3 of 5
3
Epistemologicaly speaking…what is science?
Posted: 27 December 2007 09:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27
burt - 27 December 2007 01:14 AM

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.

My curmudgeonry is beside the point.

In a way, you are quite correct, that science has no “goal”. By the way, your adjective is spelled “goalless”, and if you were not reading-impaired, you might learn how to spell from all the reading you do. But you are reading-impaired, and it shows, among other ways, in your misunderstandings of the world, which you have been able to learn very little about, apparently. Finally, however, you seem to have discovered something.

The results of science are not the products of “design”. Engineering has the objective of “design”, but not science. Have you “engineered” anything lately, burt? Can you do anything with your hands besides typing jerk-off philosophical nonsense?

 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 December 2007 01:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17
Salt Creek - 27 December 2007 02:23 PM
burt - 27 December 2007 01:14 AM

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.

My curmudgeonry is beside the point.

In a way, you are quite correct, that science has no “goal”. By the way, your adjective is spelled “goalless”, and if you were not reading-impaired, you might learn how to spell from all the reading you do. But you are reading-impaired, and it shows, among other ways, in your misunderstandings of the world, which you have been able to learn very little about, apparently. Finally, however, you seem to have discovered something.

The results of science are not the products of “design”. Engineering has the objective of “design”, but not science. Have you “engineered” anything lately, burt? Can you do anything with your hands besides typing jerk-off philosophical nonsense?

Picky, picky.  You don’t have to be into a design to acknowledge a goal.  I disagree with you: the goal of science is to rationally understand the world. (In this case, rational includes empirical.)  If you would look up from your lab bench for a moment you might get that.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 December 2007 03:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27
burt - 27 December 2007 06:03 PM

Picky, picky.  You don’t have to be into a design to acknowledge a goal.  I disagree with you: the goal of science is to rationally understand the world. (In this case, rational includes empirical.)  If you would look up from your lab bench for a moment you might get that.

Well, fine, burt. But then, you might have taken more care earlier, rather than expressing yourself thusly:

burt - 26 December 2007 01:37 PM

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.

Both are blanket statements describing science, and you cannot seem to decide which one is more convenient for you.

 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 December 2007 07:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17
Salt Creek - 27 December 2007 08:21 PM
burt - 27 December 2007 06:03 PM

Picky, picky.  You don’t have to be into a design to acknowledge a goal.  I disagree with you: the goal of science is to rationally understand the world. (In this case, rational includes empirical.)  If you would look up from your lab bench for a moment you might get that.

Well, fine, burt. But then, you might have taken more care earlier, rather than expressing yourself thusly:

burt - 26 December 2007 01:37 PM

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.

Both are blanket statements describing science, and you cannot seem to decide which one is more convenient for you.

And of course, you can’t see the coherence between them.  If we can’t come to consensus on a theoretical explanation then we don’t think we understand.  Of course, you can ask what it means to understand something scientifically—I would say that it means that we can explain it within a theoretical framework.  That doesn’t mean we have the “truth” about nature, only that we’ve found a description that fits as best we are able to tell.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 December 2007 08:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27
burt - 28 December 2007 12:58 AM

And of course, you can’t see the coherence between them.  If we can’t come to consensus on a theoretical explanation then we don’t think we understand.  Of course, you can ask what it means to understand something scientifically—I would say that it means that we can explain it within a theoretical framework.  That doesn’t mean we have the “truth” about nature, only that we’ve found a description that fits as best we are able to tell.

When one feels capable of designing a suitable experiment to test a theoretical prediction, one feels a kind of “understanding”. If the result of the experiment does not meet with the theoretical prediction, one of two conclusions is possible: The experiment was in error, or the theoretical framework is inadequate. It is a delicate dance to assess when the framework is inadequate, but I believe it has to do with interlaboratory comparison when executing the same protocols. Any use of the word “consensus” beyond this is rather ludicrous. The “lone wolf” researcher who succeeds never remains solitary for long, and does not ever have to cajole others to achieve consensus.

The closest I can come to agreeing with you is to propose that we are satisfied with a theoretical framework that permits us to proceed with further investigation using said framework. When that framework fails, a new one must be devised, but that is far as I will go in saying how we can use the word “understanding” in such a context. The consensus will be that a new theoretical framework must be devised.

