visitor
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2007 1:06 am

The view of Science

Postby visitor » Tue Jul 31, 2007 1:45 am

Hi Science experts!

Whilst locked in debate in a philosophy forum about the supposed differences between "science", dialogue, rhetoric and various other forms of thinking, I put forward the contention that the scientific method is in fact ubiquitously embedded in all other forms of thinking. Namely hypothesis formulation, eperimental analysis, modification, peer review etc... My felow investigators have suggested though that expert rating systems for example deal with ostensibly subjective markings and thus are "not scientific" and would not be valid as experimental measurements. Likewise thought experiments, suffer from a similar difficulties.

Rather than endlessley row about how scientists think they define themselves, I resolved to simply ask some and google evidently likes you guys.

We would appreciate your opinions in reponse to the following questions:
According to "scientists" -

Does "the method" as inferred from Popper et al specifically require objectivism?

In its most reduced theoretical terms how would you define "the method"?

Do "you" consider that you hold a particular metaphysical position?

How do you categorise "scientists", and who would you specifically exclude from that group?

Many thanks

Craig_Bridge
Former Expert
Posts: 1297
Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2006 11:47 am

Postby Craig_Bridge » Tue Jul 31, 2007 6:23 am

Does "the method" as inferred from Popper et al specifically require objectivism?

One is hard pressed to judge ones own objectivism. Scientific skepticism about what we think we understand objectively is prudent. Sooner or later this tends to happen but it can take hundreds or thousands of years and possibly much longer in some cases.

In its most reduced theoretical terms how would you define "the method"?

People have spent considerable portions of their lives pondering and writing about "the method", to attempt to reduce it is to throw away insight.

Do "you" consider that you hold a particular metaphysical position?

I'm not going there.
How do you categorise "scientists", and who would you specifically exclude from that group??

I'm not going there either.
-Craig

visitor
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2007 1:06 am

Postby visitor » Tue Jul 31, 2007 7:02 am

Thanks Craig

I appreciate this is not the most obvious place to address these questions, but one correspondent had the brass neck to recently quote information directly from this site as "the veiw of scientists", and was met with some derision when another respondent pointed out the main purpose of your excellent website!
I hope you are happy to indulge this intrusion, but by all means we'd be very happy to receive feedback off list if you think some of this might become misleading to your intended target audience.
Current debate has focused on the supposed dogmatic approach of scientists, and an assertion that faith in materialism is no more defensible than faith in the supernatural. As I suspected I see no evidence of any such dogma - you go with what works right?
Two last questions:
Do "scientists" make any assertion as to the "truth" in an absolute sense?
Do "scientists" recognise a conflict between quantum effects and inferred notions of objective reality?

Further comments very welcome.

Louise
Former Expert
Posts: 921
Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2006 2:17 pm

Postby Louise » Tue Jul 31, 2007 9:56 am

visitor wrote:Thanks Craig

I appreciate this is not the most obvious place to address these questions, but one correspondent had the brass neck to recently quote information directly from this site as "the veiw of scientists", and was met with some derision when another respondent pointed out the main purpose of your excellent website!


I think recognizing the purpose and mechanism of this website is very important to your goals. The text outside the forums is an attempt to present the scientific method and tools of inquiry and evaluation to children. The forums are a place to help children who get "stuck" on there projects. The "experts" are all volunteers with many different backgrounds and experience levels. Most of us would classify ourselves as "scientists" or "engineers", I would guess.


Current debate has focused on the supposed dogmatic approach of scientists, and an assertion that faith in materialism is no more defensible than faith in the supernatural. As I suspected I see no evidence of any such dogma - you go with what works right?

I don't know exactly what this current debate is that you mention. I certainly would not classify science as "faith in materialism" and I've never heard science framed that way. If one has those definitions, I'm not sure how one can ever have a discussion between the two groups. [Not that I believe that you have two groups- there are scienitsts who believe in the supernatural, and non-scientist who don't.]

I don't know what "goes with what works" means either. I am trying to understand _how_ things work. It is the process that interests us, not the result. I want to be able to take inputs and predict outputs.

Do "scientists" make any assertion as to the "truth" in an absolute sense?


I cannot speak for all scientists. I believe that we can gain greater and greater understanding in whatever area we are studying, but even the best model is an approximation. Certain models reach a sufficiently good level of approximation that we can apply it very well to make predictions/design technologies. I don't know what absolute truth is. I doubt that you would find any scientist who does. That said, "truth" can be a shorthand for what I said above- a very well-refined and well-tested model.

Do "scientists" recognise a conflict between quantum effects and inferred notions of objective reality?


I don't know what this question means either. We are classical objects living in a classical world. [Note, this very definition is using a approximate model (classical physics vs. quantum physics). Obviously, we experience quantum effects too, but everything we experience can be described by a classical approximation.] Our daily experiences in life give us an intuitive understanding of classical physics because we _live_ it. The framework of quantum mechanics is not intuitive to us, and many people have a visceral reaction to what they think it is saying... "God does not play dice with the universe", etc. But, quantum mechanics is a succesful model, and does predict observable phenonmena. How is that not "objective reality"? It is an important and useful tool for understanding how things work.


Louise

ChrisG
Former Expert
Posts: 1019
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 11:43 am
Occupation: Research Hydrologist

Postby ChrisG » Tue Jul 31, 2007 12:08 pm

Here is my perspective.

visitor wrote:...one correspondent had the brass neck to recently quote information directly from this site as "the view of scientists", and was met with some derision when another respondent pointed out the main purpose of your excellent website!

What was the information? I'm not sure why the purpose of the website would matter. The basic principles of the scientific method are often best taught at the high school level, and there is plenty of scientific expertise here. That said, we don't all agree on every point, and we do find mistakes in the web site.

Current debate has focused on the supposed dogmatic approach of scientists, and an assertion that faith in materialism is no more defensible than faith in the supernatural.
As I suspected I see no evidence of any such dogma - you go with what works right?

As everyday people, or as scientists? Scientists do tend to believe that science is the best approach to learn about our universe. They won't get far trying to cite religious texts to explain their experimental results. Outside of work or the classroom, most scientists would admit that they rely on some non-scientific beliefs and methods.


Do "scientists" make any assertion as to the "truth" in an absolute sense?

Science is based on the premise that there is a single, objective reality. Of course we cannot explain contradictory results, by saying "whoops, i guess you were working in a different reality". At the same time, there is always some uncertainty in our interpretations of reality, and scientists tend to view the world in terms of probabilities.

Do "scientists" recognise a conflict between quantum effects and inferred notions of objective reality?

Are you referring to something like Schrödinger's example of the cat in the box?
http://www.lassp.cornell.edu/ardlouis/d ... hrcat.html
I don't see a conflict between quantum mechanics and the idea of an objective reality.


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