What is Science?

Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 1 year, 3 months ago to Science
119 comments | Share | Best of... | Flag

What is science? I do not mean just the dictionary definition, though perhaps we need to start with something commonly accepted like that in order to understand more fully what science is.

(This came up in the discussion of "Ego Depletion." My comments here were too long and involved for that. So, I offer this as a new topic.)

A few years ago, before going under the knife at a university research and teaching hospital, I signed an agreement that I understood that medicine is an art, not a science, and that outcomes are not predictable. Maybe that is why the German word for medical doctor is "der Arzt." But medical practice certainly depends on science, does it not? And they do have medical research, which we hope is practiced as a science, rather than an art like ballet or ceramics.

(Granted that art has a lot of science in it: chemistry of pigments, physics of firing, anatomy, botany... it is all there if you care to know. Does "the science of painting" make sense?)

In this discussion, blarman, WilliamShipley, and lucky differentiated engineering from science. We commonly accept the generalization that scientists discover basic laws; and engineers apply those to the creation of new products; and technicians maintain those creations. That is how things are today. History provides a different model.

The steam engine came before thermodynamics. The telegraph and telephone antedated Maxwell's Equations. Luther Burbank died 20 years before DNA was announced. Similarly, William Smith, who predicted and found the presence of coal by the fossil record of England, died 20 years before The Origin of Species (-- http://necessaryfacts.blogspot.com/20....

Inventions are largely the improvements of technicians, not the direct applications of theories to new practices.

Computer science may not yet be a science, but the summary work we are doing now will be generalized into new theoretical models.

In William Gibson's "Bridge Trilogy" set in the immediate future, some of the viewpoint characters are artists in a beach house, majoring in Media Science at UC Berkeley. It is not a science yet...

But, what, then is a science?

I look at the practice. If a pursuit consciously chooses the scientific method, then it is a science.

We all know the basic Scientific Method:
1. Observe some aspect of the universe.
2. Invent a tentative description, called a hypothesis, that is consistent with what you have observed.
3. Use the hypothesis to make predictions.
4. Test those predictions by experiments or further observations and modify the hypothesis in the light of your results.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no discrepancies between theory and experiment and/or observation.
http://physics.ucr.edu/~wudka/Physics...

Norman Edmund (1916-2012), founder of Edmund Scientific - and who has not been a customer? - taught a 14-step process.
http://www.scientificmethod.com/index...
Steps or Stages of the Scientific Method
  
1. Curious Observation
2. Is There a Problem?
3. Goals & Planning
4. Search, Explore, & Gather the Evidence
5. Generate Creative & Logical Alternative Solutions
6. Evaluate the Evidence
7. Make the Educated Guess (Hypothesis)
8. Challenge the Hypothesis
9. Reach a Conclusion
10. Suspend Judgment
11.Take Action

Supporting Ingredients
12. Creative, Non-Logical, Logical & Technical Methods
13. Procedural Principals & Theories
14. Attributes & Thinking Skills
http://www.scientificmethod.com/index...

The way I learned it - five steps, seven, or more - publishing your findings is always the last step. That can mean just recording this in your notebook, if the results are intermediary. But in any case, you must finalize the process by making it possible for others to replicate the work.

That was perhaps the essential truth that separated chemistry from alchemy in Robert Boyle's Sceptical Chymist (1661). Boyle argued for open disclosure of means and methods. That openness - your own open mind open to the minds of others - may be the sine qua non of science. It also speaks to the tension of science in the context of national security. That is nothing new. Projective geometry was held as a French military secret. Can anything secret be a science?


Add Comment

FORMATTING HELP

All Comments Hide marked as read Mark all as read

  • Posted by  $  jlc 1 year, 3 months ago
    Science is an attempt to discover an aspect of reality. What most people on this list are discussing is scientific procedures, scientific postulates, and scientific parameters, not science itself. I do not dispute that the scientific process is handy, but it is 'how' science is done, not 'what' science is.

    I generally agree with ProfChuck, but I will disagree on some of his corner cases in this instance: Newton's Laws of Motion are valid within the parameter of 'what is observable by human senses' but they do not apply cosmologically nor at atomic scale. Nonetheless, they are valid - within the stated constraints. A scientific principle does not have to apply everywhere in the universe (ie in a black hole) in order for it to be valid.

    It is not necessary that science be useful or published or peer-reviewed; these are procedural aspects of science, not 'the discovery of reality' per se. (It is, however, necessary that a postulate be disprovable, per SBilko.) It is also not necessary for science to precede technology/engineering. It was the development of glass lenses that allowed both Astronomy and Microbiology to exist - the technology preceded the science.

    Jan
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
      A science is an organized body of knowledge about some general aspect of reality. Like any knowledge it must be conceptual, objective, non-contradictory, and rationally obtained and formulated. It is not a matter of just data processing. Scientific principles, like others, are contextual and of finite accuracy, they are not omniscience, including alleged infinite precision.

      The nature and methods of any science depend on the subject matter. The methods and procedure of the sciences of mathematics, epistemology, ethics, grammar, geology, evolution, astronomy, psychology, etc. are not the same as those of physics, and no one science should be copied for the others.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
      I have to insist: publication is necessary to science. If you do to record what you are doing, you just amusing yourself. You have to be able to replicate your own work. I agree that you might seek to keep it secret from others. You might submit your work and have it rejected. However:
      (1) you still have to record what you are doing and have done.
      and
      (2) even if the work is rejected, the submission itself is according to the necessary process.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
        Scientific research, like any productive activity, requires some concrete form of observation and conclusion. It does not require publication and whatever the concrete form it does not require aiming at publication for a motive. If no one else ever hears of it either through publication or private circulation it is lost to others, but still research.
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
          Yes, the scientific method is the same as Objectivism. A successful working scientist who goes to church because he does not want to offend his family is not being consistent. Alone on his island, Robinson Crusoe survived by the scientific method, whether anyone knew about it or not. Those examples do not address the formal pursuit of Science by the Scientific Method.

          "Publication" can be limited to your own notebook. If you do not keep one, you are not doing science. You are just living a rational life of interested curiosity about the world.

          The informal life of interested curiosity also does not require any kind of an experiment. You could just look around you and ask questions and seek consistent answers without ever testing one, not even with an independent observation. In Anthem Equality 7-2521 could recreate the electrical lightbulb from the existing materials, but he says at the end that he does not know what the stars are. He may never know. He still led a life of rational-empirical (objective) enquiry, even though no science of astronomy existed at that moment.
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
            Publication is not a requirement.
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
            • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
              "It is a sin to write this." If you do not record your thoughts, then you are not civilized. Numeracy led to literacy. Literacy led to the creation of self-awareness. It is the very same psychological and epistemological revolution socially that is reflected in the fact that you do not need to be thinking in order to choose to think.
              Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
      That does not answer the question. You say, "Science is an attempt to discover an aspect of reality." How is the Tarot Deck not that?

      Newton's Laws of Motion fail within our own solar system: the three body problem cannot be solved with Newtonian Mechanics. The Earth-Moon-Sun, the many moons of Jupiter, the Rings of Saturn (Jupiter, Uranus), cannot be understood with Newton's Laws alone. (Moreover, there is no one "Three Body Problem" but several restricted cases, like the Sun-Earth-Moon where two bodies are much larger than the third. And in addition, there is no "Four Body Problem." We have no way to apply Newtonian mechanics to the Rings of Saturn. It needs a different theory.

      But the problem is not Newton. Take Darwinian evolution. I question whether it meets the definition of science. No experiments were proposed or are carried out. Scientists have bombarded all manner of species with radiation and not produced a new one. Yet, the "species" of bears of North America -- brown bear, Kodiak, and Polar Bear- and inter-breedable.

      I am not asking about this "science" or that, but asking you what you mean by "an attempt to discover an aspect of reality." Not just any "attempt" can be a science, can it?
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by  $  jlc 1 year, 3 months ago
        Many rigorous experiments have been carried out on Darwinian evolution: bacteria, fruit flies, mice, foxes. There is no lack of hard data on Darwinian evolution. Here is a wiki overview article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experim...

        It seems to me that, reading the responses on this thread, people are going far into the topic 'how you do good science' and not 'what is science'. A good example of this is 'publication': Publication has nothing to do with whether or not you have rigorously examined the nature of reality and discovered a new facet of it - it just determines if you communicate this. (Of course, no one else can test your discovery or build on it if you do not communicate it, but that is part of the process of science not the discovery itself.) I agree with most of what is said about how to do good science, btw, but do not want to drop the concept of discovery per se.

        My mind also boggles at an attempt to figure out how a Tarot Deck could be used to discover reality (except perhaps as a generator of statistics) but, again, I am trying to distinguish between the process of doing good science (how) and the essence of science (what). If someone brighter than I can figure out how to use a Tarot Deck to do science, I will be willing to include that as a valid tool...but it makes my brain leak out of my ears to think of how to accomplish that.

        Jan
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
          Darwinian evolution is about the origin of species. We agree on that much. However, none of your examples actually shows the origin of a new species. (Neither did Darwin, actually.) The essential distinguishing feature is that species of the same genus cannot interbreed to produce fertile offspring. Nothing in that article about chihuahuas and Great Danes, stickleback fish, or aerobic mice had anything to do with that.

          All it showed was the initial assumption of Darwin - which no one ever denied - that living things adapt to their environments (or not) and those that do reproduce more of their kind. So, Eskimos are short and round and Watusi are tall and thin and Finns are very lightly pigmented. As far as we know, people from pole to pole interbreed all very well.

          Darwin's consequent assumption - which has never been shown - is that successive generations of adaptation by members of one species creates new species.

