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Epistemologicaly speaking…what is science?
Posted: 26 December 2007 11:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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Sib - 26 December 2007 04:04 PM

I am still trying to figure out what field of study one can apply the scientific method to where it would not be considered the scientific method.

I am still trying to figure out in what fields of study the situation of what one considers is naturally assumed to be what is.

gulp

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Posted: 26 December 2007 11:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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I am still trying to figure out what field of study one can apply the scientific method to where it would not be considered the scientific method.

Ouch! I think you just broke my brain.. Gotta lie down for a while..

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Posted: 26 December 2007 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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Salt Creek - 26 December 2007 03:43 PM

Well, there’s the methodology, as a required part of your definition. Do not try to separate the methodology from the subject matter, because neither one would be possible without the other.

Note that the problems inherent in a subject studying itself are not inconsiderable, mainly due to problems with defining what constitutes ‘repetition’.

Good point.  The methodology used in science does not provide the distinguishing characteristic.  However, this does not mean it isn’t a distinguishing characteristic (gotta love double negatives).  Perhaps there are two prongs in what distinguishes science from other fields - the subject and the method…?

Sib - 26 December 2007 04:04 PM

I am still trying to figure out what field of study one can apply the scientific method to where it would not be considered the scientific method.

I have discovered (both personally and through Dr. Haack’s book) that the various disciplines in science have differing opinions of how the “scientific method” is defined.  Could you provide your definition of it and I will attempt to provide a scenario where such a method could be used in a non-scientific field.

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Theories should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.
-Albert Einstein

I wouldn’t give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity;
I would give my right arm for the simplicity on the far side of complexity.
-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.
-Albert Einstein

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Posted: 26 December 2007 11:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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I am just glad that I am not the only one who seems a bit confused by where this is going.

I really think it would be useful for the person making the assertion to please explain their understanding of the terms they are using so that we are all talking about the same thing.

I am not getting the feeling that ‘science’,‘scientific’, ‘scientific theory’, etc. are being used under their traditional meanings.

It is starting to sound like a layperson conversation on how ‘evolution’ can not be true, which stems from that persons complete misunderstanding (and/or misuse) of ‘evolution’.

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Posted: 26 December 2007 11:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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ender!krum - 26 December 2007 04:30 PM

Could you provide your definition of it and I will attempt to provide a scenario where such a method could be used in a non-scientific field.

No. You are the character here propounding a theory about what the scientific method is or is not. I think you should provide the scenario for the use of the scientific method in a non-scientific field. I think that by the time you are finished with that exercise, you will find that it is time to go read another book from which to obtain your opinions.

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Posted: 26 December 2007 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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ender!krum - 26 December 2007 04:30 PM

I have discovered (both personally and through Dr. Haack’s book) that the various disciplines in science have differing opinions of how the “scientific method” is defined.  Could you provide your definition of it and I will attempt to provide a scenario where such a method could be used in a non-scientific field.

Actually… this is your premise… it is up to you to provide to us the explanation of how you are using these words.

You keep refering to ‘science’ as a field as if it is somehow different from every other field… what is that dividing line to you?  What do you consider to be ‘science’?

You claim that ‘scientific method’ is not unique to science… again, as if science is somehow separate from ‘everything’ else.  This does not make any sence.

Please define your terms.

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Posted: 26 December 2007 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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Sib - 26 December 2007 04:33 PM

It is starting to sound like a layperson conversation on how ‘evolution’ can not be true, which stems from that persons complete misunderstanding (and/or misuse) of ‘evolution’.

And you have to consider the possibility of axes being ground. Or oxes getting gored. Or something.

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Posted: 26 December 2007 12:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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EVERY branch of scientific thought is nothing but a child of philsophical logic. 

For example, thousands of years ago when ancient man would ponder what was going on with the stars and their movement, they began making observations on those movements and documenting them.  Their efforts to document and understand the movement of the stars was scientific in that they created hypothesis to be tested based on those observations.  This was ancient astrology.  Their hypotheses were retarded obviously and their explanations were 95% imagination and 5% actual fact. 

Nevertheless, that discilpline became more and more well documented over the centuries and eventually modern math was being used to make numerical observations of the stars and not long after we had guys like Galileo and Newton and Copernicus and Kepler changing how we thought about astrology.  It was then based in mathematical facts and was the birth of astronomy once we realized the movements had little if any effect on our day to day lives, contrary to what astrologers believe. 

The same thing happened with the study of electromagnetic radiation (visiable light in this case) when ppl once made observations of facts about light and desiced it must be propogating in wave form.  Ppl used to think light was just vibrations within a medium like sound, and hypothesized that there must be a medium, called Ether, that visible light propogated within.  We now know better. 

The same can be found in biology where queries once were purely philsophical and often even theological in nature, now are not.  We have since discovered germs and evolution and whatnot. 

Early man used to think things fell to the earth because God was pushing them downward to keep them from flying off his beautiful creation.  Newton changed that. 

