Reply Fri 7 Sep, 2007 03:18 am
Is everyone agreed that falsifiability is the hallmark of a scientific theory and that the closest scientific truth can get to certainty is repeatedly unfulfilled falsifiability?

Peter
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pshrodr
 
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Reply Tue 25 Sep, 2007 03:57 pm
@Peter phil,
I think I disagree that repeated unfilfilled falsifiability is an indicator of truth. It depends on what is predicted to be true. The farther away something is in distance, time, or size, the harder it is to prove or disprove. If I make a prediction that the universe ends 25 billion light years away and repeated searches dont prove otherwise, am I correct?
alternatively, I cant prove the 'big bang is wrong, but it contradicts the known force of gravity and thus seems stupit to me.
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l0ck
 
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Reply Tue 25 Sep, 2007 07:48 pm
@Peter phil,
how does the big bang contradict gravity?
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pshrodr
 
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Reply Wed 26 Sep, 2007 08:25 am
@Peter phil,
The net effect of gravity is to cause masses to try to come together. The only known way to offset the 'attraction' is for the masses to move laterally relative to each other.

As for the expanding universe, there is no known example of expansion, acceleration, or explosion that continuously increases the speed of ejection and correlates with the expanding universe and big bang theory. Without some internal motive force, gravity will continuously slow any initially accelerated velocity. In order to overcome this logic, we have been told the laws of physics changed somewhere along the line and we have been introduced to many imaginary concepts such as multi dimensions, strange particles, curved space, membranes, time warp, etc.

Briefly, the history of the expanding universe originated with Hubble's finding that star light exhibited red shift, and gradually it seemed that the further away, the greater the shift. These findings occurred soon after Einsteins in depth discussions of frequency change for sound waves as trains approach or depart. So the cause of universal redshift become stars departing and at a rate that increased as their distance increased. Subsequently the new found quasars with especially high red shifts were determined to be furthest away. In more recent times quasars have been shown to be closely associated with certain galaxies and thus not far away at all. How can galaxies and quasars at somewhat similar distances have such different red shifts? This finding by Halton Arp and others is so damaging to current theory it appears to be being suppressed. It has confused the whole realm of red shift and encouraged tired light theories.

No one seems to be considering gravitational red shift. It is detected for light from the sun and should apply in space. Then the more massive quasar can shift light more than a galaxy. Note also that gravitational red shift would increase with distance thus providing 2 factors distance and mass that determine red shifts throughout space.

Paul
validity
 
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Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 01:43 am
@pshrodr,
Yes I think falsifiability is a key concept in the Philosophy of Science.

A key concept in Science is proof. If the claim that the universe ends 25 billion light years away is made, it is not up to others to prove it wrong, but up to the person making the claim to prove it right. If there was no need to prove things first, then all possibilities would be considered true until each "truth" was proved wrong.
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Didymos Thomas
 
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Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 08:43 am
@Peter phil,
I'm not sure I'd go that far, Peter, but I would, and I think we all would, agree that any system which is nonfalsifiable is certainly worthless.
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NeitherExtreme
 
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Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 08:32 pm
@Peter phil,
Interesting thread, and I have a related question... Is the modern evolution theory falsifiable? If not, then I don't think that falsifiablility should be considered the hallmark of the modern science community at least...
Didymos Thomas
 
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Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 11:45 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
Sure it is - it could be disproven by observation or experiament.
NeitherExtreme
 
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Reply Sun 2 Dec, 2007 11:49 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Sure it is - it could be disproven by observation or experiament.

I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm no scientist Wink , but I've pondered this one a bit... what kind of observation or experement could falsify it?
Didymos Thomas
 
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Reply Sun 2 Dec, 2007 02:49 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
If archaeologist, for example, found a 300 million year old homo sapiens fossil, we would at least have to rethink evolution to some extent.
Or, perhaps, if we learned, through experiament, our dating methods were totally inaccurate, this could cause trouble for evolution.

Is evolution falsifiable? Yes. Is evolution false? Not as far as we can tell.
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NeitherExtreme
 
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Reply Sun 2 Dec, 2007 02:56 pm
@Peter phil,
OK, I do see what you're saying. It is possible to find problems if they happen to show up. (Though I personally have my doubts that any "problems" they found would be released to the public till they had a way to "fix" it, but that is my opinion only.)

But is there a way to test it?

I guess I'm especially asking about the whole process of evolution: One form changing to a completely new form etc.
Didymos Thomas
 
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Reply Sun 2 Dec, 2007 03:01 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
Quote:
OK, I do see what you're saying. It is possible to find problems if they happen to show up. (Though I personally have my doubts that any "problems" they found would be released to the public till they had a way to "fix" it, but that is my opinion only.)


Who is "they"? Every scientist worth a damn in the world? No single government, no body of governments, could cover up something of this nature.

Quote:
But is there a way to test it?

I guess I'm especially asking about the whole process of evolution: One form changing to a completely new form etc.