If you try to stretch scientific methodology and “consensus” beyond this degree of flexibility, you are most likely attempting to cajole people into abandoning the discipline of interlaboratory comparison.

 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 December 2007 09:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17

error in posting

[ Edited: 28 December 2007 09:16 PM by burt]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 December 2007 09:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17
Salt Creek - 28 December 2007 01:48 AM
burt - 28 December 2007 12:58 AM

And of course, you can’t see the coherence between them.  If we can’t come to consensus on a theoretical explanation then we don’t think we understand.  Of course, you can ask what it means to understand something scientifically—I would say that it means that we can explain it within a theoretical framework.  That doesn’t mean we have the “truth” about nature, only that we’ve found a description that fits as best we are able to tell.

When one feels capable of designing a suitable experiment to test a theoretical prediction, one feels a kind of “understanding”. If the result of the experiment does not meet with the theoretical prediction, one of two conclusions is possible: The experiment was in error, or the theoretical framework is inadequate. It is a delicate dance to assess when the framework is inadequate, but I believe it has to do with interlaboratory comparison when executing the same protocols. Any use of the word “consensus” beyond this is rather ludicrous. The “lone wolf” researcher who succeeds never remains solitary for long, and does not ever have to cajole others to achieve consensus.

The closest I can come to agreeing with you is to propose that we are satisfied with a theoretical framework that permits us to proceed with further investigation using said framework. When that framework fails, a new one must be devised, but that is far as I will go in saying how we can use the word “understanding” in such a context. The consensus will be that a new theoretical framework must be devised.

If you try to stretch scientific methodology and “consensus” beyond this degree of flexibility, you are most likely attempting to cajole people into abandoning the discipline of interlaboratory comparison.

Amazingly enough, I think we do agree, but from opposite ends of the spectrum.  grin  I’m not sure where the “lone wolf” researcher comes from though.  You’re right, there is a delicate dance that goes on.  I get your comment that from an experimental point of view we are satisfied with a theoretical framework that permits further investigation, and that “When one feels capable of designing a suitable experiment to test a theoretical prediction, one feels a kind of ‘understanding’”.  Indeed, that gives me insight into the experimental attitude (something along the lines of “I have some understanding of the nuts and bolts of this because I built the experiment that can test it”).  Thanks, that sentence will show up in one form or another in the next revision of my scientific reasoning course.  The theoretical point of view is both similar and different: I have some understand of this because I have investigated the nuts and bolts (and boiler plate) of the theoretical constructs.  Where the rubber meets the road, of course, is whether or not the theoretical predictions stand up to tests.

[ Edited: 28 December 2007 09:41 AM by burt]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 December 2007 04:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
Newbie
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  40
Joined  2007-12-21
Sib - 27 December 2007 12:52 PM

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?

It sounds like you are appealing to the consequence.  I am more worried about the validity of this argument than the potential it might have in showing that sociology is not a science.

Sib - 27 December 2007 12:52 PM

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

Because this is how science is furthered.  Yes, one can use tools developed in a scientific manner on things which are not scientific subjects themselves.  However this does not mean that a scientific inquiry is occurring.  It means that scientifically developed and tested tools are being used for non-scientific purposes.

What do I mean?  If we use forensic science tools to examine an old book to determine the origin of the paper, ink, and binding - the conclusion is not a scientific one.  It is one which illumines historical inquiry, but not scientific knowledge.

 Signature 

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

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 December 2007 09:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17
ender!krum - 28 December 2007 09:29 PM

What do I mean?  If we use forensic science tools to examine an old book to determine the origin of the paper, ink, and binding - the conclusion is not a scientific one.  It is one which illumines historical inquiry, but not scientific knowledge.

No, the conclusion is scientific, but the it may be used to support something in some other area of study.  As an analogy, you are saying something like the conclusion, based on scientific techniques and theories, that the generation of electro-magnetic radiation of certain wavelengths allows the propagation of information through empty space is not a scientific conclusion since it is used to develop radio technology. 

