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Is The Un-falsifiability Doctrine An Evolutionist Ploy?


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#1 de_skudd

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 11:11 AM

I find it odd that pseudo-science has gone to great lengths to protect their tabernacle of enshrined evolution. One such firewall they have erected is their Un-falsifiability doctrine. On one web page, I found this statement: “Being disprovable is one essential component of any scientific theory.” And even at this board I find statements like “You can't prove anything scientifically - that's just a contradiction in terms.”, and “Bear in mind that scientists are not interested in absolute proof - it can never be obtained.”.

Now, before I ask the obvious questions, I will place this disclaimer: I believe, through a lifetime of inductive experimentation, study in logic, philosophy and yes “common sense”, that the Un-falsifiability doctrine is retoric and propaganda. So I shall supply my label for that term, to which I define in the “Greek vernacular” “Poppycockus”! If I am wrong, I will admit it!!!

Having said that, I ask; Does anyone in this forum really believe that science cannot prove anything? More succinctly; is the Un-falsifiability doctrine an evolutionist ploy?

If so why? If not why?

And this is not a debate open for equivocation, quibbling, prevarication, evasion, hedging or vague, ambiguous and misleading language. You need to back up your statements with facts!

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 07:43 PM

Having said that, I ask; Does anyone in this forum really believe that science cannot prove anything? More succinctly; is the Un-falsifiability doctrine an evolutionist ploy?

I think the answer depends strongly on what is meant or understood by 'proof'.

Proofs like Euclid's proof of theorems by logic from a small number of postulates does not apply in science.
One reason is that science is not restricted to a limited arena, for instance where parallel lines never meet. It has to deal with space with curvature.
Induction is also not reliable. Who knows where they will find the next black swan?
We can not prove the universe was not created last night.

It does not mean that science is wrong, but application may be more limited than initially expected. Newtonian physics needs to be modified for high speeds and large gravitational fields.
Conservation of mass has to be replaced with conservation of mass-energy.
Many of the ideas of classical physics have to be abandoned when quantum effects apply.
More generally, our intuition and 'common sense' always needs to be checked very carefully by comparison with experiment to make sure we are thinking along the right lines.
I also think we should not be too pedantic in demanding proof. For instance, I think radio-active dating methods give reliable results, when applied carefully on good samples. That to me establishes that the earth has been here for about 4.5 billion years.

#3 Bruce V.

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 09:36 PM

I think the answer depends strongly on what is meant or understood by 'proof'.

Proofs like Euclid's proof of theorems by logic from a small number of postulates does not apply in science.
One reason is that science is not restricted to a limited arena, for instance where parallel lines never meet.  It has to deal with space with curvature.
Induction is also not reliable.  Who knows where they will find the next black swan?
We can not prove the universe was not created last night.

It does not mean that science is wrong, but application may be more limited than initially expected.  Newtonian physics needs to be modified for high speeds and large gravitational fields.
Conservation of mass has to be replaced with conservation of mass-energy.
Many of the ideas of classical physics have to be abandoned when quantum effects apply.
More generally, our intuition and 'common sense' always needs to be checked very carefully by comparison with experiment to make sure we are thinking along the right lines.
I also think we should not be too pedantic in demanding proof.  For instance, I think radio-active dating methods give reliable results, when applied carefully on good samples.  That to me establishes that the earth has been here for about 4.5 billion years.

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Hi Kieth.

You are a very good poster and you make me think. Glad you part of this board.

Bruce

#4 CTD

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 12:24 AM

This doctrine is a specified form of you-can't -knowism. I think you-can't-knowism is just appealing for a lot of people. People who are fond of you-can't-knowism will naturally gravitate toward antisciences.

It's hard to say without delving into history. Our society influences us whether we want it to or not, and without acknowledging the influence one cannot counteract it. Inspecting societies where evolutionism was unknown, I am confident you-can't-knowism would be found to have existed independently, although it wouldn't be so prevalent because it wouldn't be pushed.

That does not entirely dq the doctrine as a ploy. To my knowledge they didn't invent circular reasoning or most logical fallacies. They didn't invent playing stupid, or any of a dozen other ploys. The question is: if these folks weren't evolutionists, would they be pushing the doctrine anyhow? I expect the answer would vary from person to person.

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 12:44 AM

The question of whether anything at all can be known as certain has been puzzling philosophers for millennia. Plato discussed shadows on the wall of a cave, Descartes set out on the noble quest of doubting everything he possibly could - and found himself incapable of doubting only his existence and ability to think, and even in pop culture the film The Matrix asks the same question.

It's not scientific bluster, it's an admission of human limitations. No matter how much you want to, you can't know ANYTHING for sure.

Science accepts this limitation with a rueful shrug and goes merrily about the business of describing what we see, whether it's actually real or not.

