving a hypothesis is true. Since there must be a way to test a hypothesis to determine if it is false, if it is, when the test is performed, if it fails to prove the hypothesis is false, it proves the hypothesis is true, because if it were false, the test would succeed in proving it. Most scientist will understand that. Apparently most philosophers do not.
This simply isn't true. Any competent scientist or philosopher knows perfectly well that a single null experiment proves the antithetical hypothesis.

Skepdick
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Re: How does science work?

Post by Skepdick » Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:07 pm

If the concept of a set has constructive properties such that we have sets of sets, does the concept of a "paradigm" lend itself to constructing paradigms of paradigms?

It does...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programming_paradigm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compariso ... _languages

Philosophy is so far behind the curve.

Skepdick
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Re: How does science work?

Post by Skepdick » Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:08 pm

uwot wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:03 pm
This simply isn't true. Any competent scientist or philosopher knows perfectly well that a single null experiment proves the antithetical hypothesis.
Uh. No. You may testing only 2 hypotheses in practice, but there is always a 3rd one to be considered - your experiment is flawed and your observation is inadmissible as evidence for the null-hypothesis because design/equipment/human error/other...

https://xkcd.com/1132/

uwot
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Re: How does science work?

Post by uwot » Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:14 pm

Skepdick wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:08 pm
uwot wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:03 pm
This simply isn't true. Any competent scientist or philosopher knows perfectly well that a single null experiment proves the antithetical hypothesis.
Uh. No. You may testing only 2 hypotheses in practice, but there is always a 3rd one to be considered - your experiment is flawed because design/equipment/human error/other...

https://xkcd.com/1132/
Yup, that's a typo. Try this: Any competent scientist or philosopher knows perfectly well that a single null experiment doesn't prove the antithetical hypothesis.

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RCSaunders
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Re: How does science work?

Post by RCSaunders » Sat Jul 20, 2019 7:05 pm

uwot wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:03 pm
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:49 pm
What most people do not realize is that falsification is actually a way of proving a hypothesis is true. Since there must be a way to test a hypothesis to determine if it is false, if it is, when the test is performed, if it fails to prove the hypothesis is false, it proves the hypothesis is true, because if it were false, the test would succeed in proving it. Most scientist will understand that. Apparently most philosophers do not.
This simply isn't true. Any competent scientist or philosopher knows perfectly well that a single null experiment proves the antithetical hypothesis.
There is nothing about a "single null experiment." It says, "a way to test a hypothesis to determine it is false, if it is," and means whatever that test might be, one or a hundred experiments, measurements, etc. It must be a test that will absolutely prove the hypothesis false, if it is. If something could prove something false, if it is false, and it fails to prove that thing false (but would if the thing were false), .... I think you'll understand the necessary conclusion.

The hypothesis is, "the bridge is safe enough to drive over." The test for the falseness of this hypothesis is to drive over the bridge. When the test is performed, the collapse of the bridge and car plunging into the ravine proves the hypothesis is false. If the bridge did not collapse and the car safely drove to the other side, (the test for falseness failed), the hypothesis is proved true.

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