As I see it, science is a human undertaking that has evolved, and has not yet reached its ultimate state.  Its basic aim is to understand the natural world using human reason.  This means that science changes as we develop new tools and techniques, and discover new ways to avoid error.  Salt Creek can say more about the empirical side of this (the necessity or repeatable experiments, intersubjective agreement on empirical results, and so on).  On the theoretical side we’ve developed criteria such as logical consistency, mathematical representation, probability theory, etc.  Pragmatically, anything that contributes to understanding nature, if it can be symbolically represented, transmitted between individuals, and intersubjectively agreed upon as a method that works will find its way into science.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 December 2007 07:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1485
Joined  2007-12-10

The word “science” literally means search for facts.  If you are doing any methods of inquiry that invovle searching for factual (aka provable) information

Philsophy is something different.  Philsophy means the search for truth, which is NOT the same philsophically speaking as fact.  Truths can be relative to a plane or realm of existence.  Facts are subsets of truths.  As far as I recall, there is only 1 universal truth that must be true in every realm of existence, that being Des Cartes’ famous “cogito ergo sum”.  But that concept is so limited in application to real world understanding within the physical realm, it isn’t worth getting into here.

History is science.  You use the scientific method to understand archeology and paleantology and geology etc.  You use these along with things like chemistry and physics to establish the dates for various bits of information like the carbon dating of an ancient book or artifacts of some old civilization.  You use that data to correlate the findgins with other information from similar regions, time periods, and social condititions.  This is history.  It works by collaborative effots of lots of sciences and mathematics and simple logic steps.  The claim it isn’t scientific is just plain false.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 December 2007 07:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27
tavishhill2003 - 29 December 2007 12:35 PM

History is science.  You use the scientific method to understand archeology and paleantology and geology etc.

This is horse-shit, and you know it, tavishhill. Knowing that the reign of Henry VIII lasted from year X to year Y is a useless bit of trivia. History in general is the recording of events from different places and times and attempting to relate them to each other. Speculating that one event influences another is one thing in physics and quite another in history. Historical analysis attempts to tell us what people were thinking as various historical periods were proceeding. We have writings and other cultural artifacts to support this analysis, but none of them is at all adequate to “explain” by causality most of the details of history. If history were a science, as you proclaim, predicting the future would be on a much firmer basis than it is today. Tell me how European history of the 1840’s explains much at all about today’s European Union.

 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 December 2007 08:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  54
Joined  2007-12-15

So would we say that someone who is trying to determine the dietary intake of Tyrannosaurus Rex is doing science or not? How about someone trying to determine when Australopithicenes went extinct? Or someone investigating the origin of single-celled organisms?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 December 2007 11:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
Newbie
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  40
Joined  2007-12-21
burt - 29 December 2007 02:29 AM

As an analogy, you are saying something like the conclusion, based on scientific techniques and theories, that the generation of electro-magnetic radiation of certain wavelengths allows the propagation of information through empty space is not a scientific conclusion since it is used to develop radio technology.

You misrepresent my position.  Since those wavelengths are “readily available, in an active state” the findings can be subject to “repeatable observation and experimentation.”  This makes the finding scientific.

In contrast, using tools, developed in a scientific manner, on subjects which are not “readily available, in an active state” creates findings which cannot be subject to “repeatable observation and experimentation.”  This does not invalidate the finding - it simply places it outside of the usefulness to scientific inquiry.

 Signature 

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

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 December 2007 05:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17
ender!krum - 30 December 2007 04:08 PM
burt - 29 December 2007 02:29 AM

As an analogy, you are saying something like the conclusion, based on scientific techniques and theories, that the generation of electro-magnetic radiation of certain wavelengths allows the propagation of information through empty space is not a scientific conclusion since it is used to develop radio technology.

You misrepresent my position.  Since those wavelengths are “readily available, in an active state” the findings can be subject to “repeatable observation and experimentation.”  This makes the finding scientific.

In contrast, using tools, developed in a scientific manner, on subjects which are not “readily available, in an active state” creates findings which cannot be subject to “repeatable observation and experimentation.”  This does not invalidate the finding - it simply places it outside of the usefulness to scientific inquiry.

But that is not quite what you said before.  The finding is scientific but its application may well be in a non-scientific field.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 December 2007 10:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1485
Joined  2007-12-10
Salt Creek - 29 December 2007 12:55 PM
tavishhill2003 - 29 December 2007 12:35 PM

History is science.  You use the scientific method to understand archeology and paleantology and geology etc.