          The easy inference - denied as "ignorance" - is that once there was only some generic mammal (CLASS), and by selective adaptation ORDERS were created. And the Orders adapted to their changing environments and their descendants were the FAMILIES. Success generations of families adapted to their many different environments and became GENUSSES (genii). And now, we have species.

          But that is not how it works at all. Dinosaurs had genii and species. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes. Other great apes have 24 pairs. How did that come about? What were our common ancestors and how did we get 23 pairs of chromosomes? It is truly a chicken-and-egg problem.

          And the genus homo gave rise to homo erectus and homo habilis and homo neanderthalis and homo sapiens. However, we know that homo neanderthal was really just a breed or strain of homo sapiens because their DNA is found among modern humans, showing that fertile offspring were possible.
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
          I offered the Tarot Deck because your statement, "Science is an attempt to discover an aspect of reality." So is a Tarot Deck. The practitioners are not looking to discover an aspect of unreality - at least they do not think that they are… My point is that you have not offered a standard by which to know that the Tarot Deck is not. In fact, when Mendeleev was looking for the Periodic Table, he had a deck of cards with basic facts on the them, and he played "solitaire" (he called it by its British name, "patience").

          How do you know which attempt is "really" science?
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by SBilko 1 year, 3 months ago
    Science is a method for discovering the truth about the universe - no more and no less. Endeavors that do not follow that method are not science, nor are things that are not empirically testable by their very nature - Intelligent Design is a good example. Another hallmark of science is the willingness to re-evaluate or change a theory based on new evidence. That is why statements such as "the science is settled" in regard to climate change really bother me.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by ProfChuck 1 year, 3 months ago
      Most scientists realize that science is never "settled". The idea that climate change science is settled is utter nonsense. Our understanding of physical reality is in a state of constant flux. Scientific theories can be relied upon to be incomplete. That does not necessarily mean they are wrong just that they don't tell the whole story. Copernican cosmology, Newtonian dynamics, Einstein's relativity are all recognized as incomplete even in most cases by their creators. However, I have a minor quibble with the notion that science is a search for "truth". My difficulty is probably semantic but because we have never been able to understand something completely the concept of truth is fraught with difficulties and is a largely metaphysical idea. As a scientist I have always regarded my profession as a search for understanding. For example, I have at least a partial understanding of how gravity behaves. This understanding is good enough that I can design a navigation process that guides flight from one planet to another. Does that mean I know the "truth" about gravity? I don't think so. I just understand a little about how it works. I have used this analogy before. Someone once asked me if I "believed" that two plus two makes four. My response was "No." But because I understand the circumstances under which two plus two makes four I can use that understanding to employ mathematics as a tool. Unfortunately, Understanding is a lot easier than believing. But sometimes people think it's the other way around.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
        ProfChuck, it would be interesting to me, for one, to learn how you came to be here. Your statement above is diametrically opposed to even small-o objectivism. Capital O-Objectivists will put you in the same camp as the political progressives and academic post-modernists.

        I assume that you at least saw the movie version of Atlas Shrugged. Have you read the book?

        Because your statement above was open and honest, I will not give it a Thumbs Down. It at least engenders discussion.
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by ProfChuck 1 year, 3 months ago
          I have read AS three times; when it first came out, then again about 20 years ago, and finally about 3 months ago. I have AS I, II, and III the movies and have read everything written by Ayn Rand that I have been able to find including some of her more obscure short stories and essays. As far as my statement being diametrically opposed to objectivism I don't understand what you mean. As a scientist I tend to be very pragmatic. By this I mean that learning what things do and how things work is a useful goal and modern technology is testimony to the efficacy of that approach. Knowing what things are, however, is an entirely different matter. For example, we have fairly comprehensive knowledge of what electrons do. This knowledge provides the ability to design and construct systems of enormous complexity and these systems usually work. However, if someone asks me what an electron IS I would have to say I don't have a clue. We can talk about quarks and mesons, and gluons, positrons, muons, neutrinos and the like but these are just names we give to particles whose existence we can only observe by inference. No one has ever seen a subatomic particle. None the less we are reasonably confident that they exist. We make observations of the artifacts that these particles leave behind such as trails in a cloud chamber or flashes of light in a scintillation crystal but the particles themselves have never been directly observed. The problem appears to be that underlying reality is more complex than any of our theories and may even be more complex than any finite theory CAN be. Our understanding of the behavior of reality can be viewed as a sub set of that reality. It is not complete but it is good enough that we can use it. An important part of science is to expand that knowledge fully realizing that complete understanding may never be possible.
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
            Rather than continue to talk about you as if you were not here, let me ask: where are you ethically and politically? We have very, very many discussions here about politics, mostly because the vast majority here are not students of Objectivism, but only political conservatives who are distressed about current events.

            In fact, an objective political science suggests solutions. As you can see here, though, many deny the validity of political science, which makes it hard to achieve progress in that area. My favorite example was Commander Denniston of Bletchley Park who believed the German ciphers to be unbreakable. Hard to achieve success with that assumption…
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
            • Posted by ProfChuck 1 year, 3 months ago
              Politically I am a capitalist, assuming that can be considered a political orientation. Capitalism has a history of providing the greatest good for the greatest number and rewards incentive and effort. Ethically I am an individual and an individualist. I have followed Ayn Rand since the early 50's and find in her thinking much of value, mainly because her thinking parallels mine in many ways. Her recognition of the importance and sanctity of the individual and her strong adherence to the principals of a capitalistic economy are consistent with my view of the word. Also I agree with her disdain for what we call "Crony capitalism" where the system is corrupted by political influence and "pull".
              However, there are areas where her views and mine diverge. As I understand the interpretation of her philosophy an objectivist society will be dominated by "heroes". Typically, heroes are type A personalities and it is not clear that such a society can be dynamically stable. A successful society will include people from all walks of life and with a broad range of capabilities and talents. We need trash collectors at least as much as we need scientists. If you consider the spectrum of individual types in Huxley's "Brave New World" we see everything from Alpha double pluses to the Epsilon minus. Each with a vital roll in society. In BNW this structure was created and enforced by the state but in the real world this structure exists naturally and again each strata forms an important and essential part of the social body. We probably need plumbers and machinists at least as much as we need politicians and philosophers.
              I have probably missed it but I fail to see how Objectivism as a political philosophy accommodates this reality.
              However, my greatest concern is that Objectivism could easily become a kind of secular religion. A religion complete with sinners and saints, heretics and blasphemers, true believers and skeptics. All led by the prophet Ayn Rand. A position that Rand would probably find disgusting.
              Like any religion there are those that "believe" in Objectivism. However, belief flies in the face of objectivity. When you believe something you have shut the door to further enlightenment. "Belief" in Objectivism is a contradiction.
              I would like your thoughts on that.
              Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
              • Posted by ewv 1 year, 2 months ago
                You should read what Ayn Rand actually thought a free society should be. It isn't dominated by anyone, let alone "type A personalities" making it "unstable". But that is already apparent in Atlas Shrugged.
                Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
              • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
                I agree with a lot of that. Most of it we should discuss under other rubrics. I must insist that "greatest good for the greatest number" is not at all a proper justification for capitalism. But, again, that is not a subject for "Science" here and now. Similarly, "Objectivism as a religion" has been discussed before, and a different heading would be appropriate. I was just curious about your cultural context and your participation here. You are as obviously a scientist as you are not an Objectivist.
                Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
                • Posted by ProfChuck 1 year, 3 months ago
                  RE. "you are not an Objectivist." I guess that's true, It would appear that I don't know what an Objectivist is.
                  Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
                  • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
                    Well, it is not like a certificate you can earn. The thing is, though, that you said that you were familiar with the works of Ayn Rand, including some of those less well known.

                    Rand sought to develop an integrated philosophical system. And she explained much in addition through essays, lectures, and Q&As. For her, the only basis for capitalism was the right of the individual to live their own life by their own standards. But those standards could not be arbitrary. You do have the political right to be an idiot. Objectivism is more than that. The question of standards is highly important. It was addressed in "The Objectivist Ethics" as well as in essays such as "Isn't Everyone Selfish?" and "How do you live a Rational Life in an Irrational Society?" and "Counterfeit Individualism."

                    Pragmatism has no place in Objectivism, either as epistemology or politics. It is demanded by logic and known to history that if you begin with epistemological pragmatism - range of the moment, context-free thinking - then you end up with political pragmatism - people in concentration camps. I am not kidding or exaggerating. Ask any American who is ethnically Japanese about the "pragmatic" solution to the "problem" of immigrants here from a country with which the USA is suddenly at war. Then, think about Donald Trump and Muslims.

                    This has a direct bearing on science and how it is practiced. To ewv and other Objectivists, a pragmatic approach to science leads directly to pseudo-science, research fraud, and scientific misconduct because they perform "experiments" and gather "data" that have no conceptual basis in reality.

                    I am sure that you are a nice guy and all, and you seem to have enjoyed a long and productive career in science. But in this case, you are kind of like those people who do not know the difference between speed and velocity.

                    And, largely, allowing for technical errors like that, I am pretty much in accord with what you have written. Just saying'…
                    Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
            Your statements endorsing Pragmatism, confusing knowledge of something with how it is measured in the manner of Positivists, inability to "have a clue" let alone know what something is because you are not omniscient, and confusing knowledge of reality with a "subset" of it, are all diametrically opposed to Objectivism.
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
            • Posted by ProfChuck 1 year, 3 months ago
              I don't "have a clue" as to what an electron really IS. I do know that under some circumstances it is appropriate to view it as a particle and under others as a wave but these are perspectives of convenience not identity. When designing a cathode ray tube the particle view is useful and the wave view leads to unnecessary complications. However, when considering the roll played by electrons in the valence shell structure of atoms only the wave perspective produces usable results. The reality is that the electron is neither a wave or a particle but something else entirely. We don't even know if it is a fundamental particle or if it is composed of something smaller like some sort of quark like semi particle. We have a pretty good idea of what electrons do but as to what they "are", that remains a mystery.
              Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
              • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
                ewv insists that just because you do not know everything about it does not mean that you do not know what it "is." I am not going to paraphrase her. She writes well enough for all to read.

