Should we believe what scientists say? (Page 7)
Peanut Brittle: I SPAT my mouthful of grapefruit juice all over the computer screen when I read your comment lol almost choked
lol @ abomination
Now I gotta clean my computer screen of all the saliva
AchillesSinatra: Latest lunacy from our resident science expert...
In basic logic, a conjunctive statement is one of the form [a & b & c & .... n]
"a", "b", "c", etc. are known as the "conjuncts" which constitute the statement.
If one or more of the conjuncts is false, the statement is assigned a value of false. Otherwise, in the case of all the conjuncts being true, the statement is assigned a value of true.
But don't take my word for it...
On page 109 of the "Most Atheists Don't Know About Science" thread in the science forum, our resident know-it-all science expert, kittybobo34, tells us:
"In your little math case, if A and B are true, but C and D are false, then the statement is 1/2 true"
One might be excused for thinking you are 1/2 out of your mind. Or 1/2 competent.
Or just plain old fashioned fulla shit.
Oh, and I'm considered the bad guy in that forum. When science experts speak, no matter how jawdoppingly false the claim, the rest of us, it seems, are supposed to just applaud and kowtow.
AchillesSinatra: One man's fish is another man's poisson.
And one man's "falsifying evidence" is another man's "puzzling evidence" or "anomaly" or "problem for the theory".
Despite what you might have heard science fans, or even scientists themselves, say about their favorite theory "fitting all the facts", countless philosophers and historians of science have pointed out that all major theories are born into an ocean of anomalies, that is, instances of theory NOT fitting the facts.
Now, pay close attention to the choice of words. In every such case, a critic of the theory in question might claim:
"Your theory does not fit the facts. The evidence falsifies your theory"
Those under the spell of a darling theory are unlikely to see matters this way. Even assuming the objection is acknowledged at all, the response is probably going to sound something like:
"Pfft and meh! Don't be ridiculous. That's not falsifying evidence. It's just an anomaly (or a "puzzle" or whatever). We're working on it. Clearly, we don't see the whole picture yet. My theory is as fit as a fiddle, thank you very much"
I've been told myself, for example, in the science forum that what might APPEAR to be a fact-theory mismatch -- horseshoe crabs, say, that didn't receive the memo telling them that they were supposed to be busy evolving -- is in fact no such thing. There are clearly "unknown forces" at work.
Few theories in the history of science have been more successful than Newtonian mechanics. Though now regarded as false, it held sway for two centuries or more, widely regarded with certainty or near-certainty as being true.
Imre Lakatos, in his essay "Newton's Effect on Scientific Standards", describes the situation around the year 1700, and the reaction of Newtonian defenders to the myriad anomalies plaguing their theory ...
"But Newtonians had little doubt that their programme would finally digest all the 'exceptions'; and this required a great deal of self confidence, for 'exceptions ', or 'anomalies', ' recalcitrant instances', abounded. It is characteristic, for instance, that nobody thought that the well-known fact that the comets' tails seem repulsed rather than attracted by the Sun, was a refutation of Newton's theory, although it was acknowledged as a problem -- or 'puzzle', as Kuhn would call it -- within Newton's research programme. Halley hoped its solution would be inserted in the first edition of the Principia. While it was still in the press, he wrote to Newton: 'I doubt not but this may follow from your principles with the like ease as all the other phenomena; but a proposition or two concerning these will add much to the beauty and perfection of your Theory of Comets.' Although Newton did not reply, no Newtonian was unduly worried.
The same tranquility was displayed at the many divergences between Newton's theory of the Moon and the observations. These divergences were regarded as problems but few thought there was anything wrong with the research programme: it was rather the researchers who were at fault. Newton's 'theory of the Moon' was in fact first published many years after the first edition of the Principia, in I702, in David Gregory's 'Astronomiae Physicae et Geometricae Elementa'. It calmly states that Newton's theory 'agrees VERY NEARLY with the phenomena as he had proved by very many places of the Moon observed by the celebrated Mr. Flamsteed'. But we have to remember that Newtonians never let the authority of observations prevail against their research programme; with the help of their positive heuristic they produced one theory after the other to accommodate counterexamples; but frequently they ignored observational counterevidence altogether: they knew not only that theories had to be constantly tested by observations but also observations by their theories."
Read it all here
Had Wireclub been around in 1700, then, we might well have heard an overzealous Newtonian apologist boast ...
"My theory fits all the facts. So there!"
Should you have believed him? Ans: of course not. To do so, you'd have to be
And next time you DO hear an overzealous neo-Darwinian apologist in the Wireclub science forum bloviating ...
"My theory fits all the facts. So there!"
Should you believe her?
AchillesSinatra: A prime example of the futility of trying to get a rabid Darwinian to admit that either "I haven't the faintest idea" or that there might be something wrong with her theory....
0:10 - 2:50
Finally, at the end of the squirming and evasion, in despair David Berlinski (who is not a Creationist, even though he's on their side of the table), pleads plaintively...
"Focus on my question. I'm begging you ..."
... to which the M.C. responds "I'm begging you not to"
... upon which the audience applauds thunderously and our science expert is allowed off the hot seat, absolved of any responsibility to justify the shortcomings of her pet theory.
Not at all unlike what we see here in our own little microcosm.
The attitude seems to be: "Ask me anything I can explain and I'll tell you how wonderful my theory is".
"Ask me anything I can't answer and .... "
David Berlinski . You're smarter than that mob of shysters put together.
AchillesSinatra: As if another example were needed to exhibit the futility of arguing with a dogmatist irretrievably spellbound by a theory...
At 3:37 our science expert tells us "These things grade insensibly into each other..."
Exactly! Well, that's the story anyway. Things grading imperceptibly into each other is precisely what Darwinian gradualism predicts.
Then watch 3:50 - 6:00
So it seems, by and large, rather than the fossil record being characterized by gradual continuity (stuff grading insensibly), what we find instead is a record comprised mainly of stasis and discontinuity (stuff NOT grading insensibly). Just as the paleontologists have been trying to tell us for decades.
To summarize: Darwinian gradualism predicts imperceptible continuity. The fossil record, by and large, reveals the exact opposite: stasis and DIScontinuity.
Do the Darwinians consider this evidence against their theory?
Bit of a no-brainer, eh?
AchillesSinatra: To our resident science experts...
I can't say I'm terribly impressed.
Gimme a person who says "Uh, I dunno" or "Er, I'm not sure" anyday.
How many times do you want your shite exposed?
Oh never mind, a tiger can't change its spots
AchillesSinatra: In a nutshell, should we believe our resident science experts?
I'd be very cassowary, boys and girls.
AchillesSinatra: Another member posted the following quote in the religion forum ("Faith", p316)
"There is a subtle distinction between saying that a theory is true and saying that we are justified in believing it. The idea goes back to Socrates. Perhaps we may never reach the truth in our lifetimes, but can we make progress toward it? Can we at least eliminate false claims to knowledge?
To say that a theory has warrant is to say that it has a credible claim to believability; that it is justifiable given the evidence. This is to say that even if a theory later turns out to be mistaken—like Newton’s theory of gravitation—one may still maintain that given the evidence at the time, scientists were rational to believe it. Why is this important?
Precisely because—given the way that science works—one expects that in the long run virtually all of our empirical theories will turn out to be false. But this does not mean that we are unscientific for believing them, or that it would be better to withhold all belief until the “rest of the evidence” is in. Indeed, given how science operates, the rest of the evidence will never be in!"
Lee McIntyre "The Scientific Attitude", p 42
So let me get this straight, Mr McIntyre....
We learn from history that virtually every scientific theory ever proposed, even those regarded as most highly confirmed, was later rejected as false...
(quite right - Achilles )
... and that our current theories, it is overwhelmingly likely, will suffer the same fate...
(I couldn't agree more - Achilles )
... but that we are rational to believe them?
Have you completely lost your mind, sir?
AchillesSinatra: After a post like the one above, the risk is always high that the reader will get the wrong impression. He might, for example, howl in outrage...
"So what are you telling us? We should believe nothing that scientists say? We should abandon science altogether? May you burn in hell, you scumbag science-denier!!!"
Er, no, that's not what I'm saying.
What I AM saying is that, in my opinion, a position of scientific realism is untenable.
Now, scientific realism comes in many forms, but a typical realist manifesto would sound something like this:
"Science generates, or aims to generate, theories which are true, or approximately true. Scientific theories give us a faithful representation of reality"
The above, on pain of looking very silly, would almost certainly be buttressed with a host of qualifications: "Our best theories", "in the mature sciences", etc., etc.
An unqualified claim "scientific theories are true", or simply "science is true", as we see Neil deGrasse Tyson making in the OP, would be laughed out of court.
In other words, the realist holds that, given certain qualifications, we ARE justified in believing that scientific theories are true, or approximately so, which is to say, among other things, that the entities and mechanisms postulated by the theory exist as described.
Well, if scientific realism is untenable, as I argue, are there any alternatives besides giving up on science altogether?
Scientific antirealism, likewise, comes in a bewildering panoply of forms. And to repeat for the zillionth time, "scientific antirealism" is not synonymous with "anti-science".
Antirealist sentiments abound in the writings of luminaries such as Mach, Hertz, Duhem, Poincare, Bohr, the early Einstein, and many others.
For example, might I interest you in my new range of antirealist positions...
1. Instrumentalism : Scientific theories are not even truth-evaluable; they are not the kinds of things that CAN be true or false. Scientific theories, properly understood, are more like tools which can be used to generate true observational consequences/predictions.
2. Pragmatism : Science progresses, not towards truth, but in terms of its problem solving ability.
3. Constructive Empiricism : Scientific theories, contra instrumentalism, ARE truth evaluable, but we are not justified in believing in their literal truth. The best science can aim for is to generate theories which are "empirically adequate", i.e., theories that get observable reality right.
huffypuffy00: I agree, lets lighten up a bit hey?
Here's my opinions of what scientists have to say;
They jump to conclusions
They jump even faster if money is involved
They jump even higher if it means disproving a colleague's theory
A scientist worth his salt is devoted to the dead sea
A professor can only profess
And finally, anybody can be a scientist.