Jump to content


Photo

Empirical Evidence & Inference


  • This topic is locked This topic is locked
18 replies to this topic

#1 aelyn

aelyn

    Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 383 posts
  • Age: 30
  • no affiliation
  • Atheist
  • Denver, Colorado

Posted 20 February 2012 - 04:45 PM

Hello all !

I've seen a number of posts where people asked for "empirical evidence", by which they seem to mean experimental evidence only, and seemed to imply that anything else is "inference" and thus unscientific.

To quote Gilbo in the "My Question" thread, where I think he expressed it best :

By empirical, I use the dictionary definition- guided by experiment, (thus implying direct observation, repeatability, falsification as conditional characters to the definition of empirical). Furthermore, how was the hypothesis of the evidence tested in a laboratory?


That this disqualifies a large number of sciences from deserving the name is apparently a feature, as those aren't real sciences at all. (I think Gilbo called them "social sciences" somewhere (sorry if I'm misremembering), which has just occurred to me is strange because some social sciences actually do tons of experiments)

So if I may ask a few questions here that I can't get answered elsewhere :

- Why in your opinion is direct, repeatable, falsifiable experimentation so important in science ? What is its function ?
- Why doesn't making predictions of what future observations will yield and then making those observations, thus confirming or disconfirming the prediction, serve a similar function ?
- Was pre-20th-century astronomy a science ? I ask this because as far as I can tell it doesn't fit those criteria for "empirical evidence", yet it's generally considered one of the harder sciences.

Thank you all for your time.

#2 gilbo12345

gilbo12345

    Veteran Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,000 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Completed BBiotech (Honours)

    Currently studying Masters of Teaching.

    Enjoys games of tactics and strategy.
  • Age: 25
  • (private)
  • Creationist
  • Australia

Posted 20 February 2012 - 05:28 PM

Hello all !

I've seen a number of posts where people asked for "empirical evidence", by which they seem to mean experimental evidence only, and seemed to imply that anything else is "inference" and thus unscientific.

To quote Gilbo in the "My Question" thread, where I think he expressed it best :


That this disqualifies a large number of sciences from deserving the name is apparently a feature, as those aren't real sciences at all. (I think Gilbo called them "social sciences" somewhere (sorry if I'm misremembering), which has just occurred to me is strange because some social sciences actually do tons of experiments)

So if I may ask a few questions here that I can't get answered elsewhere :

- Why in your opinion is direct, repeatable, falsifiable experimentation so important in science ? What is its function ?
- Why doesn't making predictions of what future observations will yield and then making those observations, thus confirming or disconfirming the prediction, serve a similar function ?
- Was pre-20th-century astronomy a science ? I ask this because as far as I can tell it doesn't fit those criteria for "empirical evidence", yet it's generally considered one of the harder sciences.

Thank you all for your time.


Yes there are many forms of science, one class is "experimental science". This form of science is the one people normally think of regarding the scientific method, physics, chemistry, biology etc. Experimental science is built on the back of empirical evidence, which is the foundation of the scientific method.


Yes there are other sciences that do not use empirical evidence, however these sciences normally do not hold the same level of authority as the experimental sciences do, this is due to the lack of empirical evidence.

Lets look at archeology for instance- basically it is people who look at ancient things and then decide what may have happened. This is a form of "historical science", however such ideas for what may have happened are constructs of a person's imagination... We have no idea wether that event or whatever did occur. It is accepted solely on the basis of it seeming logical, however all throughout history things that seem logical have turned out to be false, (this is due to our limited sight of the big picture of what was going on)

-People used to claim that we were the centre of the universe, why? Because you can look out and see the sun and stars circling around us. Therefore it is logical to deduce (just from that observation) that we are the centre, because we are the point that the universe (apparently) rotates around...

This has been proven false, only because we learnt more about the big picture.

- It was logical in Darwin's time to claim that cells were blobs of jelly, however we now know that this is not true.



Hence someone looking at a bone or pottery fragment and thinking up some explanation has no grasp on what the truth is, hence (I feel) its validity is lacking. This is why empirical evidence is so much more reliable since you can observe the phenomenon occurring, you can test it to see if it does what you claim it does, you can repeat it over and over...

In terms of evolution this is possibly the biggest misconception of all. Scientists claim that evolution is scientific and that it is a "fact", they attribute the same reliability of the experimental sciences with evolution, despite the fact (bad pun), that evolution doesn't have empirical evidence like all other experimental sciences. It is historical science which as I have shown is not as reliable, however if evolutionists were to admit that in schools people would doubt evolution, and we can't have that can we ;)


"As just stated, experimental tests may lead either to the confirmation of the hypothesis, or to the ruling out of the hypothesis. The scientific method requires that an hypothesis be ruled out or modified if its predictions are clearly and repeatedly incompatible with experimental tests. Further, no matter how elegant a theory is, its predictions must agree with experimental results if we are to believe that it is a valid description of nature. In physics, as in every experimental science, "experiment is supreme" and experimental verification of hypothetical predictions is absolutely necessary.
Experiments may test the theory directly (for example, the observation of a new particle) or may test for consequences derived from the theory using mathematics and logic (the rate of a radioactive decay process requiring the existence of the new particle). Note that the necessity of experiment also implies that a theory must be testable. Theories which cannot be tested, because, for instance, they have no observable ramifications (such as, a particle whose characteristics make it unobservable), do not qualify as scientific theories."

http://teacher.nsrl..../AppendixE.html
  • goldliger likes this

#3 aelyn

aelyn

    Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 383 posts
  • Age: 30
  • no affiliation
  • Atheist
  • Denver, Colorado

Posted 20 February 2012 - 07:00 PM

Yes there are many forms of science, one class is "experimental science". This form of science is the one people normally think of regarding the scientific method, physics, chemistry, biology etc. Experimental science is built on the back of empirical evidence, which is the foundation of the scientific method.

I'm afraid none of what you say further down answers any of the specific questions I asked (except for the bit you quote at the end which kind of addresses the first question, but asserts the importance of experimentation more than it explains why). The first two I can understand might take some work, so how about the astronomy one ? It is generally considered an authoritative science, and it it certainly one of those people normally think of regarding science. Is it or not ?

Moreover, while you don't mention astronomy once in your list of experimental sciences and historical sciences, you do say this :

-People used to claim that we were the centre of the universe, why? Because you can look out and see the sun and stars circling around us. Therefore it is logical to deduce (just from that observation) that we are the centre, because we are the point that the universe (apparently) rotates around...

This has been proven false, only because we learnt more about the big picture.

What experiment proved it false ? (Actually I can think of a few experiments but if I'm to trust Wikipedia they seem to all have happened after people knew the Earth rotated already)

"As just stated, experimental tests may lead either to the confirmation of the hypothesis, or to the ruling out of the hypothesis. The scientific method requires that an hypothesis be ruled out or modified if its predictions are clearly and repeatedly incompatible with experimental tests. Further, no matter how elegant a theory is, its predictions must agree with experimental results if we are to believe that it is a valid description of nature. In physics, as in every experimental science, "experiment is supreme" and experimental verification of hypothetical predictions is absolutely necessary.
Experiments may test the theory directly (for example, the observation of a new particle) or may test for consequences derived from the theory using mathematics and logic (the rate of a radioactive decay process requiring the existence of the new particle). Note that the necessity of experiment also implies that a theory must be testable. Theories which cannot be tested, because, for instance, they have no observable ramifications (such as, a particle whose characteristics make it unobservable), do not qualify as scientific theories."


Non-experimental observations can also confirm or rule out a hypothesis. They're less convenient but that's a purely practical matter. So what's wrong with them ?

#4 gilbo12345

gilbo12345

    Veteran Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,000 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Completed BBiotech (Honours)

    Currently studying Masters of Teaching.

    Enjoys games of tactics and strategy.
  • Age: 25
  • (private)
  • Creationist
  • Australia

Posted 20 February 2012 - 07:41 PM

1. I'm afraid none of what you say further down answers any of the specific questions I asked (except for the bit you quote at the end which kind of addresses the first question, but asserts the importance of experimentation more than it explains why). The first two I can understand might take some work, so how about the astronomy one ? It is generally considered an authoritative science, and it it certainly one of those people normally think of regarding science. Is it or not ?

Moreover, while you don't mention astronomy once in your list of experimental sciences and historical sciences, you do say this :

2. What experiment proved it false ? (Actually I can think of a few experiments but if I'm to trust Wikipedia they seem to all have happened after people knew the Earth rotated already)

[/b]

3. Non-experimental observations can also confirm or rule out a hypothesis. They're less convenient but that's a purely practical matter. So what's wrong with them ?