                I understand and accept her explanation.

                That said, we have many examples of scientists working with entities and their processes long before anyone knew what they "were." Luther Burbank died 20 years before Crick and Watson published. I mentioned William Smith who read the fossil record of England before 1800. While more always remains to be discovered, relative to them, we know what inheritance "is" and we know what evolution "is". I grant that reputable physicists such as Richard P. Feynman suggested that we do not know what an electron "is" yet.

                I do not know what the essential demarcation is, where the bright line is drawn, but as we gather more information, test more hypotheses, invent more objects and processes, we gain a fundamental understanding of what we are studying. We know what the Moon "is"; cancer, not so much…
                Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
            • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
              And yet, he has read AS three times and much else as well and the Professor apparently works or worked in a scientific endeavor. You might say that we can lead a horse to water and all that. It is the same problem that Christians face in their own cruelties. I am not speaking of the impossibility of altruism, I am just referring to the simple fact that they cannot even be nice to each other, no turning of the other cheek, loving their enemies, or forgiving of trespasses. And, here, too, we have someone who seems fully cognizant of Objectivism and yet whom you - and I (see my comment) - find "diametrically opposed to Objectivism."

              Meanwhile, we want to convert the whole world by getting them to watch a movie.
              Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
            Thanks. I also have a pretty good Ayn Rand library including the January 1944 Reader's Digest with her essay "The Only Path to Tomorrow." It is just that you do not write in the same vocabulary as the rest of us. You write like a mainstream person. That said, I recognize that much of what I write here is also not always Objectivist creole. For that, look to ewv, who I suspect is really Leonard Peikoff. She has her Objectivism very well integrated. I actually look to her for clear statements of Objectivism where most others will substitute personal viewpoints for canon. I keep to canon, but I write in my own voice.
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
            • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
              He writes in a thoroughly conventional way diametrically opposed to Objectivism because he believes conventional modern philosophy. It's deeper than vocabulary.

              As for your personal suspects about me: no.
              Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
              • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
                It is not just that he "believes" conventional modern philosophy. He never deeply questioned it by integrating what he read of Objectivism into the deeper foundations of philosophy. He probably would respect your rights.

                (I do not know why, but our society has a folkway or maybe a taboo against speaking about someone in the third person while they are present. Because I do not know why, I tend to do it more often than most other people around me.)

                (And I really do believe that Dr. Peikoff has better things to do with his time. It was a quip, actually a doff of the hat.)
                Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
      Yes, but what is that method? I cited three good examples of the Scientific Method and none of them had Publish as the last step. And that was how I learned it. But, I ask you: What is that "method for discovering the truth about the universe?"

      (Have you read David Harriman's The Logical Leap? It is a basic book for Objectivists who are interested in the philosophy of science.)
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by ProfChuck 1 year, 3 months ago
    What we call "Modern Science" is based on a few fundamental assumptions; An underlying reality exists, this reality is stable and does not change over time or with various observer locations, and it is possible to learn about this reality by observation and a reasoned analysis of what has been observed. If these assumptions are not true then science cannot function. there is a concept called the "Cosmological Principal".

    Astronomer William Keel explains:

    The cosmological principle is usually stated formally as 'Viewed on a sufficiently large scale, the properties of the universe are the same for all observers.' This amounts to the strongly philosophical statement that the part of the universe which we can see is a fair sample, and that the same physical laws apply throughout. In essence, this in a sense says that the universe is knowable and is playing fair with scientists.

    The implications of this are significant and illustrate the roll objectivity and reason play in understanding the universe.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
      The fundamental facts of existence with a specific nature, i.e., identity, and that our consciousness is aware of existence and does not create it, are axiomatic, not assumptions. It does not "amount to" a "fair sample" and existence "playing fair".

      Without a basic epistemology and metaphysics recognizing the basic nature of reality, observation and conceptual thinking would not be possible at all, let alone advanced science. It is up to us to discover and conceptualize what we need from what we are aware of, recognizing that things do change in accordance with their nature, in order to logically formulate and validate scientific, contextual principles in accordance with non-contradiction. It isn't a game with tentative metaphysical "assumptions".
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by ProfChuck 1 year, 3 months ago
        The cosmological principal simply states that the laws of physics, both the ones we know and those yet to be discovered, are uniform and consistent throughout the cosmos. The notion of " the universe playing fair" is a philosophical interpretation of that assumption and while poetic it is not strictly scientific. The cosmological principal has survived every test we have been able to perform. Observation of the spectra of distant stars reveals that our understanding of atomic transitions is consistent with emission and absorption lines seen both in our own sun and in stars located in a galaxy that is millions of light years distant. The orbital behavior of the planets and their satellites is consistent with Newtonian dynamics and appears to follow the same "rules" everywhere we look. Ergo, the cosmological principal is strengthened. Does that mean that the consistent behavior of the universe is the result of some act of conscious volition on the part of the cosmos at large? No! It just means that the concept bears a useful and, so far, a consistent relationship to reality.
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
          You did not address what I wrote about your first post. If it's supposed to be 'only' philosophy it's very bad philosophy.

          "The universe playing fair" makes no sense no matter how you try to stretch it.

          Principles that apply to different entities in different places when they are the same kind of entity. If some planet somewhere else behaved differently it would be because it is a different kind of entity. That is no great mystery and does not require an "assumption" of a "cosmological principle".

          Concepts do not bear an only "useful" and "so far" "consistent relationship to reality". Valid concepts are based on reality and are our way of grasping it through our hierarchy of knowledge.
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
            Thanks, again, for taking up the cudgel. The basic problem with arguing to find truth goes back to the ancient Greeks. The Sophists worked from the implicit assumption that if words have meaning and refer to objective entities, then the best argument is the truth (or closest to it). That, of course, led to a lot of arguing, and not much fact-finding.

            Myself, I believe that you cannot rationally argue someone out of an opinion that they were not rationally argued into in the first place. (I think that Heinlein said that.) I believe in "sense of life Objectivism." In other words, the works of Ayn Rand "resonate" with some people - 24 million or more, apparently - and many of them pursue philosophy deeper and more formally. Most people, especially adults, only accept what they agree with already and fail to integrate the rest.

            My perception is that those with the best understanding came to the philosophy of Objectivism as teens or young adults.

            As for the others, I try to look for agreements. I understand "the universe playing fair" as a sense of life statement. You certainly would have a lot more to say (or maybe nothing at all) to someone who claimed that science is hard work because the universe perniciously hides the truth from us and it is just our rotten luck that most of it is unknowable "dark matter."
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
          Not just the laws of physics, but all laws must be universal. Volitional creatures have rights.
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by ProfChuck 1 year, 3 months ago
            This sounds more like a statement about ethics than physics. Physical "laws" are statements about our understanding of some observable property of reality. The idea that volitional creatures have rights may be ethical but ethics is an invention not a discovery.
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
            • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
              The facts that necessitate ethics are that we must use our rational faculty to think and choose in order to live. A right is a moral sanction of freedom of action in a social context. All that is a lot more than "volition".

              Ethics as invention versus discovery is a false alternative. The science of ethics isn't an arbitrary invention, it is based on the nature of man and his requirements to live. Those requirements must be discovered, but ethical principles as such are not discovered as intrinsic to reality. Ethics is the objective formulation of principles required to live based on the facts of our nature. As always, the objective is distinguished from both the intrinsic and the subjective. Principles are identifications of facts of reality as formulated in our specific form of conceptual consciousness.
              Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
              • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
                A man in prison possess the faculty of volition. He has very little "freedom of action in a social context." He still has rights. (Which rights are appropriate is a different question and ultimately comes down to the right to life. We can explore objective criminology in another topic.) So, I begin with the statement that volitional creatures have rights: humans, but not horses; Vulcans, Klingons, Romulans, Ferengi,… but not ants, trout, dogs, or cats…. stones, rocks, planets, or stars...

                I also believe that you will get farther if you separate ethics from morality. Morality is fundamental to ethics. Robinson Crusoe needed morality. He did not need ethics until Friday came along. Ethics cannot contradict morality, but ethics is only social. Different rational species may have different ethics fully consistent with the same (objectively required) morality as ours.

                I many not understand the "implicit" but if the law of gravity is implicit to reality, then, so, too, does morality implicitly apply to every rational creature, each volitional entity, regardless of its physical construction, no less than an electron has charge.
                Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
                • Posted by ewv 1 year, 2 months ago
                  "Ethics" is not restricted to social interaction. But altruism causes a misconception by restricting its ethics (or morality) to relations with others, making sacrifice to others the standard for morality and ignoring all personal choices in one's own life as irrelevant to morality.
                  Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
            • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
              The morality of volition is as universal as the law of gravity, and, like the laws of mathematics, exists independent of the existence of such creatures. By analogy, the chemistry and physics of water do not depend on the actual existence of water. It is a "tree in the forest" - it does not matter who is there to "hear it fall." (And the Moon is still there when you look away.)
              Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
              • Posted by ProfChuck 1 year, 3 months ago
                "Morality of volition" is an interesting concept. To me it implies that there exists a system of universal ethics that like the law of gravity applies equally to all entities. From this we should be able to reconcile the morality of volition of warrior ants as they destroy other ant colonies with the actions of a Mother Teresa. That would seem to be a rather tall order. But that is why I chose physics over sociology. It's a lot simpler.
                Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
                • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
                  Warrior ants do not have volition. (At least the claim is easy to make. No one has asked them.) Only humans are volitional. That other such beings exist is highly likely. The laws that apply to us must apply to them. They may not have trial by jury, but if they are social creatures at all, they must have rights because rights are a requisite for social living. More deeply rights apply only to rational, volitional beings.

