Falsified Science

k, z comments on the science thread at Vox Popoli:

The key idea I got out of what you said is universal in conjunction with verifiable. And that’s the biggest violation that people make. Making universal claims that can never be verified.

This is related to what I sorted out a while back, the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning, which is related to inductive and deductive science (I think).

Deductive reasoning presents two premises and draws a logical conclusion. If both premises are true, then the conclusion must be true. Usually at least one of the premises is a generalization.

Inductive reasoning presents any number of premises and draws a conclusion which actually contains more information than the premises provide. The conclusion is not necessarily true, even if the premises are all true; it is only probably true. Usually the premises are all particularities and the conclusion is a generalization.

It is impossible to live without drawing inductive inferences that are not completely certain. Scientists will tell you that science consists of lots of generalizations with varying probabilities, but everything has to be somehow predictive and thereby verifiable.

Therefore, scientists are quite comfortable making universal claims that specify probabilities and provide a predictive test. The trouble comes when these claims are translated into some kind of social, psychological, or spiritual claims in ordinary language that ignores probabilities and doesn’t control testing conditions. At that point it is no longer scientific, and it is just so much speculation. (See Steve Sailer’s essay on the misuse of Darwinism.)

Example:

  • “Inductive” Premises: Some ancient bones resemble both human and ape bones.
  • Conclusion: Humans are descended from an animal ancestor and all human behavior and thought is determined by our collective history of animalistic biological factors.

However, since the process has never been observed and the factors have never been definitively identified or causally linked to human thought, this is purely speculative and not a scientific claim.

Moreover, the reasoning is not even purely inductive, since an additional, deductive premise is always assumed to be true, especially when it is not stated explicitly: All events in nature are explainable in terms of observable processes. Again, this process may be observable, but it has never been observed.

One of the commenters at VP noted the difference between operational and historical science. This distinction is an evasion used by speculative evolutionists. The paleontologist makes clear observations and operational scientific hypotheses about the evidence presented to him. Then he writes a historical narrative purporting to explain the present data in terms of processes that cannot be directly observed. This is a necessary aspect of any forensic science, but the narrative is nevertheless hypothetical and thus essentially fictitious. Speculative evolutionists may argue about who is the best fiction writer, but they are still writing fiction.

To the extent that their fictitious narratives enter the popular consciousness and impact social theory, they become mythological. If individuals begin to make everyday decisions based on these fictitious narratives about imagined biological factors operating within imagined processes that occurred before recorded history, they are acting based on superstition. This is the phony “naturalism” of Dr. H, which derives from “science” that utilizes “facts” that are not recordable, observable, verifiable, predictable, or repeatable.

Such a perspective fails the test for science or naturalism. Furthermore, it has nothing useful to say about specifically human phenomena such as belief in God, since it claims that all human phenomena are determined by unobserved animalistic factors in the past; those past animalistic factors it presumes to be similar to animalistic phenomena in the present, which, however, bear little resemblance to the human phenomena in question. (See also my review of Songs of the Gorilla Nation.)

However, actual observations of animal behavior may be used to define what is not uniquely human, and what is left is properly the object of anthropological study. This is what I would call the operational science of anthropology, the study of humanity, as distinct from the historical science of anthropology, which is merely speculative fiction.

“When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way.”

–Stevie Wonder

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5 thoughts on “Falsified Science

  1. Dave, that could have been the other k,z.

    It’s logic lesson time for me, if you’re so inclined. If you will, look at the wikipedia definitions of inductive and deductive reasoning. It looks to me that their definition of deductive reasoning is more general than yours.

    I’m trying to sort out how I can use the words “existential” and “universal” in regards to inductive and deductive reasoning. I might be overdoing it with

    See if you disagree with some of these statements:

    (1) A logic statement consists of a hypothesis and a conclusion.

    (2) There are only two types of conclusions, existential (there exists) or universal (for all).

    (3) Inductive reasoning consists of a universal conclusion based upon some existential observation (what one has seen to exist).

    (4) Inductive reasoning consists of a claim based upon some existential observation.

    (5) Inductive reasoning is not as sure as deductive reasoning because it is based on the existential rather than the universal.

  2. Why don’t you get a Ph.D. in philosophy? Then you would have more smackdown credentials, and you could post at Vox’s as “Dr. David the Wake”, like Dr. H.

    Aren’t interested? Can’t justify the time and money? Think it’s foolishness?

    Ultimately, most people probably endorse or dismiss credentialed people based on their own philosophical predisposition.

  3. In regards to your post on Vox’s about mathematician’s views on what numbers are:

    In my travels, most of the math professors I pestered weren’t that interested in the philosophy of math. But I went to schools where, for the most part, an applied math mentality ruled.

    The few I talked to who had specialties in non-applied math were very hostile to the idea that math is not totally independent of the physical universe; from what I understood, they had the view that math is totally independent of anything physical.

    I believe that math is ultimately based on 1 always being 1, which is a result of the fact that matter can neither be created or destroyed. That’s similar to Kronecker saying that “God created the integers, and all else is the work of man.”

  4. Logic is like math. You learn a little and then you forget it almost as fast as you learn it. Then it makes a fool out of you.

    As far as logic statements, I’ve only been thinking about implications, so you can forget about all that stuff.

    Plus, the tendency is to start using informal language, so everything gets ambiguous.

  5. Philosophy is not actually my area of expertise, and within philosophy logic is the subject I like the least.

    However, the wikipedia entries seem to substantially agree with what I wrote. They did remind me that I forgot about abductive reasoning, which is sometimes regarded as a special case of inductive reasoning. And they reinforced why the “reality-based community” of atheists is blowing smoke when they claim that their beliefs are perfectly logical and empirical.

    1. True, but too simplistic to enable analysis.

    2. This is a philosophical statement, not a scientific one. All of the following uses of “existential” would, I think, be meaningless to a scientist.
    Also, among philosophers, “existential” statements usually apply only to humans.

    PhD: Interested in the status, but not the usual career option or the politicization of ideas that it entails. No time or money now. I have considered an MA in Philosophy in a couple of years if I get bored. However, I am temperamentally a dilettante, so I would still be just a dilettante with a degree.

    I understand that some math concepts, even some entire systems, bear no resemblance to “nature.” However, that is also true of the Internet. Human thought and interaction is itself an objective reality.

Instigate some pointless rambling

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