Sure. First, we have millions of years worth of fossil records that clearly show the evolution of species over periods of time. Even from generation to generation we see genetic changes which, if they continue at the same rate, necessarily are part of evolution. We also can witness of genetic mutations which are a part of evolution. People over seven feet tall? There you go.
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NeitherExtreme
 
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Reply Sun 2 Dec, 2007 03:09 pm
@Peter phil,
Well, I think one of these days I'll have to start a thread on evelution so we can have this debate without derailing someone else's thread.... Wink :rolleyes:

(I'll try to take this back to topic, and leave my beef with evolution alone.Smile ) Do you think that if a theory by definition takes more time to test and prove than is possible that is therefore not falsifiable, or is it falsifiable because we can look at present evidence and determine what we think happened (and is happening).
Didymos Thomas
 
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Reply Sun 2 Dec, 2007 03:25 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
Quote:
Do you think that if a theory by definition takes more time to test and prove than is possible that is therefore not falsifiable, or is it falsifiable because we can look at present evidence and determine what we think happened (and is happening).


I'm not sure I follow you. The amount of time it takes to test something should not matter.
NeitherExtreme
 
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Reply Mon 3 Dec, 2007 03:47 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
I'm not sure I follow you. The amount of time it takes to test something should not matter.

Well, like I said I'm no scientist, so it's possible I don't quite get the idea %100. But anyhow, an example of what I'm thinking of would be the idea (and this one I don't have a problem with Wink ) that a nebula becomes a star over X amount of time. A test that would make this idea really falsifiable (as I understand it) would be to take a number of nebulas and wait X + some extra time, and see if they turn into stars. Of course we don't have that kind of time, so we look at different nebulas/stars that appear to us to be at different stages of developement and so we "connect the dots". So my question would be if theories of that sort are falsifiable? And how would someone prove its false?
Didymos Thomas
 
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Reply Tue 4 Dec, 2007 11:12 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
I am a scientist as much as you are; however, theories such as the one you present rely on a number of other things. The lifespan of a nebula, as we understand it, is determined by the chemicals which compose that nebula. If the nebula's fuel burns faster than we expect it to, our theory regarding the nebula would be wrong.

You see what I mean?
NeitherExtreme
 
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Reply Wed 5 Dec, 2007 01:52 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
I am a scientist as much as you are; however, theories such as the one you present rely on a number of other things. The lifespan of a nebula, as we understand it, is determined by the chemicals which compose that nebula. If the nebula's fuel burns faster than we expect it to, our theory regarding the nebula would be wrong.

You see what I mean?

Yep, I see what you mean...Smile
So does being able to test (and to some extent falsify) pieces of the whole, does that make the whole falsifiable? And I would think that if we are only dealing with pieces, we are still in some way just "connecting the dots", which I think must be more subject to interpreation that something that we test the whole thing. Also, if we have an established theory with many parts that seems to make complete sense (the nebula theory for example), how many parts must fail (or apear to fail) before we toss the whole theory out? Like if the gass turns out to burn too fast in our tests, but the rest of the theory still make sense, and all the other math adds up, and it still seems like the best theory we have? Wouldn't it be likely that I would keep the theory, and just keep trying to understand the nature of the gas burning, under the assumtion that my problem is understanding the "gas burning problem"? If this is true, then the theory on a whole is not falsifiable, or at least I don't act as though it is...
Peter phil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Dec, 2007 02:45 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
You raise many interesting point, NeitherExtreme.

How much of an established theory needs to be falsified before the whole theory is abandoned? There is no simple answer to this. In practice what happens is that someone comes along with a theory (eg Newton's theory of gravity)which appears to answer key questions of the day, is open to the possibility of falsification through observation and experiment but is in fact confirmed by these observations. However, because no theory ever contains the whole truth, as time goes by instances gradually emerge in which the predictions of the theory are not supported by observation (ie the predictions are falsified). A trickle at first, these instances become increasingly more common. At this point a new theory is produced which explains the observations that are contrary to the previous idea. (eg Einstein's replacement of Newtonian gravity by the general theory of relativity.) An important point is that the old theory is not simply "junked". Newtonian physics remains good enough to predict the outcome of many processes to this day. Only under certain specialised conditions (eg approaching the speed of light) are the limitations of Newton's theory encountered and the more sophisticated Einstinean approach needed.

Does scientific theory do no more than "join up the dots?" There is a great deal of truth in this suggestion. Any theory, any claim to knowledge contains elements of the imaginative. The point is that a scientific theory, as opposed to more speculative philosophy, is required to join up the dots in a way which exposes the theory to testing by observation and is therefore open to falsification. Anyone with an imagination can join the dots. The challenge is the do so with an account which is not only open to falsification itself but actually survives the empirical tests which the scientific community subjects it to.

But at the end of the day, every theory is limited and fallible and in time its limitations are bound to be exposed by the very process of falsification through observation.

Peter
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