“In science, the guesses are theories, and the criticism is tests.”
A guess or hunch is a hypothesis. If it passes the tests, then it can be called a theory.
This might be just a terminology issue. But it might not be. So I’ll explain assuming that its more than a terminology issue.
All hypotheses are created before they are tested, often decades before we have the necessary technology in order to test them. Einstein’s theories were like this. Before Einstein’s theories were tested, do you think we shouldn’t have called them theories and instead we should have labelled them as hypotheses? What is the purpose of that?
The reality is that Einstein’s theories will be tested again in the future, and possibly be shown to be flawed (analogously to how Newton’s theories are now known to be flawed). We still call Newton’s theories as theories, even though we know they are flawed. Should we strip away its status of theory?
I think you are thinking that having the label theory means something substantial. I disagree. If a theory is tested using an experiment, and if the theory passes the test, that doesn’t mean that the theory is true. Its possible that in the future someone discovers that a human error was committed during the experiment. Or that the experiment was badly designed and so it actually doesn’t test the theory. Or that the test was fine but a future test will refute the theory. So, in these situations, does theory then lose its “theory” status? Using your idea, the “theory” status would be stripped away. But, in the future, someone could discover that the previous guy was wrong about the human error in the experiment, or that the previous guy was wrong about the experiment being badly designed, or that the future guy was wrong about his future experimental refutation of the theory. So in these cases, does the theory then get its “theory” status back? If so, whats the point of taking away and adding and taking away the status of “theory” each time that something like this happens? Also, note that there will not be 100% consensus on these issues. So some people will believe the truth of the theory will others will not. In these cases, how do we know whose right in order to know whether we should use the status of “theory” or not?
A better way to handle this is with the words true and false. Every hypothesis is a theory. And that theory is (currently) either true or false. The theory is criticized by the creator of the theory and by other people. And then he and others criticize those criticisms. And if the theory still holds up against the criticism, the theory is considered true, for now. At this point, the scientific theory can be tested with physical evidence (this is a type of criticism). And the experimenter and others will criticize the tests. And if the theory still holds up, then its considered true, for now. In the future, someone might create a new criticism and the cycle continues. So, at any point in time where the theory is unrefuted, we label it true. And at any other point in time where the theory is refuted, we label it false. And we can’t know these things in advance.
For example, for 400 years Newton’s theory of gravity was unrefuted. But then Einstein refuted it. Right now Einstein’s theory of gravity is unrefuted. One day someone might refute it.
It might help to introduce the terms Objective Truth and Conjectural Truth. An objective truth is a truth about reality. A conjectural truth is a theory that is currently unrefuted. It *might* be an objective truth, or it might not be. We don’t know. We *can’t* know. This is the nature of our knowledge, because we are fallible. We can’t know which of our conjectural truths are objective truths. So, with a currently unrefuted theory, we call it a conjectural truth. It could be refuted in the future. Or it may not be.
No. My efforts are genuine. It is common for people to think that about me though. Its a mistake. Conventionally people use the terms “over-thinking” or “over-analyzing” in reference to how I approach certain problems.
If there aren’t 99 problems, each in need of their own form of knowledge, you and your buddies would have significantly fewer e-mails to write
A lot of the emails are people going back and forth trying to understand each others’ ideas. Some discussions are 1 email. Some are 10 back and forth. I’ve seen some over 200 back and forth. And many discussions turn into tangent topics (i.e. new discussions). Some discussions go on for months. Some discussions are active for a few weeks, then dead for months, then active again. All the while the goal is clarity in understanding. Clarity is crucial for learning.
and relentlessly promoting your website would lose its fun. I wish you happiness in your endeavors since that is the best that your efforts have any hope of achieving.
By my efforts, I have achieved a great deal. Few have learned as much as I have.
Judging by this and your recent posts, I think you’re assuming that philosophical discussion cannot result in creation of knowledge. That is false.
Do you think my article is worthy of the label of “knowledge” or not?
I’m reminded of a post I wrote when I first started on the Popperian philosophy lists. It was about how people think there is such a thing as over-thinking/over-analyzing. This discussion helped me learn why people think that way. It helped me learn the psychology of others.