You've cut alot of my post out.

1. I have shown you how science is not just one and the same there are 2 types. Experimental which is naturalistic science and is empirical, and historical science which makes ad hoc explanations for observations, which may or may not be tenable.


In terms of astronomy can you observe or test a phenomena or its effects in real time, being able to measure it and repeat if necessary. If so, then yes it is an experimental science. If it makes ad hoc guesses as to what x, y and z are with no experiments in real time to confirm said predictions then it is a historical science.




2.

Firstly if we were the centre of the universe that would mean that the centre would be in contant flux since we are rotating around the sun...

Secondly, if the BB were true then the centre should have nothing there as it "exploded" out and thus push all the matter out. Therefore if we are the centre of the universe then the BB is wrong.

Thirdly that the observations with which we had originally based that claim on are now false since the Earth rotates on its own accord, rather than have everything revolve around us instead.

Fourthly you already knew of some experiments so I don't know why you are asking me for more- (I'm a Biologist)

Perhaps I spoke out of turn as I have read that no-one knows where the centre is. However point 3 validates what I am attempting to show. People can be wrong in their assertions because they may not be seeing the whole picture.

3. Yes they can rule out a hypothesis, that is totally different to confirming one, since you would need verification to ensure that it is indeed a claim about reality, rather than an imagined concept.

#5 aelyn

aelyn

    Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 383 posts
  • Age: 30
  • no affiliation
  • Atheist
  • Denver, Colorado

Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:06 PM

You've cut alot of my post out.

Yes. It was a general treatise on empirical evidence and science, not an actual answer to the questions I'd asked. I'd asked those specific questions because I wanted an answer to them.

1. I have shown you how science is not just one and the same there are 2 types. Experimental which is naturalistic science and is empirical, and historical science which makes ad hoc explanations for observations, which may or may not be tenable.

This does nothing to answer either why experimental science is necessary, or why prediction/observation can't serve the same purpose, or whether pre-20th-century astronomy was a science.

In terms of astronomy can you observe or test a phenomena or its effects in real time, being able to measure it and repeat if necessary. If so, then yes it is an experimental science. If it makes ad hoc guesses as to what x, y and z are with no experiments in real time to confirm said predictions then it is a historical science.

Thank you for that answer. But what do you mean, repeat it ? How to you repeat an astronomical phenomenon ? Do you mean repeating observations ?

2.

Firstly if we were the centre of the universe that would mean that the centre would be in contant flux since we are rotating around the sun...

Secondly, if the BB were true then the centre should have nothing there as it "exploded" out and thus push all the matter out. Therefore if we are the centre of the universe then the BB is wrong.

Thirdly that the observations with which we had originally based that claim on are now false since the Earth rotates on its own accord, rather than have everything revolve around us instead.

The early geocentric cosmology and Big Bang cosmology have nothing at all in common. Not even the concept that the Earth is at the center of the Universe.

Fourthly you already knew of some experiments so I don't know why you are asking me for more- (I'm a Biologist)

Fair enough :) What actually happened is that I wrote that, and then on re-reading I thought "Duh ! Foucault's Pendulum !". But I thought that was a lot more recent than Copernicus so I checked Wikipedia, which gave a few ways of experimentally showing the Earth's rotation, but all of them were done a long time after people already knew the Earth rotated, so the real question of how people first realized the Earth rotated without experiments is still open. Unless of course there are other experiments I missed.

3. Yes they can rule out a hypothesis, that is totally different to confirming one, since you would need verification to ensure that it is indeed a claim about reality, rather than an imagined concept.

So experiments can verify a theory but observations can't ? Why ? Of course I'm not talking about observations that were used to elaborate the theory in the first place (just like you don't use experiments you used to elaborate a theory to verify it). (and thanks for this answer to question 2)

#6 gilbo12345

gilbo12345

    Veteran Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,000 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Completed BBiotech (Honours)

    Currently studying Masters of Teaching.

    Enjoys games of tactics and strategy.
  • Age: 25
  • (private)
  • Creationist
  • Australia

Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:36 PM

1. Yes. It was a general treatise on empirical evidence and science, not an actual answer to the questions I'd asked. I'd asked those specific questions because I wanted an answer to them.


2. This does nothing to answer either why experimental science is necessary, or why prediction/observation can't serve the same purpose,

3. or whether pre-20th-century astronomy was a science.


4. Thank you for that answer. But what do you mean, repeat it ? How to you repeat an astronomical phenomenon ? Do you mean repeating observations ?


5. The early geocentric cosmology and Big Bang cosmology have nothing at all in common. Not even the concept that the Earth is at the center of the Universe.



6. So experiments can verify a theory but observations can't ? Why ? Of course I'm not talking about observations that were used to elaborate the theory in the first place (just like you don't use experiments you used to elaborate a theory to verify it). (and thanks for this answer to question 2)

1. It was an answer, I guess you just didn't like it

2. Can you read what you are asking? lol. You do realise how Karl Popper revolutionized science, since before him all science was inference-based, since how can we KNOW that we have the right answer, this is where falsifiability and empirical evidence comes in. To ensure that science is indeed correct, rather than "seeming correct at the time".

3. I was hoping you would work out the astronomy question yourself, I gave you all the parameters you need.

4. You can repeat your experiments = repeatable

5. I was posting stuff that refutes the principle solely out of LOGIC, hence what you claim is irrelevant. If the BB explodes out creating space then as everything moves out then the centre should be empty... This is just looking at the situation and deriving the conclusion logically.

6. Yes because observations are not falsifiable, experiments are. We can only see things in a limited scope hence how do we know that we are seeing the full picture, (hence my analogy of people seeing the sun and stars going around the Earth, I could have just as easily used the fact that back in Darwins time everyone though it was logical, from observation, that our cells are just blobs of jelly. We now know that this is not the case)

#7 goldliger

goldliger

    Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 230 posts
  • Age: 38
  • Christian
  • Young Earth Creationist
  • Minnesota

Posted 21 February 2012 - 05:10 AM

"As just stated, experimental tests may lead either to the confirmation of the hypothesis, or to the ruling out of the hypothesis. The scientific method requires that an hypothesis be ruled out or modified if its predictions are clearly and repeatedly incompatible with experimental tests. Further, no matter how elegant a theory is, its predictions must agree with experimental results if we are to believe that it is a valid description of nature. In physics, as in every experimental science, "experiment is supreme" and experimental verification of hypothetical predictions is absolutely necessary.
Experiments may test the theory directly (for example, the observation of a new particle) or may test for consequences derived from the theory using mathematics and logic (the rate of a radioactive decay process requiring the existence of the new particle). Note that the necessity of experiment also implies that a theory must be testable. Theories which cannot be tested, because, for instance, they have no observable ramifications (such as, a particle whose characteristics make it unobservable), do not qualify as scientific theories."

http://teacher.nsrl..../AppendixE.html



Great points Gilbo...

The quote above actually raises a question about star formation theory, a debate I'm having over on another forum. So I'm interested in getting the popular consensus from others... Can astronomers *legitimately* conclude that they have empirical evidence OF star formation, based on computer models and mathematics (which are based on universal laws of physics)?

I would say not, simply because we obviously cannot observe and replicate the WHOLE postulated process of nebula to fully formed star IN REAL TIME. However the 'argument' is that mathematical experiments and computer models validate the theory - so basically that they are the substitution for the "real thing". And the above definition mentions mathematics and logic experiements. So, do they have any case for empiricism in this specific example? ...Or would star formation fall under the *unobservable* because we cannot observe the entire postulated process (even IF their claims of being able to see early star formations, etc., are valid and true)?

Thanks for your thoughts.

#8 aelyn

aelyn

    Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 383 posts
  • Age: 30
  • no affiliation
  • Atheist
  • Denver, Colorado

Posted 21 February 2012 - 06:17 AM

2. Can you read what you are asking? lol. You do realise how Karl Popper revolutionized science, since before him all science was inference-based, since how can we KNOW that we have the right answer, this is where falsifiability and empirical evidence comes in. To ensure that science is indeed correct, rather than "seeming correct at the time".

Right. And you agreed that observations can rule out a hypothesis, i.e. falsify it. So does observing things outside of the controlled environment of a laboratory count as experimental science too ?

3. I was hoping you would work out the astronomy question yourself, I gave you all the parameters you need.

lol. I'm asking you whether you think astronomy is a science or not and you hope I'll "work out the question for myself" ? If I were a mind-reader I wouldn't have started this thread in the first place. Seriously man, it's a yes or no question.

4. You can repeat your experiments = repeatable

But we were talking about astronomical observations. Do you mean that observations count as experiments ?

5. I was posting stuff that refutes the principle solely out of LOGIC, hence what you claim is irrelevant. If the BB explodes out creating space then as everything moves out then the centre should be empty... This is just looking at the situation and deriving the conclusion logically.

When you talked about people falsely thinking the Earth is at the center of the Universe I assumed you were talking about the erroneous conclusions people arrived at in ancient times because they didn't do empirical science. What I would like to know is what empirical science convinced the first people who realized the Earth is rotating. Or were they doing non-empirical science too ? If so, what is the relevance of your analogy ?
To answer that question the Big Bang is completely irrelevant, and talking about how we've re-interpreted those first observations on the basis of the Earth rotating is begging the question.

6. Yes because observations are not falsifiable, experiments are. We can only see things in a limited scope hence how do we know that we are seeing the full picture, (hence my analogy of people seeing the sun and stars going around the Earth, I could have just as easily used the fact that back in Darwins time everyone though it was logical, from observation, that our cells are just blobs of jelly. We now know that this is not the case)

An experiment isn't falsifiable, a hypothesis (or theory) is. An experiment falsifies the hypothesis or theory. And you said yourself that observations can rule out a hypothesis; how is that different from falsifying it ? And that we only see things in a limited scope is a limitation of observation but isn't relevant to its falsifying power; experiments have the exact same issue. We can't experiment on everything.

#9 gilbo12345

gilbo12345

    Veteran Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,000 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Completed BBiotech (Honours)

    Currently studying Masters of Teaching.

    Enjoys games of tactics and strategy.
  • Age: 25
  • (private)
  • Creationist
  • Australia

Posted 21 February 2012 - 07:23 AM

1. Right. And you agreed that observations can rule out a hypothesis, i.e. falsify it. So does observing things outside of the controlled environment of a laboratory count as experimental science too ?


2. lol. I'm asking you whether you think astronomy is a science or not and you hope I'll "work out the question for myself" ? If I were a mind-reader I wouldn't have started this thread in the first place. Seriously man, it's a yes or no question.


3. But we were talking about astronomical observations. Do you mean that observations count as experiments ?


4. When you talked about people falsely thinking the Earth is at the center of the Universe I assumed you were talking about the erroneous conclusions people arrived at in ancient times because they didn't do empirical science. What I would like to know is what empirical science convinced the first people who realized the Earth is rotating. Or were they doing non-empirical science too ? If so, what is the relevance of your analogy ?
To answer that question the Big Bang is completely irrelevant, and talking about how we've re-interpreted those first observations on the basis of the Earth rotating is begging the question.


5. An experiment isn't falsifiable, a hypothesis (or theory) is.

6. An experiment falsifies the hypothesis or theory. And you said yourself that observations can rule out a hypothesis; how is that different from falsifying it ? And that we only see things in a limited scope is a limitation of observation but isn't relevant to its falsifying power; experiments have the exact same issue. We can't experiment on everything.

Right. And you agreed that observations can rule out a hypothesis, i.e. falsify it. So does observing things outside of the controlled environment of a laboratory count as experimental science too ?


lol. I'm asking you whether you think astronomy is a science or not and you hope I'll "work out the question for myself" ? If I were a mind-reader I wouldn't have started this thread in the first place. Seriously man, it's a yes or no question.


But we were talking about astronomical observations. Do you mean that observations count as experiments ?


When you talked about people falsely thinking the Earth is at the center of the Universe I assumed you were talking about the erroneous conclusions people arrived at in ancient times because they didn't do empirical science. What I would like to know is what empirical science convinced the first people who realized the Earth is rotating. Or were they doing non-empirical science too ? If so, what is the relevance of your analogy ?
To answer that question the Big Bang is completely irrelevant, and talking about how we've re-interpreted those first observations on the basis of the Earth rotating is begging the question.


An experiment isn't falsifiable, a hypothesis (or theory) is. An experiment falsifies the hypothesis or theory. And you said yourself that observations can rule out a hypothesis; how is that different from falsifying it ? And that we only see things in a limited scope is a limitation of observation but isn't relevant to its falsifying power; experiments have the exact same issue. We can't experiment on everything.


Dude do you know what you are saying, I'm sorry if I sound rude, but it seems that you should double check what you write :)



1. "Experimental science" now look "Experimental".... Derived from experiment. Observation alone doesn't prove anything- lets look at say similarities between living things.

You'd claim this as evidence of evolution, I'd claim it as evidence of common designer... One one can be right, how do we know? We cannot know because we cannot put our assertions of the observation to the test. This is why it is important to test claims, not just assume that because it "sounds" right that it is right... I had already shown you examples where that assumption was made and it was wrong.

2. Its not yes or no since, firstly I am not an astrologist, and secondly there would be some things that are empiricaly proven and some that are based on imagination... (Just like how Biology for the most part is empirical, except for the "theory" of evolution), hence it would depend on what part/s of astronomy you are talking about.

Furthermore such a question is a red herring since it has no actual purpose here.

3. Can you read what you are saying? No observations are not experiments- experiments are experiments.

4. I don't know of the first empirical evidence that convinced people that the world isn't the centre of the universe. I only used it as an analogy... IF you feel that I am incorrect and that Earth is the centre of the universe then here is another we can refer to instead, (in other words totally disregard my previous analogy)..

In Darwin's time it was logical to conclude, (from observation not tests), that cells are just blobs of jelly- we now know that this is not the case.
People assumed that bacteria "evolving" resistance to antibiotics was due to evolution "creating" resistances... This was an assumption since tests done on bacteria that existed in the gut of a human explorer who was frozen before drugs were used, were resistant to a variety of drugs. (This depicts why it is important to TEST things and not assume that you have the correct answer)


5. Are you serious!!! When you design an experiment you make a hypothesis to see what you expect will happen, you also write a null hypothesis that is what you expect will happen if your hypothesis is wrong (falsifying it)... IF something totally different happens then that means that you're hypothesis and null hypothesis were wrong and that you require more experimentation to see what happened and why.

To falsify something is to show unequivocally that it is wrong, you can falsify experiments. That is a part of the scientific method, since if you cannot falsify the results from an experiment then you have no basis with which to conclude that your results are correct... DO you understand this?

6. Hang on! We were talking about if observations can VERIFY a theory. This is a sleight of hand

" So experiments can verify a theory but observations can't ? Why ? Of course I'm not talking about observations that were used to elaborate the theory in the first place (just like you don't use experiments you used to elaborate a theory to verify it). (and thanks for this answer to question 2)" post#5

Some observations can falsify a claim, like if I said that Earth had a 2nd moon and we observed that there isn't then that falsifies my claim. However this is because my claim is not about speculating some distant past, it is talking about the current day, hence it isn't an ad hoc claim that is un-provable. Perhaps I was wrong when I said observations are not falsifiable, I should have said that observations about an ad hoc claim are unfalsifiable, since it is "after the fact".

#10 gilbo12345

gilbo12345

    Veteran Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,000 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Completed BBiotech (Honours)

    Currently studying Masters of Teaching.

    Enjoys games of tactics and strategy.
  • Age: 25
  • (private)
  • Creationist
  • Australia

Posted 21 February 2012 - 07:24 AM

Great points Gilbo...

The quote above actually raises a question about star formation theory, a debate I'm having over on another forum. So I'm interested in getting the popular consensus from others... Can astronomers *legitimately* conclude that they have empirical evidence OF star formation, based on computer models and mathematics (which are based on universal laws of physics)?

I would say not, simply because we obviously cannot observe and replicate the WHOLE postulated process of nebula to fully formed star IN REAL TIME. However the 'argument' is that mathematical experiments and computer models validate the theory - so basically that they are the substitution for the "real thing". And the above definition mentions mathematics and logic experiements. So, do they have any case for empiricism in this specific example? ...Or would star formation fall under the *unobservable* because we cannot observe the entire postulated process (even IF their claims of being able to see early star formations, etc., are valid and true)?

Thanks for your thoughts.


Thanks :D Its a shame that none of this quote was mentioned in the reply before...

and to answer your question, I have no idea ;)

#11 aelyn

aelyn

    Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 383 posts
  • Age: 30
  • no affiliation
  • Atheist
  • Denver, Colorado

Posted 21 February 2012 - 08:52 AM

Dude do you know what you are saying, I'm sorry if I sound rude, but it seems that you should double check what you write :)

I am not "saying" anything, I am asking questions to understand your position.

1. "Experimental science" now look "Experimental".... Derived from experiment. Observation alone doesn't prove anything- lets look at say similarities between living things.