My point is that you guys seem to be going at this discussiong wrong in my opinion.  Science is literally nothing but philosophical queries that have had their factual observations overwhelm early skeptics to become well supported branches of modern study.  The scientific method is nothing more than a method of query within philsophy.  If you want to say something isn’t science, you have to show considerable doubt within that discilpline as to its claims/explanations for what it has observed.  Like astrology.  We no longer think of it as a science because it has yielded no useful results where astronomy has. 

Astrology DOES use some steps in the scientific method however.  So science and the scientific method aren’t automatically tied at the hip depending on how you define the method.  Now, you CAN say that all sciences use the scientific method to their fullest extent where as astrology or other pseudo-sciences do not because they don’t yield repeatable predictions and testing that supports their hypotheses.  So it depends on if you are drawing the line at using parts of the scientific method or at using the whole thing.  Connotatively, we tend to think of science as a branch of philsophy that used all the steps to the method and has yielded successful results applicable to forming more hypotheses and tests. 

So yes, science is NOT the only field that this method is used in as part of the line of reasoning, unless you consider astrology as science.  Also, the method was NOT invented to be part of any field or branch of science, but instead was a natural byproduct of philosophy. 

I offer these definitions:

Science=well developed branch of philsophy that yields testable predictions.  Thes bracnhes utilize the scientific method meticulously and fully.

Not Science=anything branch of philsophical contemplation about observations in the universe that do NOT make full use fo all the steps of the scientific method.  They either use some of them or none of them.  Exampels are astrology, homeopothy, etc.

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Posted: 26 December 2007 12:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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Sib - 26 December 2007 04:37 PM

Actually… this is your premise… it is up to you to provide to us the explanation of how you are using these words.

Scientific Method - Formulate a hypotheses, test said hypotheses by collecting and analyzing information regarding hypotheses, publish findings so others can examine and duplicate inquiry.

Quick example of it not being used in scientific inquiry:
Hypotheses - Napoleon was a contemporary of Thomas Jefferson.
Collect and analyze information - According to Wikipedia Napolean lived between 1769 and 1821.  Jefferson between 1743 – 1826.
Publish findings - Napoleon was a contemporary of Thomas Jefferson.

Sib - 26 December 2007 04:37 PM

You keep refering to ‘science’ as a field as if it is somehow different from every other field… what is that dividing line to you?  What do you consider to be ‘science’?

It is distinguished by both the method used and the subject studied.  “Science is the study of a subject which is readily available, in an active state, for repeatable observation and experimentation.”

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Theories should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.
-Albert Einstein

I wouldn’t give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity;
I would give my right arm for the simplicity on the far side of complexity.
-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.
-Albert Einstein

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Posted: 26 December 2007 12:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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ender!krum - 26 December 2007 05:27 PM

Publish findings - Napoleon was a contemporary of Thomas Jefferson.

Congratulations. Did you observe this, or did somebody else? Is there any point to concluding this? Is it part of a “theory”, for example, that Jefferson’s thinking was influenced by that of Napoleon? Don’t forget that scientific observations are not made in isolation from other observations. You are playing word games again. You like to waste people’s time. Why should anyone take you seriously?

Furthermore, the singular of “hypotheses” is “hypothesis”. If you don’t know this, why should I imagine that you even know what a “hypothesis” is?

[ Edited: 26 December 2007 01:05 PM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 26 December 2007 01:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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ender!krum - 26 December 2007 05:27 PM

Scientific Method - Formulate a hypotheses, test said hypotheses by collecting and analyzing information regarding hypotheses, publish findings so others can examine and duplicate inquiry.

From a quick google search:

Scientific method: the means of science by which phenomena are observed, hypotheses are tested, and conclusions are drawn.

Scientific method: the steps necessary for scientific investigation; 1) the observation of phenomena, 2) the formulation of a hypothesis concerning the phenomena, 3) the development of protocols to test the validity of the hypothesis, 4) experimentation, and 5) a conclusion that supports or modifies the hypothesis

The closest to what you are talking about would be one that rewords the first step:

Scientific method: The scientific method follows a series of steps: (1) identify a problem you would like to solve, (2) formulate a hypothesis, (3) test the hypothesis, (4) collect and analyze the data, (5) make conclusions.

Even with that, your example does not meet the criteria:

Quick example of it not being used in scientific inquiry:
Hypotheses - Napoleon was a contemporary of Thomas Jefferson.
Collect and analyze information - According to Wikipedia Napolean lived between 1769 and 1821.  Jefferson between 1743 – 1826.
Publish findings - Napoleon was a contemporary of Thomas Jefferson.

You have not identified a problem you would like to solve.

You have not made an observation of a phenomenon or problem.

You are simply making a statement and then providing the information that makes you believe that.  That is not scientific method.

Scientific method in candle making:

1) Observation: When I cleaned my mold in hot water, when the water cooled, I noticed that small chunks of palm wax floated on the water.

2) My hypothesis: The density of the palm wax itself is less than the density of water.

3) Design a test to see if that is the case… in this case, add melted wax to see if the wax in liquid form also floats.

4)  Observe and collect data.

Replicate

5a) If the liquid wax also floats, conclude that based on the current level of knowledge, the wax seems to have a lower density than water.  Do more testing to adjust for more variables.

5b) If the liquid does not float, revise hypothesis.