                  Myself, I differentiate ethics from morality. (Having gone around on that with my Objectivist comrades has been fruitless.) Morality is for the individual. On his island, Robinson Crusoe needed morality the same as he needed language: for his survival. Ethics are social. On a crowded city bus, should you give your seat to a pregnant woman? Morality exists like the laws of chemistry. Ethics depend on the specific, contextual nature of the beings and the natures of their societies. However, ethics cannot contradict morality because morality is (however you want to think of it) "higher" or "more basic." Morality is the foundation for ethics. Morality supersedes ethics.

                  By "morality of volition" I mean the fact that the presence of volition necessitates morality.
                  Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
        That was a good response. I accepted the "playing fair" as a statement about "sense of life" the expectation that while the universe might not care, neither is it pernicious.

        That attitude was a change, a cultural shift, attributable to the Greeks of archaic times transitioning into the Classical age. They no longer feared the gods.

        I agree with you that in what is intended as a formal discussion here, personifying the universe as an entity that "plays fair" is a nice artistic device, but does not make a clear statement connecting metaphysics and epistemology
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
          It doesn't make a clear statement about anything. When literally used to mean the distinction of gods behaving one way or another then it's worse.
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by dbhalling 1 year, 3 months ago
    Science is a specific philosophical approach to acquiring knowledge. I have written a short article laying out what I think is an appropriate philosophy of science. See http://hallingblog.com/2014/10/30/phi...

    Interestingly there is a ethics to science.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by  $  Zenphamy 1 year, 3 months ago
      Absolutely on the ethics. Politicians, socialists, economists, AGW, social engineers couldn't use pseudo or pretend science if ethics were properly understood and applied by scientist.

      I enjoyed and agree with the article. Real and honest science, even within the limits of the knowledge available at the time, has done more to improve the conditions of life for man than any other human activity.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
      Thanks, Dale. You have a couple of typographical errors.
      (1) " Einstein’s relativity did disprove Newton, it just refined and expanded on them at speeds near the speed of light and in regions of very large gravity. "
      You mean "did not disprove Newton…"
      and
      (2) GDP - gross domestic product for GPD.

      At the very top: "Note for the present discussion we will assume that A is an inanimate object." (Why? Why are living things not subject to what you propose are physical laws? What you say about living entities, is true of all objects. My computer is aging. Last year, my wife put new, bigger, memory chips in it. It is still the "same" computer, as I am still the "same" person. Your claims are easily challenged by baking a cake. I understand objective metaphysics. Your treatment - like David Harriman's Logical Leap - conflates the vernacular with the technical. It is not fatal. I just point out that as an "apologia" it will not convince someone who does not already agree with you.

      Your passing comment on pseudo-science and Keynesian counterfeiting is not quite clear. " In a pseudo science a new theory can come along and predict totally different results." Well, of course, that, too is science. New theories, if they are consistent with reality, will predict effects not yet anticipated by the old theories. Moreover, a Keynesian would point out the government money has the full faith of the government behind it, whereas counterfeit money, once detected loses its value. On the other hand, preach all you want about gold, people still take FRNs in preference to it. (Try it at any big box store.) I think that you have a fallacy of a stolen concept in there, "counterfeit." (I know the parable you refer to, from Milton Friedman: some counterfeiters come into town…" But, again, in particular, Friedman, as a monetist accepted that the value in government money is the full faith and credit of the issuing authority. Lacking that, even with gold and silver, we would be weighing every coin in every transaction.) I know what you meant to say. You just need a better example.

      And more…

      That is why I raised the issue here and offered the discussion. There's a lot to be said.

      And it needs to be said because I distrust what I perceive as an "Orwellian sin" of trying to reduce complex realities into shoutable slogans.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by dbhalling 1 year, 3 months ago
        Thanks for pointing out the typoos

        1) Yes science does apply to A being a living organism, however it results in an extra layer of complication. Is a tadpole a frog for instance. I did not want to have to explain these cases because I think it would have side tracked the conversation.

        2) Real sciences do not have new theories that completely overthrow (contradict) earlier theories, because real science is based on empirical evidence. A new theory cannot change the underlying empirical evidence.

        A real science would not say that inflation is good for the economy and bad for the economy that is a straight forward contradiction and cannot occur in a science. This would require the underlying empirical data to change.

        Elsewhere I have written on Hume and Carl Popper who are of historical significance to the philosophy of science, but the article was meant to layout the most important concepts not cover every aspect.

        Yes people should not make complex subjects more simple than they are (Libertarians non-aggression principle), however they also should not make things more complex than they are. (The common refrain of the left is that things are complex and therefore we have no knowledge)
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Comment hidden by post owner or admin, or due to low comment or member score. View Comment
        • Posted by  $  MichaelAarethun 1 year, 3 months ago
          That refrain has a purpose and that purpose is to enforce a state of self-delusion and reinforce their loyalty to the leftist collective entity by renouncing their own independence and ability to think or reason. The thinking and reasoning switch is in the off position whatever is put forth as the current party truth. The only independent action taken is - refuse to think, Do as told to do when told to do whatever it is.

          While we strive to recognize our ability and turn the thinking switch to the on position their goal is to padlock it shut with a welded key slot.

          Over or under simplification and your mentioning the non-aggression principle which is another way of saying Give Peace A Chance I'm finding have one common false premise. They fail to take into account some important feature of human nature.

          One can wish for 'peace' but then one can also wish for 'conflict' without the effort of stating how the balance is to be arrived at and maintained. Thus the delusion of inflation fails to recognize TANSTAAFL and turns a blind eye to those who must pay the bill.

          A leftist will just accept the party mantra. An Islamic would say It's God's Will. No problem with the pesky need for explanation..no need for thinking.

          And some will say I have to vote for evil ...I have not choice.

          They are correct. They choose to have no choice.
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Comment hidden by post owner or admin, or due to low comment or member score. View Comment
      • Posted by  $  MichaelAarethun 1 year, 3 months ago
        A true Keynesian would be faithful to all the tenets of Keynesian Economics including the one that says it will work as long as the interest can be paid.

        Those who deny or seek to find away around that one Keynesian truth are not Keynesian.

        Just as those who take an oath to the Constitution and immediately ask "Find me away around the Constitution" or 'the supreme court hasn't visited that particular portion yet.' are not Constitutional and their oath is a lie.
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by Watcher55 1 year, 3 months ago
    This might be of interest:
    http://www.monorealism.com/science/sc...
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
      Thanks for the link to Monorealism. It is a nice opening to a deeper discussion. For one thing, he writes: "I define science as a systematic, objective method of induction and deduction for discovering the nature of the world, by observing the facts of reality, generating theories to explain those facts, and testing those explanations via reproducible experiments and/or further observations. "Reproducible" means in principle repeatable with the same results by anyone with the requisite skill and equipment."

      And that is good. However, is it not true that truth can be verified with different equipment and skills? Being able to replicate an experiment is necessary, but not sufficient. It is not just following a recipe to get a cake. Observations with a spectroscope cannot contradict observations with a telescope or the naked eye. We explain the Doppler Effect of the Red Shift by analogies to fire engine sirens as they approach and leave. It has to be that way.

      As for different skills, take pocket billiards, for example. Someone who is not "skilled" as a physicist certainly validates Newtonian mechanics by playing the game. It could not be true that this only works in my lab with my equipment. It has to work for shooting pool, playing baseball, hat tricks in hockey, horses in dressage, and breaking up pavement with a jackhammer. The skills are all different, but they all work to validate the same claims.

      And the essence of Newton's theories is that the laws of the heavens are the same as the laws on Earth. That was the paradigm shift of Newtonian mechanics. Even though medieval astronomers could put the Sun at the center of the system, the assumption was still that life on Earth was different from the celestial spheres. And that speaks to the "mono realism" and the
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by Watcher55 1 year, 3 months ago
        Yes. Reproducibility does mean getting the same results in the same experiments, and if an experiment isn't reproducible then something is wrong (either an error, or unaccounted for factors). However that just pertains to the validity of the experiment: when it comes to the theory or idea the experiment is testing, the more independent ways it cam be addressed, the better!
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by Herb7734 1 year, 3 months ago
    I was always enamored by Einstein's thought experiments. What a great way to explore the universe. You start by visualization and then you go to "What if." Then you set about proving it. However, it did lead to turning everything we thought we knew about the universe upside down. Exciting, puzzling, challenging.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by ProfChuck 1 year, 3 months ago
      Einstein's greatest strength was his ability to recognize and ask the pivotal questions. Much of this he derived from his thought experiments. He acknowledged that while thought experiments rarely provide answers they do suggest important questions. His thought experiments regarding the equivalence principal provided many of the questions that led to general relativity. Thought experiments are a powerful tool.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by johnpe1 1 year, 3 months ago
    as an engineer, one of the most exciting things about
    science and its applications is the language used to
    freeze the knowledge for future use. . if our attempts
    to use language like math are to be successful, we
    must present scientific statements in enough ways
    to allow triangulation to a specific piece of understanding:::
    this is the reason that Galt's speech is so long. . he made
    enough statements about reality to allow the listener --
    well, the reader -- to "home in" on his real meaning.
    the "science" of knowing a person, for example, requires
    that you have multiple interactions. . I didn't know
    stress analysis in engineering before I had done a
    whole bunch of triangulating calculations. . prediction
    is difficult, but exciting and definitely possible! -- j
    .
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
      Galt's speech is the real meaning. It is long to provide the integration of many aspects, not to home in on something else.