You said that observations can rule out a hypothesis. "Ruling out" and "falsifying" mean the same thing. You brought up Popper and how falsifiability is vital to science. But I see now you wrote "falsifiability and empirical science", and did not actually say they were connected as I had thought... So could you please clarify whether experimentation is important just because it allows to falsify theories, or if there is an additional reason ?

2. Its not yes or no since, firstly I am not an astrologist, and secondly there would be some things that are empiricaly proven and some that are based on imagination... (Just like how Biology for the most part is empirical, except for the "theory" of evolution), hence it would depend on what part/s of astronomy you are talking about.

That's an amusing typo. And you aren't a physicist or archeologist either yet you have no problem calling the first an experimental science and the second a less-reliable historical science. I see from replies lower down that when you said I had "all the elements" to answer the question, you were saying that insofar as astronomy is an empirical science by your definition it is, and insofar as it isn't it isn't. I can't dispute that because scientific fields do have many different elements, but it doesn't answer my question at all so I've got a more concrete example lower down.

Furthermore such a question is a red herring since it has no actual purpose here.

Excuse me if I decide for myself the purpose of the questions I myself am asking in a thread I started. I explained the purpose of this question when I asked it - I am trying to figure out what your criteria for empirical science actually cover. And astronomy is an interesting case because it's generally considered as unambiguous a science as science gets, yet most of its conclusions were come to by observation and theory more than experimentation.

3. Can you read what you are saying? No observations are not experiments- experiments are experiments.

You said in post# 4 : "In terms of astronomy can you observe or test a phenomena or its effects in real time, being able to measure it and repeat if necessary."
I asked you in post# 5 to clarify what you meant, because I don't see how astronomical phenomena are repeatable. Let's take a concrete example : determining the orbits of planets. Those were worked out by observing that planets move, elaborating theories of how they planets move, working out from those theories what kinds of movements should be observed in the planets in the future, and observing the planets to check that the those predictions were correct. Is this experimentation ? Were the astronomers determining the orbits of planets doing historical science ?
And when I asked whether observations counted as experiments it wasn't a rhetorical question; in some sense I can see such astronomical observation being called an experiment. After all you're making a prediction of what you should find if you set up your telescope in a specific way in a specific direction at a certain time and look through it, then setting the things up that way and seeing if you see what was predicted. Much like predicting what you should see if you set up a vacuum chamber with an apple and a feather dropping inside, then checking that you do in fact see that.

4. I don't know of the first empirical evidence that convinced people that the world isn't the centre of the universe. I only used it as an analogy... IF you feel that I am incorrect and that Earth is the centre of the universe then here is another we can refer to instead, (in other words totally disregard my previous analogy)..

You specifically set up that analogy as a bad way to do science - but if the people who discovered the Earth isn't at the center of the Universe were also doing bad science, then that puts into question your criteria for bad science. And unless you can explain exactly what the difference was between the way people decided that cells were blogs of jelly, and those who realized that wasn't the case, then that analogy is just as bad. What tests determined that cells aren't just blobs of jelly ? Wikipedia has a very basic timeline of research on cells, and the earliest date they have after Darwin published is 1931 with the invention of the electron microscope, which allowed to see organelles. Is this an invalid method of seeing whether cells contain organelles or not ? Is it a test or an observation ? How about the earlier scientists looking at cells through optic microscopes that weren't strong enough to resolve their internal structure, were they doing tests or observations ?

5. Are you serious!!! When you design an experiment you make a hypothesis to see what you expect will happen, you also write a null hypothesis that is what you expect will happen if your hypothesis is wrong (falsifying it)... IF something totally different happens then that means that you're hypothesis and null hypothesis were wrong and that you require more experimentation to see what happened and why.

We agree on this, I was just correcting your typo that an experiment is falsifiable. Experiments aren't falsifyable, hypotheses are. Experiments falsify them.
What you still haven't addressed is that observations can falsify hypotheses too. You make a prediction of what observations you expect to make in what context, you define a null hypothesis of what observations you expect to make if the hypothesis is wrong, you make the observations and check whether they matched the prediction or not.

To falsify something is to show unequivocally that it is wrong, you can falsify experiments. That is a part of the scientific method, since if you cannot falsify the results from an experiment then you have no basis with which to conclude that your results are correct... DO you understand this?

Oh so it wasn't a typo... You're using the words wrong. The results of an experiment are the results of the experiment. They falsify a hypothesis or not, but you can't falsify them. The results of one experiment can be contradicted by the results of other experiments, but "falsified" only applies to hypotheses.

6. Hang on! We were talking about if observations can VERIFY a theory. This is a sleight of hand

On whose part ? You talked about verification (post# 4), I asked more about verification (post# 5), then your reply was all about how experiments are falsifiable (post# 6). You can't have missed this since you quote my own post about verification yourself below. I'm trying to understand your position, so I respond to what you say.

" So experiments can verify a theory but observations can't ? Why ? Of course I'm not talking about observations that were used to elaborate the theory in the first place (just like you don't use experiments you used to elaborate a theory to verify it). (and thanks for this answer to question 2)" post#5

Some observations can falsify a claim, like if I said that Earth had a 2nd moon and we observed that there isn't then that falsifies my claim. However this is because my claim is not about speculating some distant past, it is talking about the current day, hence it isn't an ad hoc claim that is un-provable. Perhaps I was wrong when I said observations are not falsifiable, I should have said that observations about an ad hoc claim are unfalsifiable, since it is "after the fact".

I think it would be more accurate to say that observations that were used to elaborate the claim cannot then verify or falsify it, since they are as you point out "after the fact". But then do you agree that novel observations can be used to falsify claims ?

#12 gilbo12345

gilbo12345

    Veteran Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,000 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Completed BBiotech (Honours)

    Currently studying Masters of Teaching.

    Enjoys games of tactics and strategy.
  • Age: 25
  • (private)
  • Creationist
  • Australia

Posted 21 February 2012 - 08:25 PM

I feel like I should withdraw it seems that the conversation of this thread has changed from inference to observations, (somewhere in post 5), all my claims about observations were based on the inference based observations, whereby we observe a phenomena and then make up an ad hoc explanation, yet there is no verification for such since it is ad hoc. There are empirical observation, like observing an experiment or directly observing something, like the absence of a second moon.


"As just stated, experimental tests may lead either to the confirmation of the hypothesis, or to the ruling out of the hypothesis. The scientific method requires that an hypothesis be ruled out or modified if its predictions are clearly and repeatedly incompatible with experimental tests. Further, no matter how elegant a theory is, its predictions must agree with experimental results if we are to believe that it is a valid description of nature. In physics, as in every experimental science, "experiment is supreme" and experimental verification of hypothetical predictions is absolutely necessary. Experiments may test the theory directly (for example, the observation of a new particle) or may test for consequences derived from the theory using mathematics and logic (the rate of a radioactive decay process requiring the existence of the new particle). Note that the necessity of experiment also implies that a theory must be testable. Theories which cannot be tested, because, for instance, they have no observable ramifications (such as, a particle whose characteristics make it unobservable), do not qualify as scientific theories."


From this there is NO reason why scientific theories can exist on inference alone. Empirical evidence is required, however for ad hoc claims there are no empirical evidence since it is based on the assumption that the model proposed is the correct model of reality. (Just like how people proposed that cells were blobs of jelly).

For example, how can you empirically test that Jesus died on the cross? How can you empirically test what I ate 4 years ago?

Any claims about the ancient past are inferred, and cannot be fully verified by scientific investigation, (they can however by Historic investigation),
since in order to have a scientific investigation it needs to be based on the assumption that the model itself is correct in order to make predictions about what would occur.

#13 aelyn

aelyn

    Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 383 posts
  • Age: 30
  • no affiliation
  • Atheist
  • Denver, Colorado

Posted 22 February 2012 - 10:07 AM

I feel like I should withdraw it seems that the conversation of this thread has changed from inference to observations, (somewhere in post 5), all my claims about observations were based on the inference based observations, whereby we observe a phenomena and then make up an ad hoc explanation, yet there is no verification for such since it is ad hoc. There are empirical observation, like observing an experiment or directly observing something, like the absence of a second moon.


So you agree that if a hypothesis makes predictions of what kinds of things will be observed, that hypothesis is falsifiable and observations that match or contradict those predictions can serve to test the hypothesis ?

If so my next question would be what kind of observations you think count, because you have repeatedly insisted in this and other threads that only “real-time” processes could be tested, but if one has a hypothesis that a past event occurred and this hypothesis predicts this event should have left specific traces that can be observed in the present, then observing those traces and seeing whether they match or contradict the hypothesis should be a test of the hypothesis. “Post-hoc” isn't bad when it involves observations of past events (indeed all astronomical observations are observations of “past events”, by a few minutes at least), it's bad when it involves using observations that were used to elaborate the theory to confirm the theory. But if an observation was unknown at the time the theory was elaborated, then using it to confirm the theory isn't post-hoc reasoning, however old the thing being observed is.


"As just stated, experimental tests may lead either to the confirmation of the hypothesis, or to the ruling out of the hypothesis. The scientific method requires that an hypothesis be ruled out or modified if its predictions are clearly and repeatedly incompatible with experimental tests. Further, no matter how elegant a theory is, its predictions must agree with experimental results if we are to believe that it is a valid description of nature. In physics, as in every experimental science, "experiment is supreme" and experimental verification of hypothetical predictions is absolutely necessary. Experiments may test the theory directly (for example, the observation of a new particle) or may test for consequences derived from the theory using mathematics and logic (the rate of a radioactive decay process requiring the existence of the new particle). Note that the necessity of experiment also implies that a theory must be testable. Theories which cannot be tested, because, for instance, they have no observable ramifications (such as, a particle whose characteristics make it unobservable), do not qualify as scientific theories."
From this there is NO reason why scientific theories can exist on inference alone. Empirical evidence is required, however for ad hoc claims there are no empirical evidence since it is based on the assumption that the model proposed is the correct model of reality. (Just like how people proposed that cells were blobs of jelly).

You have given no evidence that the people proposed that cells were blobs of jelly because they were doing inference instead of looking at empirical evidence, nor have you given any evidence that people changed their minds on it because they were looking at empirical evidence instead of inference. This is the second analogy on the same subject you refuse to explain.

I ask because it would be helpful to understanding what the difference between “inference” and “empirical evidence” is to you. As far as I can tell it isn't an either/or, inference is always used in science. Making predictions is a process of inference, you infer the consequences of a theory. And only then can empirical evidence (whether experimental or observational) be used to test the theory.

Like with “observation” you seem to be using “inference” not to mean inference in general, but to mean post-hoc reasoning. This is just confusing and makes it hard to understand what you mean when you talk about “inference” being a bad thing.

For example, how can you empirically test that Jesus died on the cross? How can you empirically test what I ate 4 years ago?

How about you address the actual scientific examples I brought up before going so far afield ?

But in general, questions about the past can be tested by considering which traces they should have left in the present and which they shouldn't, and then seeing whether observations of the present match that. Some past events leave no traces or only ambiguous ones that could have many different causes; those events are hard to impossible to test. But many events do leave traces. And the more we understand about the world, the better we are at knowing what those traces would be and finding them. If you really want mundane examples of that, look at criminal forensics.

Any claims about the ancient past are inferred, and cannot be fully verified by scientific investigation, (they can however by Historic investigation),
since in order to have a scientific investigation it needs to be based on the assumption that the model itself is correct in order to make predictions about what would occur.

Using a model to elaborate predictions to confirm the model is “assuming the model is correct” in the same sense that proving a theorem by the absurd in maths is “assuming the theorem is false”. In other words it's technically true but trivial and has no implications on whether the model or theorem is actually thought to be true. And it applies to all models, not just ones in historical sciences.
(and in fact come to think of it it isn't even true; when you make predictions from a model, you don't just say “if the model is true then we should observe X”, you also say “if the model is false then we should observe Y”)

#14 gilbo12345

gilbo12345

    Veteran Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,000 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Completed BBiotech (Honours)

    Currently studying Masters of Teaching.

    Enjoys games of tactics and strategy.
  • Age: 25
  • (private)
  • Creationist
  • Australia

Posted 22 February 2012 - 09:13 PM

1. So you agree that if a hypothesis makes predictions of what kinds of things will be observed, that hypothesis is falsifiable and observations that match or contradict those predictions can serve to test the hypothesis ?

2. If so my next question would be what kind of observations you think count, because you have repeatedly insisted in this and other threads that only "real-time" processes could be tested, but if one has a hypothesis that a past event occurred and this hypothesis predicts this event should have left specific traces that can be observed in the present, then observing those traces and seeing whether they match or contradict the hypothesis should be a test of the hypothesis. "Post-hoc" isn't bad when it involves observations of past events (indeed all astronomical observations are observations of "past events", by a few minutes at least), it's bad when it involves using observations that were used to elaborate the theory to confirm the theory. But if an observation was unknown at the time the theory was elaborated, then using it to confirm the theory isn't post-hoc reasoning, however old the thing being observed is.



3. You have given no evidence that the people proposed that cells were blobs of jelly because they were doing inference instead of looking at empirical evidence, nor have you given any evidence that people changed their minds on it because they were looking at empirical evidence instead of inference. This is the second analogy on the same subject you refuse to explain.

4. I ask because it would be helpful to understanding what the difference between "inference" and "empirical evidence" is to you. As far as I can tell it isn't an either/or, inference is always used in science. Making predictions is a process of inference, you infer the consequences of a theory. And only then can empirical evidence (whether experimental or observational) be used to test the theory.

5. Like with "observation" you seem to be using "inference" not to mean inference in general, but to mean post-hoc reasoning. This is just confusing and makes it hard to understand what you mean when you talk about "inference" being a bad thing.


6. How about you address the actual scientific examples I brought up before going so far afield ?





1. I agree with that, however that is not what happens with evolution, living fossils was not predicted and actually contradicted the theory... Until they added an ad hoc explanation to explain it away

2. Observations that can only directly be attributed to the inferred thing in question... In terms of evolution, how do we KNOW that evolution caused the similarities in the fossil record? All we can scientifically deduce from the fossils is that they are fossils, (duh), and that they are similar in some respects.. The MECHANISM for such similarities is not shown in such observations.

Hence you can claim common ancestor, I can claim common design since BOTH claims fit the observations. Hence its a moot point, since it is evidence of design as well.


3. The entire claim that in Darwin's time people used to think cells were blobs of jelly came from my Microbiology lectures, (since we talked about the history of Microbiology), where would such claims originate if not from assumptions based on looking at life or our own bodies / skin. I have explained all the analogies on this subject just because you don't like what I write doesn't mean you can claim otherwise, (that is dishonest).

JEAN-BAPTISTE DE LAMARCK
The majority of this Frenchman's work (1744 - 1829) dealt with animal classification and evolution. He is credited with taking steps towards the creation of the cell theory with this saying: "Every step which Nature takes when making her direct creations consists in organizing into cellular tissue the minute masses of viscous or mucous substances that she finds at her disposal under favorable circumstances." http://library.think...413/theory.html

I didn't think I'd need to show how cells are not blobs of jelly.... Are you sure you really need such evidence? Perhaps research cell theory, and electron microscope... We can actually observe all the functioning parts and organelles of a cell, hence it is a factory not just a blob. To test this claim we can resort to bioreactors where millions of cells produce tons of organic product for use in pharmaceuticals (Pharmaceutical / Industrial Biotechnology, one of my future careers). For a cell to do this it would liken to be a factory with parts for assembly and production of the organic product.

4. I stand by the normal representations of what these words mean, please don't attempt equivocation. They are clearly defined in a dictionary if you do not know what these words mean.

5. No YOU were the one who exchanged inference for observation, in post 5... I fell into that trap, (my bad) however I won't do so again. As I said there are empirical observations, you will be best served if you actually read what I post.....

6. How about you show how pure inference with no experimental data can be claimed as science... Since it defies what the teaching site I quote claims, as well as what other atheists claim on another thread.

#15 aelyn

aelyn

    Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 383 posts
  • Age: 30
  • no affiliation
  • Atheist
  • Denver, Colorado

Posted 25 February 2012 - 06:31 AM

1. I agree with that, however that is not what happens with evolution, living fossils was not predicted and actually contradicted the theory... Until they added an ad hoc explanation to explain it away

Um, something that wasn't explicitly predicted but doesn't contradict a theory is completely irrelevant to the testing of the theory. It's the actual predictions, and whether subsequent observations agree or disagree with them that's relevant.

2. Observations that can only directly be attributed to the inferred thing in question... In terms of evolution, how do we KNOW that evolution caused the similarities in the fossil record? All we can scientifically deduce from the fossils is that they are fossils, (duh), and that they are similar in some respects.. The MECHANISM for such similarities is not shown in such observations. Hence you can claim common ancestor, I can claim common design since BOTH claims fit the observations. Hence its a moot point, since it is evidence of design as well.

I'm asking general questions about science here; I might eventually want to talk about how they apply to evolution but not until we agree on the generalities, and this last passage makes me doubt that.
The way we "know", in science in general, whether a purported explanation for a phenomenon is correct, is by making predictions of what we should observe/what experiments should yield if that explanation were true, and what would happen if the explanation were false. And the more observations/experiments bear out the predictions, the more confident we can be in said explanation, and when they don't that means the explanation needs to be modified. That's why predictions, experiments and observations are important in the first place. Do you have another suggestion on how to "know" whether a scientific explanation of a phenomenon is correct ?

3. The entire claim that in Darwin's time people used to think cells were blobs of jelly came from my Microbiology lectures, (since we talked about the history of Microbiology), where would such claims originate if not from assumptions based on looking at life or our own bodies / skin. I have explained all the analogies on this subject just because you don't like what I write doesn't mean you can claim otherwise, (that is dishonest).JEAN-BAPTISTE DE LAMARCK The majority of this Frenchman's work (1744 - 1829) dealt with animal classification and evolution. He is credited with taking steps towards the creation of the cell theory with this saying: "Every step which Nature takes when making her direct creations consists in organizing into cellular tissue the minute masses of viscous or mucous substances that she finds at her disposal under favorable circumstances." http://library.think...413/theory.html I didn't think I'd need to show how cells are not blobs of jelly.... Are you sure you really need such evidence? Perhaps research cell theory, and electron microscope... We can actually observe all the functioning parts and organelles of a cell, hence it is a factory not just a blob. To test this claim we can resort to bioreactors where millions of cells produce tons of organic product for use in pharmaceuticals (Pharmaceutical / Industrial Biotechnology, one of my future careers). For a cell to do this it would liken to be a factory with parts for assembly and production of the organic product.

Wow, you've really missed the point here. You have been using the way people use to think that cells were blobs of jelly as an example of a wrong way of doing science. And there have been people in the past doing science in a wrong way. But you have given no evidence that thinking cells were blobs of jelly is one such example, and the fact you suggest I look up electron microscopes seems to show you don't quite understand your own analogy.

Look, there are two ways you can get something wrong in science. You can get it wrong because you're doing science itself wrong (phlogiston theory for example, which was a non-explanation because there was no substance to it, which you can tell because it made no predictions), or you're doing science right but you don't have the data, instruments or background knowledge that would allow you to get it right. One example is Newtonian physics; we now know it was wrong, but the scientists who invented and used that theory of physics were doing everything right. They simply didn't have instruments precise enough to see most relativistic effects, and they didn't have the additional decades' worth of advances in mathematics and data that and Einstein and his successors had when the theory of relativity was invented, tested and used.

If people discovered that cells weren't blobs of jelly the moment the electron microscope was first used on cells, then that isn't evidence the people who thought up that theory were doing science wrong. It could just be they didn't have instruments strong enough to see the internal structure of the cell, so they created the best theory they could on the evidence they had.

So if you want to keep using those people as an example of people doing science wrong, please show actual evidence they were doing science wrong, and that the people who discovered the inner structure of cells were doing science differently, instead of just having better microscopes.

4. I stand by the normal representations of what these words mean, please don't attempt equivocation. They are clearly defined in a dictionary if you do not know what these words mean.

Well, "inference" as it's defined in the dictionary is a process that is integral to science. Inference isn't bad, a lack of supporting evidence and predictions is.

5. No YOU were the one who exchanged inference for observation, in post 5... I fell into that trap, (my bad) however I won't do so again. As I said there are empirical observations, you will be best served if you actually read what I post.....

A word search on "inference" shows that the first instance of that word appearing outside of a quote in this thread is in post# 6 - yours. And the second non-quote occurrence is in post# 12 - yours again, the one where you say that the conversation changed from inference to observations. I have no clue what you're on about here.

6. How about you show how pure inference with no experimental data can be claimed as science... Since it defies what the teaching site I quote claims, as well as what other atheists claim on another thread.

Evasive maneuver, pattern delta !
No seriously, why can't you apply your ideas of how science works to actual examples of science working ? It's getting plain weird at this point, and asking me to defend positions I haven't supported at any point in this conversation is even weirder.

#16 gilbo12345

gilbo12345

    Veteran Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,000 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Completed BBiotech (Honours)

    Currently studying Masters of Teaching.

    Enjoys games of tactics and strategy.
  • Age: 25
  • (private)
  • Creationist
  • Australia

Posted 25 February 2012 - 08:49 AM

1. Um, something that wasn't explicitly predicted but doesn't contradict a theory is completely irrelevant to the testing of the theory.

2. It's the actual predictions, and whether subsequent observations agree or disagree with them that's relevant.


3. I'm asking general questions about science here; I might eventually want to talk about how they apply to evolution but not until we agree on the generalities, and this last passage makes me doubt that.
The way we "know", in science in general, whether a purported explanation for a phenomenon is correct, is by making predictions of what we should observe/what experiments should yield if that explanation were true, and what would happen if the explanation were false. And the more observations/experiments bear out the predictions, the more confident we can be in said explanation, and when they don't that means the explanation needs to be modified. That's why predictions, experiments and observations are important in the first place.

4. Do you have another suggestion on how to "know" whether a scientific explanation of a phenomenon is correct ?


5. Wow, you've really missed the point here. You have been using the way people use to think that cells were blobs of jelly as an example of a wrong way of doing science. And there have been people in the past doing science in a wrong way. But you have given no evidence that thinking cells were blobs of jelly is one such example, and the fact you suggest I look up electron microscopes seems to show you don't quite understand your own analogy.

Look, there are two ways you can get something wrong in science. You can get it wrong because you're doing science itself wrong (phlogiston theory for example, which was a non-explanation because there was no substance to it, which you can tell because it made no predictions), or you're doing science right but you don't have the data, instruments or background knowledge that would allow you to get it right. One example is Newtonian physics; we now know it was wrong, but the scientists who invented and used that theory of physics were doing everything right. They simply didn't have instruments precise enough to see most relativistic effects, and they didn't have the additional decades' worth of advances in mathematics and data that and Einstein and his successors had when the theory of relativity was invented, tested and used.

6. If people discovered that cells weren't blobs of jelly the moment the electron microscope was first used on cells, then that isn't evidence the people who thought up that theory were doing science wrong.

7. It could just be they didn't have instruments strong enough to see the internal structure of the cell, so they created the best theory they could on the evidence they had.

8. So if you want to keep using those people as an example of people doing science wrong, please show actual evidence they were doing science wrong, and that the people who discovered the inner structure of cells were doing science differently, instead of just having better microscopes.


9. Well, "inference" as it's defined in the dictionary is a process that is integral to science. Inference isn't bad, a lack of supporting evidence and predictions is.


A word search on "inference" shows that the first instance of that word appearing outside of a quote in this thread is in post# 6 - yours. And the second non-quote occurrence is in post# 12 - yours again, the one where you say that the conversation changed from inference to observations. I have no clue what you're on about here.


10. Evasive maneuver, pattern delta !
No seriously, why can't you apply your ideas of how science works to actual examples of science working ?

11. It's getting plain weird at this point, and asking me to defend positions I haven't supported at any point in this conversation is even weirder.


1. I said it does contradict the theory... Evolution predicts change over millions of years... Living fossils show NO change over millions of years. You'd need a fair amount of mental gymnastics to claim there is no contradiction.

2. And what predictions are they? All I hear about are ad hoc "predictions".... There was the one about Tiktaalik, however that has been debunked

3. And I was attempting to show that even IF an observation fits a theory there can and may be multiple creditable explanations, hence you cannot just claim that the observations fit this and be done with it. That is why experimental tests should be undertaken to ensure that the proper explanation is being given.

4. I wasn't attempting to give another example, as I said I was showing where inference fails since multiple theories can be inferred from a single observation...

5. Shakes head.....

Either you don't understand or you don't want to... Or you just want to equivocate on every point and waste time splitting hairs.

You just said that people used to believe that cells were blobs of jelly. Where would such thoughts come from if not by observation (just visual observation of the skin etc), yet when further observation was able to be undertaken (via microscopes) we now see that such observations and claims were false.

I never claimed it to be a "theory" just that it was common knowledge at the time. Furthermore it IS a wrong way of doing science since as microbiologists can testify, they had it wrong. Or would you claim that being wrong is justified? The fact that they made these claims with NO experimental data or such is testament to the lack of scientific thinking in such claims, (which is the crux of what I am saying here- they had no experiments hence how can they say they are correct)

The same is said in point 4. Experiments are the defining part of science, without them you are left with assumptions, inference and opinion, all of which are unscientific.

Do you admit that in every scientific endeavor there MUST be some form of experimental analysis that can be undertaken to verify claims?

6. Firstly I never claimed it to be a theory... Where have I ever said the "jelly-cell theory"? Furthermore it was their complete lack of experimental tests, is what I am focusing on.

7. If this is such, then shouldn't there be a sense of modesty in that even if a theory claims X. X can still be proven false, (yes many scientists admit this)... However if that is the case why do so many people act and talk like Dawkins. Whereby he assumes we know everything or that everything we do know (or claim to know) is true. This equally is another bad way of "doing science" since close-mindedness is never a good way to learn new things about the world... (IN fact it stifles scientific thinking, so much for being one of the "Brights")

8. Or just point out there lack of experimentation and adherence to assumption based "logic"

"As just stated, experimental tests may lead either to the confirmation of the hypothesis, or to the ruling out of the hypothesis. The scientific method requires that an hypothesis be ruled out or modified if its predictions are clearly and repeatedly incompatible with experimental tests. Further, no matter how elegant a theory is, its predictions must agree with experimental results if we are to believe that it is a valid description of nature. In physics, as in every experimental science, "experiment is supreme" and experimental verification of hypothetical predictions is absolutely necessary. "

source was cited before.

9. It is useful... In the formation of a hypothesis.. That is it... Anything further is assumption based "logic" which is not scientific.

10. Ha thanks for pointing out your own attempt at such evasive maneuvers. I'm asking you to "put your money where your mouth is" if you think science can thrive with no experimentation, please show it. Since from what I see it flies in the face of what all scientists claim about science, and what all scientists are taught at university about science.

What examples did you give?

11. Really... You should double check post 5 where you said this...

" This does nothing to answer either why experimental science is necessary, or why prediction/observation can't serve the same purpose, or whether pre-20th-century astronomy was a science."

#17 aelyn

aelyn

    Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 383 posts
  • Age: 30
  • no affiliation
  • Atheist
  • Denver, Colorado

Posted 25 February 2012 - 10:41 AM

1. I said it does contradict the theory... Evolution predicts change over millions of years... Living fossils show NO change over millions of years. You'd need a fair amount of mental gymnastics to claim there is no contradiction.

It does not, that is yet another misconception about the theory. Evolution predicts overall change in the biosphere over millions of years, it doesn't say that every single lineage will change in every respect that the exact same rate. In fact evolution would predict the opposite, given that natural selection depends on the environment and environments vary. Moreover it is untrue that "living fossils" show NO change over millions of years. The modern coelacanth for example is quite different from the fossil coelacanths we have. "Little change" doesn't mean "NO change".

2. And what predictions are they? All I hear about are ad hoc "predictions".... There was the one about Tiktaalik, however that has been debunked

Tiktaalik is a well-known example, although technically you could say it was less a prediction made explicitly to test the theory and more a use of the theory to predict observations in an operational sense. I'd never heard of it being debunked though, I'd love to know what that's supposed to mean.

3. And I was attempting to show that even IF an observation fits a theory there can and may be multiple creditable explanations, hence you cannot just claim that the observations fit this and be done with it. That is why experimental tests should be undertaken to ensure that the proper explanation is being given.

Yeah, you make many different observations obviously. Or are you again taking the position that experimental tests can test theories and observations can't ? And haven't you understood yet that what you say applies to all sciences ? Experimental results can also have several different explanations. That's why science is never about proof, it's about levels of confidence. And why making predictions is important.

4. I wasn't attempting to give another example, as I said I was showing where inference fails since multiple theories can be inferred from a single observation...

...or a single experimental result. That's why no science relies on a single observation, or a single experimental result.

You just said that people used to believe that cells were blobs of jelly. Where would such thoughts come from if not by observation (just visual observation of the skin etc), yet when further observation was able to be undertaken (via microscopes) we now see that such observations and claims were false.

People didn't even know cells existed until they invented microscopes. And microscopes had been invented, and cells discovered, quite a long time before Darwin's time. Maybe you should actually look up what people thought when and why instead of basing your analogy on hypotheticals like "where would such thoughts come from if not by observation ?"

I never claimed it to be a "theory" just that it was common knowledge at the time. Furthermore it IS a wrong way of doing science since as microbiologists can testify, they had it wrong. Or would you claim that being wrong is justified? The fact that they made these claims with NO experimental data or such is testament to the lack of scientific thinking in such claims, (which is the crux of what I am saying here- they had no experiments hence how can they say they are correct)

Look, unlike you I never took a microbiology class, but I can look up when the microscope was invented and the history of cell theory and what I'm seeing is that people were getting their ideas about cells from looking through microscopes and doing experiments long before Darwin was born. I would like to see some evidence for your assertion that people made those claims with no experimental data.

As for this : Furthermore it IS a wrong way of doing science since as microbiologists can testify, they had it wrong.
That is an incorrect inference. There are two ways a scientific conclusion can be wrong : if the method used is wrong, or if there isn't enough evidence to come to the right conclusion. "Not having invented the electronic microscope yet" is not, as a matter of fact, "a wrong way of doing science". If that were the case there would be no such thing as a right way of doing science, because none of our instruments are perfect.

The same is said in point 4. Experiments are the defining part of science, without them you are left with assumptions, inference and opinion, all of which are unscientific.

Do you admit that in every scientific endeavor there MUST be some form of experimental analysis that can be undertaken to verify claims?

Experiments and observations, yes. Nobody here disagrees with this. The problem is that you don't seem to understand the actual role of experiments, observations and inference play in science in practice. If you did you wouldn't be saying that people in Darwin's time thought cells were blobs of jelly because they did no experiments or hadn't looked through microscopes. Or you would be able to actually demonstrate this, maybe with a cite to a relevant source because I can't find anything. And you wouldn't be saying that inference is unscientific. Science cannot exist without inference; human reason cannot exist without inference. Science cannot exist without experiment and observation either; Both are necessary.

6. Firstly I never claimed it to be a theory... Where have I ever said the "jelly-cell theory"? Furthermore it was their complete lack of experimental tests, is what I am focusing on.

You have given no evidence for such a lack of experimental tests. You have asserted it, many times, but you don't seem to know much on the subject at all. For example suggesting that further observations "via microscopes" led them to change their mind, as if they hadn't been looking through microscopes already for two centuries by that time.

7. If this is such, then shouldn't there be a sense of modesty in that even if a theory claims X. X can still be proven false, (yes many scientists admit this)...

There should be a sense of modesty in saying any statement at all, because nothing is ever certain. Even the most certain things we have, like mathematical statements, can't be said with absolute certainty because humans make mistakes and have momentary lapses all the time. Considering that, the danger is in thinking that just because science is explicit about its lack of certainty, that means it's less certain than other pieces of knowledge. And that's unfounded.

8. Or just point out there lack of experimentation and adherence to assumption based "logic"

Yes. So please point to that please. You've been asserting it, you haven't actually shown me that those people weren't experimenting or looking through microscopes. And as far as I've been able to tell, they were.

9. It is useful... In the formation of a hypothesis.. That is it... Anything further is assumption based "logic" which is not scientific.

Yeah, the formation of a hypothesis and the deriving of predictions from it. And that's such a negligible aspect of science...

10. Ha thanks for pointing out your own attempt at such evasive maneuvers. I'm asking you to "put your money where your mouth is" if you think science can thrive with no experimentation, please show it. Since from what I see it flies in the face of what all scientists claim about science, and what all scientists are taught at university about science.

From what I see it isn't something I have said at any point, and as a matter of fact explicitly denied in the paragraph you're responding to.

What examples did you give?

I asked you how various aspects of what you were saying applied to the Earth not being the center of the Universe, finding a planet's orbit, and now the discovery that cells aren't blobs of jelly.

11. Really... You should double check post 5 where you said this...

" This does nothing to answer either why experimental science is necessary, or why prediction/observation can't serve the same purpose, or whether pre-20th-century astronomy was a science."

If you read that carefully you'll notice that isn't a statement that I don't think experimental science is necessary, it's asking you to tell me why you think it is. Note also that at that point in the conversation we were looking at experiments versus observations; I had thought after post# 9 that we could both agree that observations and experiments can substitute for each other in cases where you can't do both but maybe I was wrong.

#18 gilbo12345

gilbo12345

    Veteran Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,000 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Completed BBiotech (Honours)

    Currently studying Masters of Teaching.

    Enjoys games of tactics and strategy.
  • Age: 25
  • (private)
  • Creationist
  • Australia

Posted 25 February 2012 - 12:11 PM

1. It does not, that is yet another misconception about the theory. Evolution predicts overall change in the biosphere over millions of years, it doesn't say that every single lineage will change in every respect that the exact same rate.

2. In fact evolution would predict the opposite, given that natural selection depends on the environment and environments vary.

3. Moreover it is untrue that "living fossils" show NO change over millions of years. The modern coelacanth for example is quite different from the fossil coelacanths we have. "Little change" doesn't mean "NO change".


4. Tiktaalik is a well-known example, although technically you could say it was less a prediction made explicitly to test the theory and more a use of the theory to predict observations in an operational sense. I'd never heard of it being debunked though, I'd love to know what that's supposed to mean.


5. Yeah, you make many different observations obviously. Or are you again taking the position that experimental tests can test theories and observations can't ?

6. Experimental results can also have several different explanations. That's why science is never about proof, it's about levels of confidence. And why making predictions is important.


7. ...or a single experimental result. That's why no science relies on a single observation, or a single experimental result.


8. People didn't even know cells existed until they invented microscopes.

9. And microscopes had been invented, and cells discovered, quite a long time before Darwin's time. Maybe you should actually look up what people thought when and why instead of basing your analogy on hypotheticals like "where would such thoughts come from if not by observation ?"


10 Look, unlike you I never took a microbiology class, but I can look up when the microscope was invented and the history of cell theory and what I'm seeing is that people were getting their ideas about cells from looking through microscopes and doing experiments long before Darwin was born. I would like to see some evidence for your assertion that people made those claims with no experimental data.

11. As for this : Furthermore it IS a wrong way of doing science since as microbiologists can testify, they had it wrong.
That is an incorrect inference. There are two ways a scientific conclusion can be wrong : if the method used is wrong, or if there isn't enough evidence to come to the right conclusion. "Not having invented the electronic microscope yet" is not, as a matter of fact, "a wrong way of doing science". If that were the case there would be no such thing as a right way of doing science, because none of our instruments are perfect.


12. Experiments and observations, yes. Nobody here disagrees with this. The problem is that you don't seem to understand the actual role of experiments, observations and inference play in science in practice.

13. If you did you wouldn't be saying that people in Darwin's time thought cells were blobs of jelly because they did no experiments

14. or hadn't looked through microscopes. Or you would be able to actually demonstrate this, maybe with a cite to a relevant source because I can't find anything. And you wouldn't be saying that inference is unscientific. Science cannot exist without inference; human reason cannot exist without inference. Science cannot exist without experiment and observation either; Both are necessary.


15. You have given no evidence for such a lack of experimental tests. You have asserted it, many times, but you don't seem to know much on the subject at all. For example suggesting that further observations "via microscopes" led them to change their mind, as if they hadn't been looking through microscopes already for two centuries by that time.


16. There should be a sense of modesty in saying any statement at all, because nothing is ever certain. Even the most certain things we have, like mathematical statements, can't be said with absolute certainty because humans make mistakes and have momentary lapses all the time. Considering that, the danger is in thinking that just because science is explicit about its lack of certainty, that means it's less certain than other pieces of knowledge. And that's unfounded.


17. Yes. So please point to that please. You've been asserting it, you haven't actually shown me that those people weren't experimenting or looking through microscopes. And as far as I've been able to tell, they were.


18. Yeah, the formation of a hypothesis and the deriving of predictions from it. And that's such a negligible aspect of science...


19. From what I see it isn't something I have said at any point, and as a matter of fact explicitly denied in the paragraph you're responding to.


20. I asked you how various aspects of what you were saying applied to the Earth not being the center of the Universe, finding a planet's orbit, and now the discovery that cells aren't blobs of jelly.


21. If you read that carefully you'll notice that isn't a statement that I don't think experimental science is necessary, it's asking you to tell me why you think it is. Note also that at that point in the conversation we were looking at experiments versus observations; I had thought after post# 9 that we could both agree that observations and experiments can substitute for each other in cases where you can't do both but maybe I was wrong.


1. Did I mention anything about rate? That is your strawman.

Evolution claims change over millions of years, Evolution claims common descent.. Since you use the Coelacanth it is interesting to note that in the past the Coelecath was a supposed member of the fish to amphibian transition.... Yet it exists un-evolved...

2. Huh.. So evolution predicts no change? Now you're just being silly and equivocating.

3. Is it still a coelacanth? Then it hasn't evolved by any measure that an evolutionist can claim otherwise... Wow its fins got bigger or smaller or its a few inches shorter, we see such variation between generations.

4. Tiktaalik was predicted since evolution claims the transition of fish to amphibians... It was (apparently) found in the right layers and dated at the right time too... Yet its the footprints in Poland that date 18 million years older than Tiktaalik that disproves it. Furthermore it completely debunks the entire chain since all the dates need to rewound and re-examined.. So basically as of now there is no creditable evidence (at all) of a fish to amphibian transition.

5. I'm not falling for that equivocation you tried in post 5. "Fool me once shame on me, fool me twice shame on you". Inferences require support that is all I am willing to say at this time.

6. If that is the case then the experiment failed. This is why there is a hypothesis and a null hypothesis or if something totally different occurs a new experiment is formulated. I'd like your evidence that experimental results can have multiple explanations.

7. Did I say just single results? Don't put your own words in my mouth

8. And your point?... Did I say otherwise? (or are you attempting to put more words in my mouth... misrepresentation)

9. If that is the case then you need to tell my Microbiology lecturer since I was using her analogy.... I assumed she would know, since she is a Prof in Microbiology

10. Yes people knew about cells before Darwin, that was not what I said, (misrepresentation)... What I said was that people thought that cells were just blobs of jelly. I refer you to my quote I posted earlier..

" Jeane- Baptiste de Lamark- The majority of this Frenchman's work (1744 - 1829) dealt with animal classification and evolution. He is credited with taking steps towards the creation of the cell theory with this saying: "Every step which Nature takes when making her direct creations consists in organizing into cellular tissue the minute masses of viscous or mucous substances that she finds at her disposal under favorable circumstances."
http://library.think...413/theory.html

It was easier to assume evolution when cells are merely blobs that "Nature" can mold "at her disposal"..

11. I am not discussing that I am discussing that no testing was involved. I already made this clear to you. Why do you try and steer my topics out of context, all the time?

12. Was I the one asking why do experiments at all? (see post 5). Seems you have me confused with yourself here....

13. Well considering that experiments are the fundamental core of experimental science then you would think they would yes... However all I wanted to portray with my crude analogy was that inferences can be (and commonly are) incorrect and must be validated, you have shown another way they can be incorrect- via not enough information via bad instruments so in this case my analogy stands to support this claim. Inferences must be validated with evidence, otherwise it is simply an opinion that is posited as a claim.

14. Did I say they didn't look through microscopes? (Perhaps an electron microscope, as I said that was what defined cells as having parts etc).. But to claim microscopes in general is drawing a long bow and is ... misrepresentation.

15. More misrepresentation... I said ELECTRON microscope!!! Please read what I say and if you refer to what I (apparently) say then quote me.

" I didn't think I'd need to show how cells are not blobs of jelly.... Are you sure you really need such evidence? Perhaps research cell theory, and electron microscope... We can actually observe all the functioning parts and organelles of a cell, hence it is a factory not just a blob. To test this claim we can resort to bioreactors where millions of cells produce tons of organic product for use in pharmaceuticals (Pharmaceutical / Industrial Biotechnology, one of my future careers). For a cell to do this it would liken to be a factory with parts for assembly and production of the organic product. " Me -post#14

16. And how does that apply to Dawkins and his ilk who claim absolute certainty in their claims? Do you feel that, as I described before, such thinking is anti-scientific and thus isn't really that intellectual...

17. Again I never said they weren't looking at microscopes. People knew cells were there but they ASSUMED they were jelly.

18. Did I say it was negligible? In fact I said inference was useful... (Just for the formation of a hypothesis)

19. The paragraph I was replying to did no such thing. Furthermore read point 21.

20. What exactly are you asking for.

21. Yes it was a question. However why would you need to ask the question if you already knew that experiments are fundamental to science.. In fact why even start this thread if not to attempt to make inferences scientific or downgrade the importance of experiments.. Its all in your OP, so your equivocation before serves to disassociate you from your own OP...

#19 gilbo12345

gilbo12345

    Veteran Member

  • Veteran Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,000 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Completed BBiotech (Honours)

    Currently studying Masters of Teaching.

    Enjoys games of tactics and strategy.
  • Age: 25
  • (private)
  • Creationist
  • Australia

Posted 25 February 2012 - 12:24 PM

To tidy up.


1. Do you agree that experimental science is based on experimentation?

2. Do you agree that science cannot be conducted on inference alone?

3. Do you agree that scientific claims requires validation?




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users