This is horse-shit, and you know it, tavishhill. Knowing that the reign of Henry VIII lasted from year X to year Y is a useless bit of trivia. History in general is the recording of events from different places and times and attempting to relate them to each other. Speculating that one event influences another is one thing in physics and quite another in history. Historical analysis attempts to tell us what people were thinking as various historical periods were proceeding. We have writings and other cultural artifacts to support this analysis, but none of them is at all adequate to “explain” by causality most of the details of history. If history were a science, as you proclaim, predicting the future would be on a much firmer basis than it is today. Tell me how European history of the 1840’s explains much at all about today’s European Union.

We find many artifacts telling us about ancient history taht can ONLY be established using things like carbon dating techniques.  We find art that tells us a great deal about the ancient world from a cultural persepctive.  We find tools and instrumentation that tell us a huge deal about the progression of the ancient intellect.  We find early historical texts that tell us about the historocity of our civilizations. 

Yet, NONE of these can be used to justify ANY conclusions about history WITHOUT being able to be certain the proper scientific dating techniques are used first.  You can speculate that they are legit, but to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, science gets the job done.  History is about relating events wtihin our world together, and is does that exclusively by setting the events on timelines.  You can iamgine such a parameter is little more than useless trivia, but without it you are left with a random assortment of events that have ZERO significance to establishing causation. 

If you just threw a huge list of events that leasd to a war on the ground and refused to align them with a time scale of sorts, you have nothing useful whatsoever to gain from that ifnormation.  In other words, you have no basis for establishing history.  You speak of casuation as if it wasn’t ENTIRELY dependent on the time paramter.  You can’t have an event cause another one unless it happens earlier on the timeline than what it is causing. 

You also use the scientific method a lot within history.  For example, when looking at something like casuation…you can have event A lead to event B (a war).  Ok.  But we usually don’t know anything at all about event A from a historical perspective until we study event B.  We see event B and HYPOTHESIZE that there must be a cause for that event and we make the prediction that we will find it if we search through certain logical channels.  What did you imagine historicans were doing when they talk about what would happen when we went into Iraq or prior to any war?  They use prior knowledge of causation, established by a time parameter, and apply those factors of previous causation to modern events to PREDICT what the outcome can be. 

Also, don’t forget what science is philsophically, which is the search for provable facts.  Establishing when and where events happened are facts as is doing the same for the events that lead to them.  History forms hypotheses about casuation all the time and it utilizes all sorts of scienctific discilplines (like archeology which is ENTIRELY a historical science I might add) to establish that crucial timeline of events.  History also makes predictions in its study of past events.  If event A caused event B in the past, and we have near identical scenarios playing out in the future, it can be expected that we have similar outcomes.  And if not, it is due to the need for further investigation into the underlying nature of the past events and the precise causes that lead to event B.

I don’t see what grounds you have to disagree without a completely different definition of either “history” or “science” or both than what I have noted previously.  To me, science is the literal meaning of teh term, which is the search for provable facts.  It involves but isn’t automatically in necessity of, the scientific method.  Hitosry is the act to understand past events and tis application is to use that analysis to understand what is going on in the modern world or more importantly, what WILL go on in the future.  From what I can see, history uses the sceintific method in forming hypotheses based on observations, testing them, and then affirming or reforming that hypothesis properly.  Later on, that information gained from such testing can be applied to predicting the future in some cases. 

You seem to want to throw a fit over predicting the future, but you ought to look a lot harder at your claim on that front.  For starters, you say history sucks at determining predicatbility.  Well, that is a rather absurd claim seeing as human progress is dependent on history be it in the political sense or the technological history of something. 

Maybe you need to distinguish what you mean by history.  I use the dictionary meaning, which is the knowledge of past events.  You seem to want to only mean cultural history, which is a very small subset of history in general.  Sceince DEPENDS on the history of test results to establish predictability.  Cultural history depends on the more obvious scientific discilplines to establish timelines, which are crucial to the study of PAST events, even if you claim otherwise.  So please re-examine your definition of history, as it seems to only want to think about “what ppl were thinking”, which isn’t history at all, but is psychology.  I dunno where you were taught history is the study of what ppl were thinking when they did something…but that is quite a distanced definition from how I’ve seen it defined by numerous historians and by history textbooks.

Profile
 
 
   
3 of 5
3
 
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed