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View Diary: Rick Santorum does not know what 'science' is (241 comments)

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  •  Gödel (0+ / 0-)

    In a way, his statement evokes Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem, which found that in any formal system there are true statements that cannot be proven true within that system. So that's roughly "science points to the fact that maybe science doesn’t explain all these things."

    So a question is are we willing to say that whatever these inaccessible truths are, should we just forget about them because they can't be proven by scientific experiment, or perhaps accept that some other formal system (call it religion) might allow access to those truths?

    •  But science does not rely on "proof" the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sngmama, GDbot

      way that concept is used in mathematics and logic (which is what Gödel was analyzing). In science, all conclusions are provisional, being based on what best explains the currently-known observations in a particular area of study. Technically, it's based on inductive rather than deductive reasoning and the object isn't to discover tautologies; it's to create models that best fit the data. Questions of logical completeness aren't really meaningful here.

      If we (sloppily) say that some scientific conclusion is "proven" what we really mean is that the evidence in favor of that conclusion is so overwhelming that it would take truly extraordinary new findings to make us reject it.

      Banksters are harmful for the same reason neutrinos are harmless: neither are inclined to share what they've got (wealth and energy, respectively)

      by ebohlman on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 03:23:40 PM PST

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      •  Look at it this way (0+ / 0-)

        It's said that string theory can't be proven one way or another because there's no possible experiment to adequately test it. But it may be true.

        It's criticized by many as science crossing over into metaphysics.

        Gödel for his part developed a proof of the existence of God, expressed in symbolic logic.

    •  That's not how science works. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tim DeLaney

      Science does not attempt to prove anything true. It attempts to falsify. You start with a null hypothesis. For example, New Drug has no effect on all-cause mortality compared to Old Drug when used to treat Dread Disease.

      You accept the null if the drug trial indeed turns up no discernible difference. You reject the null if data indicate that all-cause mortality is lower (or higher ... adverse effects happen) with New Drug than with Old Drug.

      It's not just semantics. When you reject the null, you are not claiming absolute proof that there is a difference.

      I work in public health. We almost never speak of causes as settled fact. Only as accepted theory, based on extensive data, that is subject to modification if justified by new data.

      Just because you're not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time. -- T. Monk

      by susanala on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 06:15:12 PM PST

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      •  Well, particularly in the statistical fields (0+ / 0-)

        ...but consider the experiment that was conducted in 1919 as the first observational test of general relativity:

        The first observational proof of General Relativity   

        “This first observational proof of General Relativity sent shockwaves through the scientific establishment,” said Professor Ferreira. “It changed the goalposts for physics.”

        There is no statistical analysis there. The result wan't that the null hypothesis was rejected at p < .05. They simply looked for the predicted effect and measured it, within the limits of their instruments.

    •  That's fine. But that other formal (0+ / 0-)

      system needs its own place of teaching. It should not be in science classes.

      I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

      by samddobermann on Mon Dec 05, 2011 at 08:10:08 AM PST

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