Register | Sign In


Understanding through Discussion


EvC Forum active members: 51 (9179 total)
2 online now:
Newest Member: Jorge Parker
Post Volume: Total: 918,177 Year: 5,434/9,624 Month: 459/323 Week: 99/204 Day: 15/26 Hour: 0/0


Thread  Details

Email This Thread
Newer Topic | Older Topic
  
Author Topic:   Scientific method biased..?
Huntard
Member (Idle past 2406 days)
Posts: 2870
From: Limburg, The Netherlands
Joined: 09-02-2008


Message 1 of 21 (535982)
11-19-2009 1:50 AM


In the thread What is the point of this forum? Slevesque has argued that the scientific method is biased towards a particular outcome. I disagree with this. Because it is off-topic in that thread, I'm starting up this one to discuss this further.
First let me give a summation of what I think the scientific method is.
1)You gather data.
2)You use that data to form a hypothesis.
3)You make a prediction with your hypothesis.
4)You do an experiment/gather more data to verify this prediction.
5)Depending on the outcome of the experiment, you either adapt, discard, or leave your hypothesis as is.
6)Return to step 3, rinse repeat...
Now, Slevesque, where in there does bias show it's ugly head?

I hunt for the truth
I am the one Orgasmatron, the outstretched grasping hand
My image is of agony, my servants rape the land
Obsequious and arrogant, clandestine and vain
Two thousand years of misery, of torture in my name
Hypocrisy made paramount, paranoia the law
My name is called religion, sadistic, sacred whore.
-Lyrics by Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead

Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by subbie, posted 11-19-2009 10:17 AM Huntard has not replied
 Message 4 by New Cat's Eye, posted 11-19-2009 10:37 AM Huntard has not replied
 Message 10 by slevesque, posted 11-19-2009 2:11 PM Huntard has not replied
 Message 14 by straightree, posted 11-22-2009 4:53 PM Huntard has not replied

  
Admin
Director
Posts: 13084
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 2 of 21 (536014)
11-19-2009 9:25 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Scientific method biased..? thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
subbie
Member (Idle past 1366 days)
Posts: 3509
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 3 of 21 (536021)
11-19-2009 10:17 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Huntard
11-19-2009 1:50 AM


I took his point to be the Kuhnian observation that the paradigm in which science is operating determines the questions that one finds relevant to ask. I suppose we can quibble about whether that consists of bias or not, but I think Kuhn's point was valid. What's more, I think it's self sustaining to a degree as well. My impression is that it's considerably harder to get funding to pay for research that challenges the current paradigm, whatever the field. (If someone with real world experience on this matter wants to correct my impression, I certainly wouldn't argue with them.) And arguably this operates as a type of bias as well.
I think the important point to make as far as Kuhnian paradigms and biology go, is that creationism had its day in the sun as the reigning paradigm, but was overthrown by Darwinian evolution.

Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus. -- Thomas Jefferson
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and non-believers. -- Barack Obama
We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Huntard, posted 11-19-2009 1:50 AM Huntard has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by slevesque, posted 11-19-2009 1:50 PM subbie has not replied
 Message 17 by Blue Jay, posted 11-22-2009 9:22 PM subbie has not replied

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 4 of 21 (536025)
11-19-2009 10:37 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Huntard
11-19-2009 1:50 AM


In the thread What is the point of this forum? Slevesque has argued that the scientific method is biased towards a particular outcome. I disagree with this. Because it is off-topic in that thread, I'm starting up this one to discuss this further.
First let me give a summation of what I think the scientific method is.
1)You gather data.
2)You use that data to form a hypothesis.
3)You make a prediction with your hypothesis.
4)You do an experiment/gather more data to verify this prediction.
5)Depending on the outcome of the experiment, you either adapt, discard, or leave your hypothesis as is.
6)Return to step 3, rinse repeat...
Now, Slevesque, where in there does bias show it's ugly head?
Steps 4 and 5. You can easily introduce bias in experimental design, what data you discard, and if/how you adapt your hypothesis.
Especially when the marketing department is asking you for scientific info that shows that our product is better than the others' products'

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Huntard, posted 11-19-2009 1:50 AM Huntard has not replied

  
ZenMonkey
Member (Idle past 4621 days)
Posts: 428
From: Portland, OR USA
Joined: 09-25-2009


Message 5 of 21 (536041)
11-19-2009 12:29 PM


Doesn't peer review play an important role here? Part of the standards for a successful experiment is that it be repeatable and verifiable. So unless one posits a world-wide cabal of Evilutionist Conspirators (TM) (as many creationists apparently do), then the system is self-correcting. You can't just go make up stuff as you go.