#6 CTD

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 01:26 AM

It's not scientific bluster, it's an admission of human limitations. No matter how much you want to, you can't know ANYTHING for sure.

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I know for sure there's someone who doesn't want me knowing anything. From this I deduce that I exist. Someone exists. We communicate. There are things to know.

#7 Ron

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 02:44 AM

It's not scientific bluster, it's an admission of human limitations. No matter how much you want to, you can't know ANYTHING for sure.

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After sifting through all of that, you did finally say what you really thought there. So, if I have this correct, you're saying no absolutes can be proven?

#8 de_skudd

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 05:45 AM

The question of whether anything at all can be known as certain has been puzzling philosophers for millennia. Plato discussed shadows on the wall of a cave, Descartes set out on the noble quest of doubting everything he possibly could - and found himself incapable of doubting only his existence and ability to think, and even in pop culture the film The Matrix asks the same question.

It's not scientific bluster, it's an admission of human limitations. No matter how much you want to, you can't know ANYTHING for sure.

Science accepts this limitation with a rueful shrug and goes merrily about the business of describing what we see, whether it's actually real or not.

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So, if I told you how to conduct a few simple inductive (repeatable, observable) experiments that would provide empirical evidence of absolute proof, you would recant the above statements?

#9 de_skudd

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 06:01 AM

I think the answer depends strongly on what is meant or understood by 'proof'.

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To get beyond the hype, equivocation and fluff, we have to strip away the minutia and pabulum that attempt to clutter the discourse, and get right down to the crucible!

So, how’s this for a definition that you will accept?

1. Conclusive evidence: evidence or an argument that serves to establish a fact or the truth of something.
2. Test of something: a test or trial of something to establish whether it is true.
3. The state of having been proved: the quality or condition of having been proved.

Or, more direct; to provide the absolute and unyielding evidence of proof using the empirical scientific method. If I can do this, will I have proven that science can, in fact, prove things?

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 11:16 AM

So, if I told you how to conduct a few simple inductive (repeatable, observable) experiments that would provide empirical evidence of absolute proof, you would recant the above statements?

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Yes, I absolutely would.

#11 de_skudd

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 12:19 PM

So, if I told you how to conduct a few simple inductive (repeatable, observable) experiments that would provide empirical evidence of absolute proof, you would recant the above statements?

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Yes, I absolutely would.

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Okay, but I’ll not allow any equivocating now!



This will be officially labeled “Overture’s Butane lighter Flame to Palm Experiment” **And will be strictly controlled!!**

The items you’ll need for this highly sophisticated scientific experiment =

1 each (serviceable) Bic © butane lighter (or any other brand)

1 each bare (unencumbered by gloves or ANY other shielding device) human hand (yours, so that you cannot deny the outcome).

1 each digital or analogue stop watch

1 each “digital” video camera with all the lighting, connections and cables (and fully charged battery) to allow for internet hook-up and recording (so that you cannot deny the outcome).

1 each assistant to help with the experiment.

1 each tub of ice water

1 roll of gauze bandages

1 each note pad and pen

1 each mode of transportation to the local emergency room



Instructions:

Step#1 Set up camera to record incident (I mean experiment) (use auto focus feature and decent lighting).

Step#2 Hold exposed hand, with fingers fully extended and joined, palm down, and arm directly in front of your body fully extended and joined at shoulder level.

Step#3 Have camera trained on your hand with complete hand (from wrist to fingertip) in frame.

Step#4 Have assistant turn on camera, and depress record button (insuring camera is recording incident… I mean experiment).

Step#5 Have assistant place butane lighter (working end upward, toward your exposed palm) one inch from your exposed palm, directly under the center of your exposed palm and light the lighter.

Step#6 Have assistant keep flame lit and in position for exactly 120 seconds, without you moving your hand from over the flame, or the assistant moving the flame from its position as described above.

Step#7 After the 120 seconds of the flames direct exposure to your unprotected hand, check for the following outcome (this is where I predict what happens);

A- Your eyes with be more than moist to over flowing with a liquid secretion.
B- The flesh of your exposed (and experimented upon) hand will display redness, blistering and burnt flesh.
C- The flesh of your exposed (and experimented upon) hand may smell bad/strange.
D- You will display the need to rapidly envelop you hand in the tub of ice water due to pain (don’t do this yet, because this experiment involves induction!!).

Step#8 Record findings

Step#9 Repeat steps 1 – 8 thirty times

Step# 10 Convert digital video to format that can be linked to this forum to display results.

Step# 11 Insure you have recorded your “recanting of your previous incorrect statements”.


Test number two will be labeled “Overture’s Sharp Box-cutter Blade to Wrist Experiment”

Test number three will be labeled “Overture’s Rusty Ice Pick into Pupil Experiment”
We’ll give you time to heal up before providing instructions for the next two tests.

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 12:26 PM

We’ll give you time to heal up before providing instructions for the next two tests.

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Interesting, if juvenile.

I was hoping you actually had something to talk about.

#13 de_skudd

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 12:29 PM

An interesting methodology, but you don't seem to have a hypothesis.

Perhaps you need someone to explain the scientific method to you?

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I understand the scientific method. I also understand that you don’t want to back up your words with actions…

The methodology was made to the level of your accusation…


P.S. The hypothesis is quite obvious (as it was intended to be), are you saying you don’t understand it?

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 12:37 PM

I understand the scientific method. I also understand that you don’t want to back up your words with actions…

The methodology was made to the level of your accusation…
P.S. The hypothesis is quite obvious (as it was intended to be), are you saying you don’t understand it?

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I understand that you are attempting to show that, should I place a lighter to my hand, I would perceive pain, and that my hand burned. However, this fails to address the fundamental question of whether or not I can trust that my perceptions are an accurate reflection of the universe.

I'm not trying to be confrontational here. Nor am I trying to be rude, I'm simply observing that this is a major philosophical problem that has been thought about for ages without anyone coming to a satisfactory resolution.

If you want to have a philosophical debate, I'm game. If you want to be a jackass have fun on your own.

Edit: And since you have not only taken an attitude, but also called someone a cuss word. You are banned for it.

#15 de_skudd

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 12:50 PM

I understand that you are attempting to show that, should I place a lighter to my hand, I would perceive pain, and that my hand burned. However, this fails to address the fundamental question of whether or not I can trust that my perceptions are an accurate reflection of the universe. 

I'm not trying to be confrontational here. Nor am I trying to be rude, I'm simply observing that this is a major philosophical problem that has been thought about for ages without anyone coming to a satisfactory resolution.

If you want to have a philosophical debate, I'm game. If you want to be a jackass have fun on your own.

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I’m not being confrontational Overture, I just stating facts. To deny these facts is a case of being rude, or infantile, or ignorant.

At this point, you’re denying the fact (proof/truth) that you’d be in pain, and your hand would be burnt, and you WOULD seek medical attention. All fundamental facts that any competent child would acknowledge, and would do themselves, and yet you ARE attempting to equivocate (as I predicted you would). I gave you an experiment in reality, and you are attempting to hide behind philosophy to deny it’s reality!

This fails no fundamental philosophical tenants, except for the unproven thoughts of a solipsist. I gave you a test for a satisfactory solution, and you failed to grasp it.

If you think calling me names to rid yourself of that denial, so be it. And if you want to say I don’t understand the scientific method because I won’t ascribe your pseudo-philosophy to that empirical scientific method, you’re mistaken again.

#16 de_skudd

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 12:56 PM

P.S. I have no problem with debating philosophy Overture. But, seeing that we were discussing inductive science, your solipsist philosophy won’t fly because it is defeated by inductive science every time.

#17 CTD

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 01:06 PM

I understand that you are attempting to show that, should I place a lighter to my hand, I would perceive pain, and that my hand burned. However, this fails to address the fundamental question of whether or not I can trust that my perceptions are an accurate reflection of the universe. 

You can and do trust them. You trust what you've already learned, and acknowledge it.

I'm not trying to be confrontational here. Nor am I trying to be rude, I'm simply observing that this is a major philosophical problem that has been thought about for ages without anyone coming to a satisfactory resolution.

I thought you were satisfied with claiming you can't know.

If you want to have a philosophical debate, I'm game. If you want to be a jackass have fun on your own.

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So "philosophical" = imaginary
"Jackass" = real ?

One problem with vain philosophies is that they insist one must throw out what one already knows.

"I think therefore I am." Everyone already knows this. The joker who asks you to deny that you exists is a liar. He acknowledges your existence by the very act of asking. You don't ask nothing if it exists.

Throwing out everything you already know is a policy of death. The spider who accepts the suggestion will have to start all over again, and will starve to death long before establishing the technique for constructing a web. It's even worse if the spider is conned into the "prove it for 100% absolute certain to the standard of an adversarial, fauxstupid scoffer with no concern for anything but avoiding truth" game.

Shoot, prove your heart needs to beat to that standard. And do it quickly, because you have to abandon all knowledge until the scoffer admits defeat. Oh, dead already? Well, I could've told you. See what you get for playing their game?

By the time one is old enough to encounter vain philosophies, one will already have accumulated quite a bit of knowledge. People are born knowing more than meets the eye, and the very young learn so fast nobody can even describe it properly. The capacity to learn diminishes considerably with age. A man starting at age 20 would be dead before he could relearn everything he learned in the first 20 years of his life (a break-even goal). So it's impossible to beat the house playing this game.