Oh and if you think I’m being obtuse, I think that if you saw some of my posts from a year ago, you wouldn’t think that my recent activity is obtuse. Like this one:
> If [constructor theory] turns out to be wrong, the chances are it will be found to be wrong long before it’s falsified. This again is the typical way in scientific theories. What gets the headlines is if you do an experiment and you predict a certain particle, and it doesn’t appear, and then you’re proved wrong, but actually the overwhelming majority of scientific theories are proved wrong long before they ever get tested. They’re proved wrong by being internally inconsistent or being inconsistent with other theories that we believe to be true, or most often they’re proved wrong by not doing the job of explanation that they were designed to do. So if you have a theory that is supposed to, for example, explain the second law of thermodynamics, and why there is irreversibility when the fundamental laws of physics are reversible, and then you find by analyzing this theory that it doesn’t actually do that, then you don’t have to bother to test it, because it doesn’t address the problem that it was designed to address. If constructor theory turns out to be false, I think it’s overwhelmingly likely that it will be by that method that it just doesn’t do this unification job or foundational job that it was designed to do.
> Then we would have to learn the lesson of how it turned out to be wrong. Turning out to be wrong is not a disgrace. It’s not like in politics where if you lose the election then you’ve lost. In science, if your idea that looked right turns out to be wrong, you’ve learned something.
> One of the central philosophical motivations for why I do fundamental physics is that I’m interested in what the world is like; that is, not just the world of our observations, what we see, but the invisible world, the invisible processes and objects that bring about the visible. Because the visible is only the tiny, superficial and parochial sheen on top of the real reality, and the amazing thing about the world and our place in it is that we can discover the real reality.
> We can discover what is at the center of stars even though we’ve never been there. We can find out that those cold, tiny objects in the sky that we call stars are actually million-kilometer, white, hot, gaseous spheres. They don’t look like that. They look like cold dots, but we know different. We know that the invisible reality is there giving rise to our visible perceptions.
> That science has to be about *that* has been for many decades a minority and unpopular view among philosophers and, to a great extent, regrettably even among scientists. They have taken the view that science, just because it is characterized by experimental tests, has to be only about experimental tests, but that’s a trap. If that were so, it would mean that science is only about humans and not even everything about humans but about human experience only. It’s solipsism. It’s purporting to have a rigorous objective world view that only observations count, but ending up by its own inexorable logic as saying that only human experience is real, which is solipsism.
> I think it’s important to regard science not as an enterprise for the purpose of making predictions, but as an enterprise for the purpose of discovering what the world is really like, what is really there, how it behaves and why. Which is tested by observation. But it is absolutely amazing that the tiny little parochial and weak and error-prone access that we have to observations is capable of testing theories and knowledge of the whole of reality that has tremendous reach far beyond our experience. And yet we know about it. That’s the amazing thing about science. That’s the aspect of science that I want to pursue.
But understanding language as limited abstraction used to communicate vast amounts of information implies something lost in translation.
The coining of phrases like “more real than reality” should raise awareness of how language and the mind construct metaphors referring to associations and prior experiences.
The images and representations the mind creates if interpreting mathematical models beyond the abstraction of mechanics behind motion we perceive as existence, are images and representations founded on stored fractions of input from experiences. The invisible world, or distant stars beyond the known, are the product of a creative re-arrangement of stored input from experience. The more real than reality is the simply the the same single reality molded into thought of own subjective preference and acceptance.
Science infused with logical necessities as supporting claim of reality beyond reality itself, should awaken the obvious skeptic approach as mentioning the scientific method in relation to areas where the scientific method does not operate.
To understand that which is not understood, know the unknown, depends on regarding belief as valid evidence equal to all other. To put faith in the system of abstract signs correlating to segments of mechanics seemingly representing a kind of order in chaos, and seek confidence in truth of system created to serve as tool , wishing math could replace the experience and be more than just a product possible depending on prior experience.
Even so I fully understand what you try to tell. The is something magical about the thought of hypothesis of reality of such mysterious wonder pulling you towards. Being amazed is what gives cause to life, reason to what could be mistaken for lacking. Perhaps I reject my own thoughts, and support your better case.
I don’t have much of a problem with scientists as the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge,
actually (though it’s a rather maudlin way of putting it, and I feel guilty for picturing Hawking slumping in his chair saying it through his computer voicebox—bearers of the torch, this is I suppose, figurative). I can’t blame Hawking for being interested in physics.
But I don’t think that Hawking can offer any insight into whether or not there is a God, for example, based on empirical data.