      What do you mean by "triangulating" stress analysis calculations? You always have to identify and use essential features, determine sensitivity to relevant factors, and assess the accuracy of the results.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by johnpe1 1 year, 3 months ago
        ewv, I know you better by dint of having read more
        than just a few words from you. . after reading lots of
        word-products from you, I have an idea about how to
        understand what you mean. . words are not math,
        and it takes a whole bunch to allow what I called
        "triangulation" to get the real meaning. . stress
        analysis can involve bending, shear, tension, compression
        and many combinations of those. . by using more
        than just one formula, the engineer can home in on the
        very most likely failure zone, depending on the loads
        impressed on a material, a structure. . a good example
        is notch sensitivity. . the exact shape of a feature
        shaped like a notch, or dimple, or scratch, or impressed
        feature like a stamped ID number on a ford driveshaft,
        can raise stresses in extreme ways. . it's empirical
        knowledge which allows accuracy, and that requires
        testing to failure. . most engineers cannot afford that,
        so comparison of calculated results is required. . just like
        I compare your current words with those which I have
        seen in the past, to arrive at my best estimate of
        your current meaning. -- j
        .
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
          You haven't said what the term "triangulation" means in this context and why you use it.

          All the words have meaning. Using a bunch of them talking around something doesn't say what it is.

          What does systematically calculating and estimating potentially significant stresses to see what is important have to do with "triangulation", and what does that have to do with lots of words in Galt's speech to "home in" on a "real" meaning as if it were something else? Ayn Rand wrote what it really means.
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by johnpe1 1 year, 3 months ago
            everyone uses words uniquely. . knowing what you
            actually mean is a process of looking from different
            points-of-view in your conversations to learn more
            precisely what you really mean. . further, reading
            between the lines gives another context. . example:::
            I have come to think of you as a mature male, someone
            who has a dual background in philosophy and science,
            someone who probably grew up in one of the northern
            States and who has spent lots of time alone. . this
            estimation lets me look at what you say from the point-
            of-view which you might have when saying it. -- j
            .
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
            • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
              Reading the words for understanding of what they objectively say, and in this case ask, rather than speculating and psyching people out as you try to 'home in' on some hidden meaning is much better. I write what I really mean, and try to be precise.
              Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
              • Posted by johnpe1 1 year, 3 months ago
                as do I. . the problem is that words are not math,
                and even math is subject to conventional interpretation.
                words are imprecise, and that's why I speak of
                triangulation. -- j
                .
                Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
                • Posted by ewv 1 year, 2 months ago
                  You have to be careful reading anything to maintain the proper context and to investigate further if something isn't clear, but you still haven't explained what "triangulation" is.
                  Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
          Do you know the character of Ensign Hoshi Sato from Star Trek: Enterprise? In one scene, she is asked how many languages she knows and how she learns them all. She replied that she does not "know" any languages, but engages in pattern recognition. I spent many years learning German. I started before the 7th grade at a university summer school for kids, and continued through my junior year of college. Learning the "meaning" of words is one important task - der Tisch = the desk; but we learned idiomatic expressions as exceptions. Now, I believe that most language is idiomatic expression.

          in college, one of my German professors was a philologist. He ran down the list of theories for the origin of language, from onomatopoeia to "baby talk."

          I also give great weight to analogy.

          And then there is allusion. "Darmok at Tanagra, His arms open wide." I remember a political commentary titled, "Nixon Agonistes." Hollywood reporters called Hepburn "Katherine of Arrogant."
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by ArtIficiarius 1 year, 3 months ago
    Replication is a necessary facet of a scientific advance. Making predictions and seeking potential falsification (a negative validation of a prediction) is even more necessary (check out Karl R. Popper). Falsification is central as it represents essential learning; Newton could not determine the cause of the precession of the perihelion of Mercury,he also held that light travelled in a straight line (particle model). Einstein predicted the precession from general relativity. Eddington and Einstein predicted the gravitational bend in the path of light, a critical test. Eddington validated it in a replicatable way.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
      Newton's mechanics was not "falsified". Science is ever expanding knowledge, not a sequence of exploded fallacies. No principles are omniscient or have "infinite" precision -- there is no such thing. Science advances when more scope and precision become possible, adding to our knowledge through contextual principles.

      That Newton's law of gravitation could not account for 43 seconds of arc per century in the precession of the perihelion of the orbit of Mercury, after all the other perturbations were accounted for, does not mean that it is false. There is no such thing as infinite precision. Newton's principles of gravitation remain true and as accurate as they have always been, and is still used daily in science and engineering. Without them, Einstein's discovery of a more complex formulation accounting for more detail could not have been done.

      Any conceptual, meaningful quantitative principle can in principle be measured and will or will not hold within some context of precision. Popper adds nothing to that. His philosophy offers no theory of the conceptual nature of science, replacing it as a-conceptual statements of "predictions" of measurements subject to an impossible standard of precision and omniscience in the name of "falsifiability". No wonder people who follow this anti-conceptual standard wind up as skeptics claiming that every theory is a disconnected falsehood waiting to be contradicted and replaced.

      Meanwhile, Einstein's theory has had spectacular success -- to another finite degree of precision -- on a very limited number of cases, with little in the way of conceptual understanding or reason to distinguish it from competing theories. This lack of conceptual distinction is reason to regard it as tentative.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by ProfChuck 1 year, 3 months ago
        Nicely said. Einstein recognized that Newtonian dynamics was not incorrect but it was incomplete. Newton holds well enough that we can use its principals to navigate a spacecraft from one planet to another but when velocities become very large and matter becomes very dense Newtonian physics begins to loose accuracy. This is not because Newton was wrong but because at the boundaries of his theory there are forces and phenomena that play an increasingly significant roll. Newton was unaware of these simply because the discoveries of people like Faraday and Maxwell had not yet taken place. It is interesting to note that the Newtonian equation describing escape velocity; Ve=sqrt(2Gm/r), can be reformulated to the Schwarzchild equation that describes the event horizon of a non rotating black hole. Rs=2Gm/c^2.
        Does this mean that black holes were predicted by Newton? Probably not but his theory does allow for them.
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
          Newton's theory is based on concepts that do not include 'event horizons of black holes'. His theory not only did not predict them, it cannot be discussed in terms of it.
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by ProfChuck 1 year, 3 months ago
            I never said that Newton thought in terms of event horizons and it is likely that he never considered the ramifications of his escape velocity solution as inspired by Newtonian mechanics. However, the fact that the Schwarzchild equation is directly derivable from the Newtonian equation is inescapable and anyone familiar with first year algebra will see that. So what does that mean? It at least suggests that to the first order relativistically dense objects are not incompatible with Newtonian dynamics. This then means, again to the first order, black holes are within the domain of classical physics.
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
            You deny that a body can be so massive that light cannot escape from it? (I hate to break the bad news, but that was Immanuel Kant's reductio ad absurdum to Newton's theory. He rejected it because it led to the idea of a "black hole" a body so massive that Newtonian corpuscles of light would be unable to leave it. Apparently, that seemed "anti-conceptual" to Kant.)
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
            • Posted by ewv 1 year, 2 months ago
              Newton didn't understand enough about light to even begin to incorporate it into the concepts of his gravitational theory and the theory is inadequate to deal with it. Algebraic manipulations without regard to the concepts or applicability of the theory are rationalism. You can't "derive" something from an inapplicable theory, only stumble onto strained claims with equivalent looking formulas with different meanings.
              Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
            • Posted by ProfChuck 1 year, 3 months ago
              Thanks, I did not know that. Kant's analysis is a wonderful example of how "common sense" can lead you astray. "There are much stranger things in heaven and earth... " Shakespeare had it right as he so frequently did.
              Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
              • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
                My apologies here. (And I owe a correction to ewv above.) I am unable to find much about Kant and Black Holes from googling. At best, if he "theorized" them, he did not provide the mathematical proof, which came from Pierre-Simon Laplace. Kant did, however, make serious contributions to astronomy.
                Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
        Thanks for yet another cogent statement, ewv. I suggest that if you have no interest in reading Popper's The Logic of Scientific Discovery that you at least read the Wikipedia entry on Falsifiability. It is important to extract from that what can be integrated into an objective understanding of Science as a Profession (in particular) and knowledge (in general).

        Popper regarded astrology and Freudian psychology as pseudo-sciences because no test could disprove them.

        That is where your claim fails, that "Science is ever expanding knowledge … Science advances when more scope and precision become possible, adding to our knowledge through contextual principles." I assure you, having socialized with them on several occasions that modern astrologers consider themselves far advanced over the star-readers of old, and, of course, distance themselves from the daily horoscope. Conspiracy theorists from the mundane to the extra-terrestrial always find new and better evidence to expand their understanding. Just consider the Millennarians within the political right, including many self-identified "Objectivists" who insist that the end of the world is at hand. Every day's news brings ever more evidence of what they expect to believe, always expanding their knowledge, and widening their scope.

        What they all lack is admissions of the existence of facts that could disprove their theories.

        On the other hand, Newton's Laws of Motion are testable. Within whatever convenient range of measurement, if force were not equal to the product of mass and acceleration, we would find that out. That is what an experiment is: a test of falsifiability. In that, you are right, when you noted that Newton's mechanics was not "falsified". Not only does it provide a consistent explanation, tests to disprove it have failed. Freudian psychology and astrology have been falsified.
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
          Science being ever expanding knowledge does not fail with astrology. Astrological predictions and "explanations" are not knowledge. Who cares how advanced some astrologer or other mystic thinks he is?

          Trying to equate science with "falsifiability" and "testable" does not explain conceptual knowledge and adds nothing. Conceptual knowledge already has principles of objectivity and of truth as correspondence with reality based on observation. But Popper is worse than that because it is itself anti-conceptual and a form of philosophical skepticism as a result.
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
            Astrology has explanatory power. They can explain anything and everything about you. You are a nitpicker because you are a Virgo. ("I was born in December.") Ah, you have a Venus rising and Venus is the contrary aspect of Virgo. On and on… And population statistics will show to whatever precision available that people born at some time are different from people born at some other time.

            Freudian psychology has the same power: Id-Ego-Super Ego… Oedipus Complex, Electra Complex… suppression, repression, neurosis,… avoidance complex… Lots of explanations…

            Moreover, modern astrologers acknowledge astronomy as the science in support of their art. For good astrology, you need good measurements.

            That speaks to the pragmatist fallacy of measuring without a conceptual basis.
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
            Yes, I read all of that in Harriman, the same as you did.

            At what step in the Scientific Method would you add
            "Form a concept."
            or
            "Abstract a concept from the relevant percepts."
            or
            "Differentiate the essential distinguishing characteristic and integrate it to a relevant, established truth."

            You might as well insist on subject-verb agreement, because like good grammar, thinking conceptually is fundamental to any rational and productive endeavor.
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
            • Posted by ewv 1 year, 2 months ago
              For the first part, you don't need the Harriman book for something that basic.

              Formulation of new concepts in science goes hand in hand with the theory development, which like any problem with creativity can take a very long time through many attempted iterations, head scratching, and subconscious processing until the right thing occurs to you after many trips back to the drawing board and new empirical investigations. Proper concept formation is crucial, but one can't say that a new causal principle and its validation means 'just make a concept, problem solved'.
              Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
      See, however, David Harriman and other Objectivists who deny that "science proceeds by negation." I agree with the importance of falsification. It is as significant an idea as Robert Boyle's original proposition of openness in The Sceptical Chymist.

      Nobel laureate Kary Mullis noted that many of his peers were born in months close to his own. He wondered if there was a correlation. You could do a statistical study to show that Geminis are two-faced and Tauruses are plodders, etc. Prove it all you want; it proves nothing. Falsification sorts the truths from the fictions.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by Lucky 1 year, 3 months ago
    Humans engage in various activities.
    Driven both by knowledge and instinct, various activities keep an individual and the species alive and may involve hunting, gathering, eating, shelter, reproduction, sleep.

    Then there are social needs as (most) humans are social animals.
    An important sub-class of both the above is trade. The word commerce is used to describe human activities which have some interaction at least at the selling end which have the objective of material gain.
    Then there is the need for expression and creation by art, music and literature. This group may belong both to trade and social needs.

    Then there is the human thirst for knowledge, for its own sake as well as for survival and commerce. There are various ways to attempt this. One such is called science or the scientific method. Science is the search for knowledge using approaches in MM's lists. This searching identifies and classifies knowledge rather than accumulating experience and data. Such classified knowledge leads rules, laws, to be drawn up using explanations from which predictions are made.
    The objective for this activity we call science is the gaining of knowledge -is does not have to be useful.
    The use, the application, of knowledge gain we call technology.
    The application to trade and social needs occurs in such activities as engineering and medicine.

    Rand- Nature, to be conquered must be understood.
    Feynman- Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts.
    Apologies to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Comment hidden by post owner or admin, or due to low comment or member score. View Comment
  • Posted by  $  MichaelAarethun 1 year, 3 months ago
    The short version is rule two. Observe, Test, Does it work? Is it useful? It's nice to see the longer and more detailed lists posted and discussed. Thanks.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by  $  Zenphamy 1 year, 3 months ago
    I define science as the effort we put put forth to find and understand the causes of the actual effects we encounter in life as human men.
    I think what you've posed is some methodology of how to do science.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
      Thanks, Zen. I assert that the methodology is science. Michael A above reduced it to two steps: Observe. Test. I like the Sidney Harris "miracle" cartoon: "You need to be more explicit in Step 2."

      We also need to be more explicit in Step 1. Even observational sciences such as geology and astronomy are based carefully defined and validated explanations of what to observe and why. We do not just look around at random. I love going out with my telescope, but wondrous as it is, I am (I hope) more than a slack-jawed savage staring at the Great Unknown.

      That speaks to what a "test" is.
      "Since the Renaissance, the term experiment has been used in diverse ways to describe a variety of procedures such as a trial, a diagnosis, or a dissection …"
      (On my blog here: http://necessaryfacts.blogspot.com/20....

      Your thumbnail definition begs a myriad of questions. You said that science is "the effort we put put forth to find and understand the causes of the actual effects we encounter in life as human men." But not human women? I am sure that you did not mean that. What is a human non-man or a non-human man? What are you trying to say?

      It has to be more than effort. It must be productive effort. How do we know what will be productive? We are not working at random. Something must be informing our efforts. That "something" is science itself. it is important that the scientific method is self-validating. Modern philosophers claim that tautologies are uninformative. (That is the "analytical" side of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy.) Unmarried men are bachelors says nothing, they claim. In fact, it says a great deal and, being a statement of identity it is fundamental to understanding the very complicated social structure of marriage.

      What do you mean by "actual" effects? You mean real, rather than supposed or wrongfully perceived? Well, yes, of course, so is "actual" a redundant term? Did you mean something else?

      Is finding the causes without understanding them not also science? Even 300 years after Newton we do not "understand" gravity, but we certainly "found" it. The same is true of biological evolution. Darwin's theories cannot stand up to skeptical inquiry. And he was not the first to propose them. He also was preceded by others such as William Smith (1769-1839) who put the theory of evolution to practical use.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
        We do understand gravity and evolution. Knowledge is always finite -- limited to what it is -- and there is always more to find out. Darwinian evolution does stand up to inquiry, especially with modern genetic evidence and explanation. Darwinian evolution is a specific theory, not just "life evolves". Competing hypotheses at his time, including the "God did it" version, differed in ways that ruled out the other ideas..
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
          If knowledge is "finite" (as you say "limited to what is"), then it cannot be unlimited (as you say, "there is always more to find out."). Either-or. We do not know what gravity "is". We only know how it operates. Newton disliked the idea of action at a distance. Feynman worked with "fields" his entire life, but wondered if our perception of the "field" is only the manifestation of something "underneath". On the other hand, we know what a chicken is…

          And yet…
          "If gravity be an inherent quality, pent up and quiet in matter, how can it produce action at a distance? If it be an incessant emanation from matter in all directions, why does not matter become exhausted of it? If it emanates only towards attracting bodies, how can it know in what direction to travel? Thus it may be seen that the admission of attraction as an inherent quality precludes all rational inquiry. Yet so far as man has studied and comprehended nature, her ways are in accordance with reason and with the equivalent relation of cause and effect." — Memoir on the Constitution of Matter and Laws of Motion, by J. L. Riddell, New Orleans Medical Journal, March, 1846, volume II, page 602.

          So, Einstein said that matter warps the space-time continuum. But you deny that space-time is curved. Do you have a better explanation?
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
            Knowledge being finite does not mean that you can't learn more. Whatever it is, it is that and only that at that time. Knowledge does not mean omniscience. Everything is limited to what it is: it is definite and specific to its own identity. It is not unlimited or without identity. Knowledge is no different in that respect. Things being what they are does not mean that they can't change over time.

            We do know what gravity is. It is an attractive force between masses dependent on the amount of the masses and the distance between them, all in the usual form. And you all kinds of instances of it from the Cavendish experiment to apples falling from trees to what happens when you stand on your bathroom scale to the solar system. That we don't know how it works in more detail by what mechanism, or more about mass, does not mean that we don't know what gravity is. Knowing something is not and does not require omniscience. You know what you know. Not knowing more or knowing everything does not mean that you don't know anything.

            Newton not liking 'action at a distance' means that he didn't like not knowing or being able to account for what happens throughout the distance or what may be happening at some other distance somewhere else where there is no mass. But that something happens and the force acts on each mass at the distance is a fact. It's not good to not like facts qua facts.

            The mathematical gravitational field is a higher level abstraction in our hierarchy of knowledge. (Refer to Chapter 3 on "Abstractions from Abstractions" in IOE for an elementary explanation of levels of abstraction.) It isn't a floating abstraction, it's related to other concepts, integrated within a theory.

            You know the relations between gravitational field, gravitational force, and gravitational acceleration, all of which require other concepts to relate them, such as mass, velocity, distance, time, derivatives and gradients. It requires both concepts of mathematical method and concepts of things. (Refer to Chapter 4 on "Concepts of Consciousness" in IOE.)

            It isn't a physical entity, like a chicken that you can't see directly. And it isn't like a flow field in the Euler or Navier Stokes equations for a fluid that refers to velocities of regions of matter. As a higher level of abstraction it allows you to identify what the gravitational force would be anywhere on another mass if it were there.

            Understanding it depends on a great deal of prior knowledge, ultimately based on perceptions at the base of all your knowledge, but not a perception of the gravitational field as such: It is a theoretical entity whose existence is inferred through conceptual knowledge of other observations. Objective abstractions must not be reified into 'things' intrinsic to existence, as if they were all some kinds of chickens, but neither are they subjective fantasies. They are our objective means of knowing reality through a complex abstract hierarchy of concepts, provided that the concepts and theories are objectively formulated in accordance with reality.

            That is how you know what a gravitational field is. That you don't know more about it, and don't know of something like a hidden chicken to which it refers, or some kind of blob with no identity but characteristics and behaviors tied to it, does not mean that you don't anything about it or don't know what it is, i.e., what the concept means. We understand physics through abstract concepts mathematically formulated. Understanding of more complex phenomena is indirect, through higher levels of abstractions: Again, that is our means of objective conceptual awareness of the universe through abstraction when done by valid means.

            The same goes for Einstein's theory of gravity except that it is far more complex than simple Newtonian physics. Space-time represented mathematically as 4 dimensions relates spacial dimensions with time in the form of the distance traveled by light in the time. The 4 dimensions are mathematically independent, not 4 directions in a reified 4D universe somehow extending 3D space.

            Space is itself an abstraction as a relation between entities, not a 'thing' as Newton thought of it as big container. Time refers to a periodic measure of change, also an abstraction. If human beings disappeared -- if there were human no consciousnesses to think of space and time, the facts of entities and change (like the vibrations in an atomic clock) that give rise to our concepts would still exist, but not the concepts of space and time.

            The concepts are our means of understanding the universe conceptually in a relation between existence and consciousness, not things intrinsic to existence (like Aristotle's version of Platonic forms), but also not subjective figments of imagination trapped in a consciousness unrelated to existence. Don't reify space-time.

            Einstein's equations of general relativity are the form of the mathematics relating space, time, and mass through the mathematical concept of curvature -- "curvature" in the form of a higher level of abstraction generalized to 4 independent mathematical dimensions, not a simple attribute of an object having a curved surface.

            The mathematics is similar to the differential geometry used to describe a curved surface like the earth or the Navier equations for an elastic shell, but the mathematical generalization does not refer to a simple object or a Newtonian 4D container reifying the abstractions. It refers through the chain of abstractions built on abstractions in the conceptual hierarchy to something about the universe, but it does not mean that space and time are an object, let alone a 4 dimensional object, that is physically curved like a chicken. Mathematics is a science of method. The mathematics of differential geometry is used because it allows for relating measurements in space and time in a certain mathematical form providing conceptual economy of thought. Don't reify abstractions.

            You can say that "space-time has curvature" (if Einstein's theory is correct), but you have to know what that means at the appropriate level of abstraction and not reify it into giant 4 dimensional warped chicken.
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
            • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
              I can only go +1, not higher. I cut it and pasted it into a Word document and put one copy in a folder labeled "Science" and another copy in a folder labeled "Objectivism."

              What we can, and cannot "reify" is an interesting question. I believe that mathematics describes physical reality because the analytic and synthetic are unified as the objective. Beyond that, I have no consistent answer. I would need a week to write anything equivalent to yours.
              Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
              • Posted by ewv 1 year, 2 months ago
                Don't reify anything. Abstractions refer to reality through the hierarchy. Even for first level concepts the essence of a concept is never a "thing". Universals are epistemological, not metaphysical, so don't reify.

                Mathematics by itself doesn't describe reality. It is the means by which you relate in terms of concepts what can be measured. Mathematics is a science of method, not about things like physics does.
                Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by ProfChuck 1 year, 3 months ago
            A careful reading of Einstein and close examination of his field equations reveals an interesting caveat. "If one regards the presence of mass to induce a distortion in four dimensional space-time that is identical to that provided by an accelerating reference frame the equivalence of gravitational and inertial mass looses its position as a paradox." From a lecture by Einstein at Cal Tech in 1953. It was Einsteins point that gravitation can be mathematically described as a mass induced distortion in the hypergeometry of space-time. That means that the math works it does not necessarily mean that the underlying mechanism has been revealed. Thus far higher dimensions are inferred by gravitational theory but they have never been directly observed. The recent detection of gravitational waves may change that.
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by  $  Zenphamy 1 year, 3 months ago
        Actual vs. Imagined effects.--We imagine space expanding, but it's not verifiable.--We imagine the Earth's climate warming caused by human activity, enough to kill us, but we lie to derive data.--We imagine The Big Bang, but we can't verify it.--We imagine BigFoot, but we can't find him.--etc, etc.

        Some effort is productive, some is not, yet honest effort directed at actual vs imagined effects, productive or not, will provide information and knowledge. Many 'discoveries' are unforeseen or previously unseen effects, observed while examining another.
        .
        We see and measure the effects we call Gravity, We don't yet understand the cause nor have we "found it".--Darwin's observations and theories, within the knowledge available to him at the time, has led us to most of our current,understanding of natural evolution vs creationism.
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by CircuitGuy 1 year, 3 months ago
    "differentiated engineering from science."
    Jaded engineers say non-engineers see it this way: Every success is a scientific achievement. When something goes wrong, however, it can be traced to an engineering failure.
    I think that's old-school, and may be changing.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by  $  WilliamShipley 1 year, 3 months ago
      Thomas Edison worked for a long time to find a substance which could be used to make an electric light with a thin filament that would not burn out too fast. It was a trial and error process that eventually yielded a successful product. There is no indication that he actually knew they physics of why that material worked, only that it did.

      This seems to be an engineering feat, not a scientific one.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by CircuitGuy 1 year, 3 months ago
        "There is no indication that he actually knew they physics of why that material worked, only that it did."
        Yes. The same with Marconi. Physics said EM waves propagted line-of-sight. No one knew about ground wave or skip. He just kept cranking up the power, hoping that somehow the signals would get through and they did.
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by  $  Dobrien 1 year, 3 months ago
          Marconi died 1937 Tesla died 1943 .6 months after Tesla died the US Supreme Court ruled all of Marconi's patents invalid and awarded the radio patent to Tesla.
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 1 year, 3 months ago
    Yes, "what is science" can be a conundrum, As a business and economics major I first earned a liberal arts degree but when perusing those same subjects in my final two years it became a degree in science.
    Now I would consider a degree in economics to be a science because of it's use of math.

    Einstein and theoretical physics and biology always amazed me because much was imagined in mathematics first and later, much was found to be true in reality...like the atom, it's electrons, protons, neutrons of a cell.
    Chemistry is another fascinating field. Astrophysics seems to use all of the aspects of science; observation, mathematics, physics, quantum physics and chemistry.

    Quantum physics is my favorite...it also demonstrates my main pet peeve with many of the failures in the sciences...The problem with being able to look at whats there and not what one might expect to find there. That's why I was so taken with Mark Hamilton's concept of "Wide Scope Accountability" Below is this excerpt from my book:

    Wide- Infinity in all directions
    Scope- To extend our mental range and sight to include all vantage points
    Accountability- To honestly consider all possibilities and accept responsibility for
    all outcomes.

    Ok… Now let us define it

    To See and Think without Limits, Utilizing all Knowledge; Past, Present and most Probable Future, with Profound Honesty, to consider and Analyze all Possible; Explanations, Outcomes or Solutions, without any preconceived expectations.

    A shorter version might be easier to remember, now that you have been exposed to the full meaning: Diligently considering all Possibilities, with Profound Honesty and Objectivity in Dealing with Reality, to solve any Problem or to create any Value.

    Without any preconceived expectation is a very important point we will explore further:
    ""Another factor comes into play often and we do not even realize it. Preconceived expectations. What many scientist, researchers or value creators, have trouble with, when creating something new, solving a problem or compiling statistics, even trying to see through the illusions of what is really going on, is having a preconceived notion of what it is you are looking for. Many times, if you expect to find a thing, you will find that thing. It is just the way the universe works. This is why it is important to remain objective and approach reality with profound honesty. In other words. Remain open to whatever you find.""

    Let us examine two concepts presented in the definition.

    Accountability: We are all accountable no matter what actions we may choose to take
    or not. It is Inherent. LIKE IT OR NOT.

    Responsibility: Acceptance of the possibility that you might have to respond
    Differently given an Unfavorable or otherwise not as expected
    Outcome. You must respond differently given new knowledge
    In order to stay in alignment with your intentions.

    To effectively use this tool we need:
    Dedication to Honesty and Reality: You MUST be honest with yourself therefore you
    WILL be Honest with others and deal with Reality,
    . Not some Illusion, falsehood or deception .

    (To fully understand, being profoundly honest with yourself: read; “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen and “Suppose We Let Civilization Begin” by Richard W. Wetherill)

    Integrated thought: Using both the right mind and the left mind at the same time.
    You know… When the light bulb over your head comes on.
    The right Photographic creative mind is that voice in your head,
    It speaks for the Subconscious that records everything.
    The left logical mind brings order and logic to our thoughts,
    Through Speech, our actions and Pen to paper.

    Now, maybe some of you here can now understand my penchant for honesty and responsibility in science and technology.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by johnpe1 1 year, 3 months ago
    there are some serious scientific secrets which make
    our nuclear deterrent work, so the answer to your last
    question is yes. -- j
    .
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
      I have to disagree. What you are saying is that only one person knows how to make a nuclear bomb and he is not talking. Just because we all do not know something is not the same thing as secret in methodology. In Boyle's time, alchemists kept their work to themselves. They did not share. There was no Royal Journal of Magic and Alchemy.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by Lucky 1 year, 3 months ago
    http://joannenova.com.au/2016/03/the-...
    The above is an interesting aside to this thread.
    It says- government money destroys science.

    Consider: " three kinds of researchers, one driven by curiosity for the truth,
    another on a mission to solve a problem, and
    a third with an “induced” curiosity created by demand from elsewhere — boss or government.
    He predicted that the system would fail if those who were induced outnumbered the truly curious, as the “induced” curiosity was not well connected to reality, whereas the other two types were. The primary aim of the induced researcher was not to solve a problem or uncover an answer but just to keep their jobs, and there were many ways to “keep their jobs” that did not involve actual discovery.
    ....
    The government is strangling science. The more money it spends the more real scientists are forced out.
    .. .. Instead of questioning the orthodoxy, the neo-”scientist” is there to maintain it. "

    An example-
    'Glaciers are under-studied from a feminist viewpoint ”that focuses on gender (understood here not as a male/female binary, but as a range of personal and social possibilities) and also on power, justice, inequality, and knowledge production in the context of ice, glacier change, and glaciology.”"
    Part of the output from a $413,000 government grant which included -glaciers from a feminist perspective.
    http://phg.sagepub.com/content/early/...
    File under- feminist glaciology, ..
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
      That would also apply to corporate funding of research, such as Bell Labs, would it not. It seems that you are offering a kind of "Austrian theory" of research. The Austrian economists, following the sensibilities of Adam Smith - dislike "credit" and "corporations." They want all investment to come from savings. Similarly, you seem to be saying that "true" research comes only from the scientist's own resources.

      I grant that we have many good examples of that. I just ask about the other examples, again, say, of 3M, a corporation which famously funds open research.

      On the other hand, one of the ironies of government research is that their greatest (popular) claims to success about computers and the Internet are just the opposite. Ray Tomlinson recently passed away. He invented email. But he warned his colleagues not to mention it because it was not what they were supposed to be working on. In Steven Levy's Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution are similar stories of people doing what interested them, not what they were being paid to do.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
        Private corporate research labs such as Bell Labs, ATT&T, Xerox, and BBN are famous for their accomplishments. "Skunk works" unofficial projects are often the source of it and are tolerated because creativity cannot be predicted and scheduled.
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
          No Evidence That Industry Funding Increases Research Misconduct
          To the Editor:

          In “Research Scrutiny” (The Chronicle Trends Report, February 29), you present a dangerously misleading characterization of industry-sponsored research and zero evidence industry funding is more likely to increase research misconduct.
          […]
          More importantly, you ignore an obvious truth: Nobody gains more from accurate, verifiable science than industry. The market is an unforgiving arbiter of both performance and value and companies will derive no benefit by fudging research in order to produce defective products for customers to purchase. Instead, you exploit America’s most popular binge: company bashing.

          (Full letter to The Chronicle of Higher Education here: http://chronicle.com/blogs/letters/no...

          Uncomfortable Science and the Embargoed WADA Doping Study
          Back in 2011 WADA - the World Anti-Doping Agency - provided research funding to a group of researchers to conduct a study on the prevalence of doping in elite track and field. The researchers conducted their research and then prepared a paper for publication.
          […]
          . . . more than one year after completion of the study, did it become clear to the authors that WADA could not act independently from IAAF [International Association of Athletic Federations -MM], because WADA had made an agreement with IAAF which was not disclosed to the research group. According to this agreement, WADA would need permission from IAAF in order for us to submit the paper . . .

          Full article on Roger Pielke's blog here: http://leastthing.blogspot.com/2016/0...
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by jdg 1 year, 3 months ago
    The OP is right; that process = science; but some minor quibbles.

    There's really more than one "publishing" step in the process. Before you conduct your major experiment (at least if it's in an area that involves observing natural phenomena, such as astronomy) you're supposed to share your intentions with your peers, so they can try it themselves, as Einstein did with the solar eclipse that validated Special Relativity. On the other hand, you're not supposed to present your conclusions to the lay public (who will take them as facts) until enough peer review has already happened that they're pretty reliable. If you publish early (effectively skipping the peer review process) you become known as a crank. There are a lot more cranks around than real scientists.

    Of course, science can only apply to phenomena that are falsifiable (that is, testable), and this is where all attempts to "prove" moral theories fail. With enough observation, you may be able to say that following behavioral rule X produces measurable result Y, but any judgment of that result as good or bad is nothing but an expression of the speaker's preference for an outcome.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
      Science is not "process". The false equation repeatedly leaves out conceptualization. The notions of avoiding measurement versus only measure is a false alternative. This is in turn used by anti-conceptualists influenced by the Logical Positivists and Pragmatists to wrap themselves in the virtue of measurement as they pretend they have a monopoly on it.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
      • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
        Science is indeed a process, and conceptualization is fundamental to that, as it is to every human endeavor, including fine arts, romance, and parenting. And, as I said (and as I trust you agree), that "scientific method" is not limited to laboratory practice, but, in fact, describes how a fully competent person, a fully rational person, lives.

        I do not have a lot of moral problems with logical positivists or pragmatists. If you know what positivism is, then you must appreciate that logical positivism was an attempt to bring together again the rational and the empirical. Logical positivism is just a faulty kind of objectivism. Similarly, physicist Alan Sokal has been doing yeoman's service in asserting science over post-modernist "fashionable nonsense." Sokal calls himself a political leftist; he does not like being called a Marxist. You can disparage his politics. You and I would agree that if he believes what he writes about science, then he is harboring severe contradictions relative to this political philosophy. But that's his problem. His defenses of science are still cogent.

        (I don't know who you pissed off with that ideological summary, but I put your Zero back to One.)
        Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
        • Posted by ewv 1 year, 3 months ago
          A science is an organized body of knowledge about some general aspect of reality. It has content. It is not method or process alone. It is understanding by appropriate epistemological method. Each science requires methods for valid formulations and validations of its theories, dependent on their subject matter. What they have in common is, like any knowledge, all science must be conceptual, objective, non-contradictory, and rationally obtained and formulated. Concepts and principles have content. Knowledge is knowledge of something. That is much more than prescribed procedures of process. Its systematic and precise nature is also much more than just how a competent rational person lives, but both require commitment to objectivity in principle.

          Logical Positivism was a result of Hume's anti-conceptual Empiricism and has a lot in common with Pragmatism. It's not a faulty kind of Objectivism. It isn't anything like Objectivism, which has radically different basic positions on the basic questions of philosophy. Perhaps your sympathy with Logical Positivism and the idea of science as "method" stem from being influenced by the Positivists more than you think. See Leonard Peikoffs lectures on the British empiricists, Kant, Pragmatism and Logical Positivism the second part of his history of philosophy series.

          We haven't been discussing the ethics of the Pragmatists and Analysts in this thread, it's about the epistemological nature of science. But the anti-conceptual nature of Pragmatism, Positivism and the varieties and emphasis in Operationism and Popper in the philosophy of science and in the name of science are very destructive of the ability to have knowledge of the world and provide a very bad philosophy of science.
          Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
          • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
            I did not capitalize objectivism above. I said that logical positivism is a faulty kind of objectivism. Positivism was derived directly from empiricism, the synthetic half of the Great (and nonexistent) Dichotomy. For L-P, I look to Bertrand Russell. (Others may have preceded him; I do not know that much more.) He sought to bring a logical structure to pragmatism. That would unite the rational and empirical, the logical and evidentiary, the analytic and synthetic, the theoretical and experimental. And the better statement is that he sought to re-unite them.

            The implicit philosophy of the Enlightenment was objectivism (small-o). Based on Newtonian philosophy, the Enlightenment was possible when people realized, however implicitly, that the evidentiary world is logically consistent, i.e., mathematically predictable; and conversely, that reason can provide answers not only about how to construct a steam engine, but also a government. The Constitution of the United States is a primary document in political science.

            Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism (capital-o) is a 20th century formalization of much that was implicit in the Enlightenment. In addition, Rand considered and solved problems not perceived by the earlier philosophers. Most important were her theories of epistemology and ethics.

            Rand's philosophy of Objectivism is in direct opposition to most previous schools of thought, at least in academic philosophy, as since the 17th century, most philosophers argued from a false dichotomy of rationalism versus empiricism. As rational-empiricism small-o objectivism denies the dichotomy. Capital-O Objectivism specifically does so in a famous essay by Dr. Leonard Peikoff, included in later editions of Ayn Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.
            Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
            • Posted by ewv 1 year, 2 months ago
              For the meaning and history of Logical Positivism listen to Leonard Peikoff's lectures on the history of philosophy. It wasn't Bertrand Russell and you give it too much credit.
              Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
      Thanks for the "quibbles." I could not say everything all at once, and I do agree that falsifiability is important. I did not mention it then because it is a sore spot with Objectivists. They do not like Karl Popper and they reply that "science does not advance by negation" i.e., that falsifiability is the wrong epistemological model. No one brought it up before. You did now.

      I judge science fairs. In the other discussion on "Ego Depletion" it came up that we reward "originality" very heavily and we do not reward replication. And no one mentions falsifiability. In other words, as in the case of Ego Depletion, instead of repeating the original experiment in new ways, one of those 30 or 50 subsequent researchers should have sought to disprove it.

      We do that in social science. In sociology, ideologues from different schools attack each other's research with studies of their own casting doubt (if not disdain) on those other theories. Just as post modernists denigrate physical science as "not proving anything" because new truths are discovered, physical scientists disparage social science for this process. In fact, though, social science is more true to the standard of truth.
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  
  • Posted by CircuitGuy 1 year, 3 months ago
    "I signed an agreement that I understood that medicine is an art, not a science, and that outcomes are not predictable."
    This sounds like a very poor choice of words on their part. So many things in science are modeled with a probability distribution function (PDF). The one I work with is signal strength in a multipath environment. Reflections from a pattern of nodes and antinodes as waves interfere constructively and destructively. You see that in physics class. Radio waves bounce off hundreds of objects, creating a jumble of nodes/antinodes, so we use models to estimate a PDF of signal strength.

    So if I know the specs of a phone and base station I can calculate PDF of the signal being over some threshold, say some threshold where the packet error rate is low enough to make a clear phone call. If I had to figure out where a phone would work in a certain location where there's a significant probably of signal strength < the threshold of acceptable packet error rate, maybe I could say “I don't know. This is an art not a science,” but that would just be sloppiness to avoid explaining the science.
    Reply | Mark as read | Best of... | Permalink  
    • Posted by  $  1 year, 3 months ago
      Thanks! I think that rather than being sloppy, their lawyers were being very specific in avoiding liability claims. But I appreciate your offering an example from the real world. Feynman made fun of mathematicians who refused to provide proofs by saying, "It's trivial."
      Reply | Mark as read | Parent | Best of... | Permalink  

FORMATTING HELP

  • Comment hidden. Undo