Falsifiability? Let's not be Naive. (Page 8)
theHating: Is the radiometric dating? What's the matter, couldn't find the ladies locker rooms in your all-boys boarding school?
theHating: I used to work a contract for bank of america, they would always call and ask to speak to me. Then when they said "you cant help me, i want to speak to your manager", i had to give them the talk about how you can only ask that question so many times until there are no more managers left to ask for.
theHating: Lol, definitely not any idiots pummelling a strawman here!
Now, compare with Kitty's gambit: when the evidence is at odds with my theory (sharks and horseshoe crabs, etc.), there must be an "unrecognized force" at work. My theory is just fine, thank you very much.
Does she sound like a scientist hell-bent on falsifying a pet theory? Or a person trying very hard to do precisely the opposite: PROTECT her theory against falsification?
kittybobo34: When I used the term unrecognized force, I was referring to the fact that I didn't know what was going on there. I have since looked into it. No more unrecognized forces, just simple survival of the fittest in the genetic eddy of Niches. While Darwins theory is simple, its execution can be very complicated at times.
(Edited by kittybobo34)
Achilles942: "When I used the term unrecognized force, I was referring to the fact that I didn't know what was going on there. I have since looked into it. No more unrecognized forces, just simple survival of the fittest in the genetic eddy of Niches. While Darwins theory is simple, its execution can be very complicated at times." - Kitty
I've no idea whether or not Kitty's remarks above are true, i.e., that the failure of horseshoe crabs et al to evolve in accordance with unadulterated Darwinian theory can be satisfactorily accounted for by appeal to the "genetic eddy of niches" -- whatever THAT is. But let us suppose that they are.
What can be learned from this? Well, Kitty has told us repeatedly that her theory "fits all the facts", and has suggested in various places, both implicitly and explicitly, that the canons of good science demand that if or when a theory does NOT fit all the facts, the theory is dead scientific meat. It has been falsified and must be ignominiously dumped.
(See OP, for example, or my 3rd post on page 2. If it's a strawman I'm attacking, as a certain confused troll implies above, then the strawman's name is KittyBobo. I am addressing direct quotes.)
This is the naive -- and long discredited -- conception of science I've been at pains to highlight throughout this thread.
In other words, Kitty, following (a strawman) Karl Popper, is suggesting:
(i) Science proceeds, at least partly, through a process of falsification.
(ii) A theory must fit the facts.
(iii) When a theory does not fit the facts, it has been shown to be false and is abandoned.
Following Thomas Kuhn, on the other hand, I've been proposing what I believe to be a far less naive picture of what typically goes on in science. Note first that Kuhn divides science into what he calls "normal science" -- the vast majority of scientific activity -- punctuated by rare episodes of "revolutionary science", when all hell breaks loose.
In other words, following Kuhn, and contra Kitty and the Popper strawman, here's what I'm suggesting is a picture of science, not only more sophisticated, but more faithful to the historical facts.
(I do not expect it for one minute to be faithful to ALL the historical facts. Science is a mighty complex business, boy and girls.)
(i) Normal science does not proceed through falsification. Normal science is fiercely conservative, dogmatic even. Paradigms are jealously guarded.
(ii) No major theories fit all the facts (and if you hear someone claim that his/her theory DOES fit all the facts, you ought to be very nervous).
(iii) The principal activity of normal science consists of assimilating recalcitrant data with theory; what Kuhn refers to as "puzzle solving". In other words, in every case where facts are at odds with theory -- what Kuhn calls an "anomaly" -- the scientists working within the paradigm, far from trying to falsify it, will do everything in their power to reconcile the anomaly with the theory.
So, applying this to the present case study, we see the following:
1. Horseshoe crabs (and countless other species) are not doing what unadulterated Darwinian theory would lead us to expect.
2. Thus, we have yet another case of the theory not fitting the facts.
3. Is the theory pronounced falsified and rejected as Kitty's Popperian strictures would have us believe? Ans: Nope.
4. What happens instead -- just as Kuhn predicts -- is that the fact-theory mismatch is regarded as an anomaly or a puzzle to be solved, not as falsifying evidence.
5. The scientists then get to work trying to solve the puzzle; trying to assimilate the anomaly into the theoretical framework; trying to shove the awkward evidence into the box provided by the paradigm. Any failure to do so is regarded as a shortcoming of the scientist, not the theory. The theory is just fine, thank you very much.
6. Niche theory is invoked -- or invented -- to explain (or a cynic might say "explain away" ) the anomaly.
7. Another great triumph for The Theory is declared.
Chalk up another one for the Kuhnians
P.S. The reason I use the word "strawman" before Karl Popper's name is that Sir Karl was a bit more sophisticated than this. Even he recognized that there could be no such thing as a logical refutation in matters empirical. What he was espousing, instead, is what we might call "methodological falsification": scientists must specify conditions in advance under which they would DECLARE their theory to be falsified. (Not the same thing as a theory being DEMONSTRATED to be false).
Of course, as a whole, they never do.