"I know nothing - nuh-think!" is for Sgt. Schultz to say. The rest of us, we do best to acknowledge that we do know a thing or two. It isn't arrogance - it's honesty.

Beyond knowledge, what's needed is the capacity to demonstrate and explain what we know to others. It's good if we can tell another how we know what we know, so they can know it also. But if there's a way to explain something so that nobody can turn around and lie and claim not to understand it, I have not discovered that way.*

Now I think there's an abundance of information on this forum for anyone who is seeking the truth. It's really overkill. Just about everyone I know had less to go on, sciencewise. More and more evidence just keeps piling up, and more holes in the polywrong stories keep turning up all the time. One rarely witnesses such lopsided contests. Closest thing I can think of would be some of the bad Superbowls; but they were still probably more competitive than this - they only seemed equally bad because of expectations.

*But I have to admit one idea sounds promising: “Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned.” (Avicenna)

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#18 de_skudd

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 01:09 PM

You can and do trust them. You trust what you've already learned, and acknowledge it.

I thought you were satisfied with claiming you can't know.
So "philosophical" = imaginary
"Jackass" = real ?

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Careful CTD, you can't prove you said any of that!

And you may be "= real too!"

#19 Bruce V.

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 01:10 PM

I think the answer depends strongly on what is meant or understood by 'proof'.

Proofs like Euclid's proof of theorems by logic from a small number of postulates does not apply in science.
One reason is that science is not restricted to a limited arena, for instance where parallel lines never meet.  It has to deal with space with curvature.
Induction is also not reliable.  Who knows where they will find the next black swan?
We can not prove the universe was not created last night.

It does not mean that science is wrong, but application may be more limited than initially expected.  Newtonian physics needs to be modified for high speeds and large gravitational fields.
Conservation of mass has to be replaced with conservation of mass-energy.
Many of the ideas of classical physics have to be abandoned when quantum effects apply.
More generally, our intuition and 'common sense' always needs to be checked very carefully by comparison with experiment to make sure we are thinking along the right lines.
I also think we should not be too pedantic in demanding proof.  For instance, I think radio-active dating methods give reliable results, when applied carefully on good samples.  That to me establishes that the earth has been here for about 4.5 billion years.

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Theories like the first law of thermodynamic, classical physics and quantum physics are testable and have a predictive element to them. We can set an experiment that either proves or disproves the theory.

The problem with evolution is that it does not have much predictive power and is therefore hard to disprove. In the common decent thread it discussed what gene sequencing relieved:

These complete genome sequences have revealed several complexities that Darwinian evolutionary theory did not anticipate. Four of these will be discussed here: the major role played by transfer of genes from one species to another as opposed to inheritance from ancestors; the fact that bacterial species do not evolve solely in a random fashion, but show a bias toward deletion of genetic material; the discovery that much of the portions of the genome that do not code for proteins is not “junk DNA” but in fact has a critical function; and the observation that expression of genes is controlled by regulatory circuits that are as complicated and as precisely arranged as the most sophisticated engineering diagrams.


Evolutionary theory should have guided researchers to make these discoveries, but in fact the opposite seams true: changes were made in evolutionary theory after the fact to account for these findings. IMO evolution theory has not added much in leading scientist to new discoveries but rather it takes credit for new findings after the fact.

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 01:16 PM

I’m not being confrontational Overture, I just stating facts. To deny these facts is a case of being rude, or infantile, or ignorant.


Irony in its purest form. :)

At this point, you’re denying the fact (proof/truth) that you’d be in pain, and your hand would be burnt, and you WOULD seek medical attention.


I'm not trying to deny that this is what I would perceive, but I would have no evidence outside of my own perception. That is the fundamental limitation of this exercise, indeed any exercise. That we can only speak about our perception of things, not necessarily the things in and of themselves.

All fundamental facts that any competent child would acknowledge, and would do themselves, and yet you ARE attempting to equivocate (as I predicted you would).  I gave you an experiment in reality, and you are attempting to hide behind philosophy to deny it’s reality!


I notice that creationists are fond of accusing evolutionists of 'equivocation', but you almost invariably use the word incorrectly. To equivocate is to deliberately misuse language in order to confuse or mislead, and this is not what I'm doing. I'm merely pointing out the philosophical inconsistencies in your argument. This is very different from equivaction.

This fails no fundamental philosophical tenants, except for the unproven thoughts of a solipsist. I gave you a test for a satisfactory solution, and you failed to grasp it. 


What it does is reveal you as an objective materialist. You believe that the universe you perceive is the universe that actually exists and that your perceptions are an accurate reflection thereof. That's fine, and is a perfectly acceptable way to live and is indeed the way I live my life from day-to-day (and why I'm not going to engage in your experiment) but you can't prove this in any philosophically conclusive manner, since any analogy or experiment you describe will rely on perception as its proof.




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