2b) The density of the liquid wax as it hardens will be effected by the air and will make the hardened wax have a density lower than water…

Rinse, repeat.

Scientific method starts with observation and a question…

Now.. if you observed that there was a document written by Napoleon to Jefferson, you could apply the scientific method to gather evidence as to whether or not this was legitimate.

Observation: Napoleon was supposed to have written a letter to Jefferson.
Hypothesis: Napoleon was a contemporary of Jefferson.
Test your hypothesis, gather your data and conclude that the letter COULD have been written to Jefferson by Napoleon because they were indeed contemporaries… continue investigating.

That would be an application of scientific method in the field of history.  But history is not by default NOT scientific.  It is a field within science if the scientific method is used.

It is distinguished by both the method used and the subject studied.  “Science is the study of a subject which is readily available, in an active state, for repeatable observation and experimentation.”

I bolded your definition of science… none of which excludes history, by your own example.  If you disagree, then I guess you do not consider anthropology and archeology a science.  Which most anthropologists and archaeologists would disagree with.

History has letters and verbal evidence the same way that archeology has fossils and midden piles.

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Posted: 26 December 2007 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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Ummm…history is MOST DEFINITELY a field of science.

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Posted: 26 December 2007 08:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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Salt Creek - 26 December 2007 01:50 PM
burt - 26 December 2007 01:37 PM

What I realized was that in the humanities (including history) people do not think that any debate will have a definite conclusion.  Nobody believes that there is a single “best” interpretation of Hamlet, and so on.  The purpose of debates in the humanities is different, it is to gain deeper understanding and appreciation.  In the sciences, on the other hand, we assume that there is a way that nature is, and so the goal of debates is to come up with a consensus agreement—this is our best description at the moment of how nature operates.

The statement I emphasized here is intended to twist someone else’s opinion about how science operates, and it exposes your bias in the matter. You are addressing an interesting aspect of what happens when it is necessary to revise theory, and what happens when people attempt to interpret the implications of a theory far beyond what the theory is intended to explain. No one pretends that the interpretation of theory actually has any goal. Interpretation of theory is not science, but philosophy, and since you are good at that (and are self-confessed to be all thumbs in the laboratory), you hope to achieve some fame with interpretation. You will have company, lots and lots of it, consisting of people who vary a lot in their laboratory skills.

Inter-laboratory comparison does not have a “goal”. What is discovered in inter-laboratory comparison is that the methodology of experimental procedures is capable of resulting in inter-laboratory agreement. When it is not, methodology inevitably improves. Methodology without the possibility of inter-laboratory comparison is not considered scientific methodology. You don’t much like this, but there it is.

Well, gee Salt Creek, no wonder you’re such a curmudgeon, spending your life on a goaless pursuit.  Oh, wait, I guess it does pay the bills.

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Posted: 27 December 2007 06:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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Sib - 26 December 2007 06:22 PM

Observation: Napoleon was supposed to have written a letter to Jefferson.
Hypothesis: Napoleon was a contemporary of Jefferson.
Test your hypothesis, gather your data and conclude that the letter COULD have been written to Jefferson by Napoleon because they were indeed contemporaries… continue investigating.

That would be an application of scientific method in the field of history.  But history is not by default NOT scientific.  It is a field within science if the scientific method is used.

You make my premise, that the “scientific method” can be applied to other disciplines, better than I did.  Thank you.

It appears that we still disagree on the conclusion, that the type of subject involved is as important as the type of methodology used when defining science.  Take the above example.  In order for it to be a scientific inquiry, one would have to be able to observe and examine firsthand (and as many times as desired), Napoleon writing the letter, the letter being delivered, and Jefferson reading the letter.  To be truly scientific, one would also be able to interact and change some of the variables to see if anything changes the outcome, again as many times as desired.

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Theories should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.
-Albert Einstein

I wouldn’t give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity;
I would give my right arm for the simplicity on the far side of complexity.
-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.
-Albert Einstein

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Posted: 27 December 2007 07:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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ender!krum - 27 December 2007 11:54 AM

You make my premise, that the “scientific method” can be applied to other disciplines, better than I did.  Thank you.

You are being disingenuous…. if you apply the scientific method, you are doing science…

In order for it to be a scientific inquiry, one would have to be able to observe and examine firsthand (and as many times as desired), Napoleon writing the letter, the letter being delivered, and Jefferson reading the letter.  To be truly scientific, one would also be able to interact and change some of the variables to see if anything changes the outcome, again as many times as desired.

Where are you getting this impression that you must be able to observe and examine something firsthand in order for it to be ‘science’?

You AGAIN conveniently ignore the part that does not fit into your premise… is archeology not science?  Is the study of fossils and midden piles not science?  Anthropology?  Sociology? All of these are scientific disciplines… unless you are saying that someone studying fossils has to be able to ‘observe and examine firsthand (and as many times as desired)’ the organisms mommy having sex with the organisms daddy, the organism being delivered and the bear eating the organism and the mudslide that covers the bones to be fossilized.

That YOU for confirming MY suspicion that you are working from a misunderstanding of what science and scientific method actually are.

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