Achilles942: Another problem with a claim such as "my theory fits all the facts" is the naive presupposition that the "facts" are just sitting there, so to speak, waiting to be read off nature.
In other words (the naive fairytale continues), the facts are just the raw data, untainted by theory, which can be unproblematically read by any neutral observer, irregardless of the conceptual apparatus that he/she brings to bear.
Alas, things -- once again -- are not quite so simple.
To paraphrase Kant: "Theory without observation is empty; observation without theory is blind".
Without some kind of theoretical/conceptual apparatus to bring to bear on observation, all one sees -- in the words of William James -- is a "blooming, buzzing confusion", which is presumably how pre-linguistic infants see the world.
Don't believe me? Well, try looking at the horizon today around dusk. What are the facts you observe? The Sun setting? Then you'd be looking at the scene through geostatic spectacles.
Now put on your heliostatic spectacles and the Sun doesn't do any setting at all. The observed facts appear to have changed depending on whatever conceptual apparatus you bring to the party!
And when you're wearing irremovable Darwinian spectacles -- as it appears many of our members are -- do not naively expect your observations to be untainted by your own conceptual baggage.
Achilles942: The final paragraphs directly above illustrate how hard it can be at times to overcome our pre-scientific, pre-theoretical intuitions.
I suspect no one here subscribes to the geostatic theory, yet we continue to speak of the Sun "setting" or the Sun "going down". The Sun, of course, unless we're very badly mistaken, does no such thing.
What about those of you who are convinced of the truth of general relativity? Do you still speak of "time" and "space" in your everyday discourse?
If Einstein's theory is literally true, then there are, of course, no such things.
theHating: Just when I begin to really appreciate how complex science is - it just gets more complex.
theHating: And yes, kitty is the strawman! Errr, strawwoman?
I guess my poor american english made me believe you were an ID/creationist proponent.
Now I can't stop reading your posts....
Also, im sorry for calling your ideas "mental masturbation", that being said, i am rock hard rn.
Achilles942: "I guess my poor american english made me believe you were an ID/creationist proponent."
As Tom Jones said.... it's not unusual
The degree of brainwashing has reached such unprecedented heights that no rational person is allowed to cast aspersions on the Theory of Evolution (the one that no one can articulate).
To do so one would have to be -- and I quote the grand inquisitor Richard Dawkins verbatim -- "stupid, ignorant, insane, or....." (wait for it) ... "wicked"!!
Heresy will not be tolerated. You WILL convert to ToE (whatever it is today) or be made to pay a price.
But you've never heard of Dawkins? Ever heard of the trickle down effect?
But you're not brainwashed? That only happens to hapless Creationists in the Bible belt?
All I ask is that you THINK FOR YOURSELVES!!!!!!
Edit P.S. Just for the record, once again, I couldn't give a flying fook about God. He'll numb yer brain. And so will interminable Darwinian propaganda.
Angry Beaver: Yanno I'd never heard of Dawkins et al b4 I visited these forums, still not watched any of his vids
Angry Beaver: I always preferred to read articles myself.... you can take your time and go back over things to make sure you understood correctly
Angry Beaver: You know, them things with pages n stuff that we killed trees to make so we'd have something to do at night lol
theHating: Why would Popper’s suggestion, i.e. that the right way to demarcate between science and psuedo-science is by appeal to falsifiability, qualify as a theory? Even if it did, does it have enough in common with things like the theory of relativity or the theory of evolution by natural selection to count as a scientific theory?
Achilles942: "Why would Popper’s suggestion, i.e. that the right way to demarcate between science and psuedo-science is by appeal to falsifiability, qualify as a theory? Even if it did, does it have enough in common with things like the theory of relativity or the theory of evolution by natural selection to count as a scientific theory?" -TheHating
Whether we choose to call Popper's ideas on scientific method a "theory" or something else is a matter of little import, to myself at least. For convenience I'll just continue to use the word "theory" for now.
I would not myself consider Popper's theory to be scientific on the grounds that it has a highly normative component. Theories of scientific method, as opposed to scientific theories themselves, tend to contain both a descriptive element, as well as a prescriptive (or "normative" ) element. That is to say, we are being told not only that, by and large, this is how good science has been, and is being conducted, but also that this is how good science OUGHT TO be conducted.
Thomas Kuhn, on the other hand, I would regard as highly descriptive. Kuhn strikes me as being far more concerned with capturing what it is that scientists actually do, rather than what they ought to do.
"What would the demarcation criteria be for such philosophical theories?" - TheHating
The traditional answer to this question, I think, would be: Science deals in the empirical; philosophy deals in the non-empirical (busying itself with conceptual analysis from the comfort of one's armchair).
In recent decades this view has been challenged, most notably by W. V. O. Quine, by "epistemological naturalism". Naturalism holds that there is no qualitative distinction between science and philosophy; they are both part of the same continuum, albeit at opposite poles.
In a nutshell, it matters little to me whether a claim to knowledge is labelled "scientific" or not -- let others bicker over how to mark their own turf. All that matters to me is whether the claim is true, or at least, worthy of belief.