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by slevesque, posted 11-19-2009 1:52 PM ZenMonkey has not replied

  
Jon
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 6 of 21 (536046)
11-19-2009 1:12 PM


Send in the Biases
The scientific method is biased, like all frameworks are as they work upon a certain formation which as part of their very structure disallows the incorporation of components which cannot be identified, confirmed, or in some other way 'placed' within that framework.
The very structure of the scientific method, for example, makes it quite hostile to things such as (non-exhaustive): spooks, fantasies, wishes, dreams, bullshit, Biblical literalism, ignorance, obstinacy, non-empirically-derived conclusions, crap that is so obviously false, loosy-goosy philosophy, silliness, and Star Trek physics.
The bias of the scientific method exists because it is a method for answering questions that are relevant to the school of thought of materialism or empiricism - belief in the existence of only that which can be sensed. Someone who wishes to answer questions that are non-material or cannot be answered with empirical evidence will be unlikely to find the scientific method at all useful to their purpose. As a result, application of the scientific method in pursuit of their answer will result in an answer that does not fit their question but is instead biased to the empirical nature of the scientific method.
In short, if we want to know what is, was, and can be, the scientific method is a fine framework and tool; but if we are interested in fairy tales and other silly shit, the scientific method can be quite a heartless b*tch. Is it reality? Of course. Unbiased? Not in the least.
Jon

[O]ur tiny half-kilogram rock just compeltely fucked up our starship. - Rahvin

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by slevesque, posted 11-19-2009 1:55 PM Jon has replied

  
slevesque
Member (Idle past 4751 days)
Posts: 1456
Joined: 05-14-2009


(1)
(1)
Message 7 of 21 (536057)
11-19-2009 1:50 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by subbie
11-19-2009 10:17 AM


This seems pretty ressembling to what I was saying. (The kuhnian part, not the finance part. As obviously money will induce bias in science, but this is not due to the scientific method)
Edited by slevesque, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by subbie, posted 11-19-2009 10:17 AM subbie has not replied

  
slevesque
Member (Idle past 4751 days)
Posts: 1456
Joined: 05-14-2009


(1)
(1)
Message 8 of 21 (536058)
11-19-2009 1:52 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by ZenMonkey
11-19-2009 12:29 PM


Yeah well Percy said exactly the same thing on the other thread, and appealed to peer-review.
But I think it's more of a miscomprehension of what I was trying to say (see the subbie post for a good idea).

This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by ZenMonkey, posted 11-19-2009 12:29 PM ZenMonkey has not replied

  
slevesque
Member (Idle past 4751 days)
Posts: 1456
Joined: 05-14-2009


(1)
(1)
Message 9 of 21 (536059)
11-19-2009 1:55 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Jon
11-19-2009 1:12 PM


Re: Send in the Biases
This was just an awckward post and I don't think it brought up anything positive to the discussion other then how much you despise Creationism and Star Trek physics ...

This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Jon, posted 11-19-2009 1:12 PM Jon has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by Jon, posted 11-19-2009 8:21 PM slevesque has replied

  
slevesque
Member (Idle past 4751 days)
Posts: 1456
Joined: 05-14-2009


(1)
Message 10 of 21 (536062)
11-19-2009 2:11 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Huntard
11-19-2009 1:50 AM


First of all, I want to say that I didn't intend to say biased towards a particular, singular outcome.
Now, per se the scientific method isn't Biased. The issue lies more in what actually happens in reality when scientists do science. This is how I see it mostly:
1) You observe something, a phenomenon, etc. in nature
2) An idea pops into your mind about why this is, and/or what this implies. (The idea can sometimes come by it's own though)
3) You formulate this idea in the form of a hypothesis. You make a prediction
4) You imagine a way to test this prediction, and you do it.
5a) If the outcome is positive, the hypothesis stays the same. Test something else about it (if it has multiple facets)
5b) If the outcome is negative, then you will adapt your hypothesis to the very extent that it is adaptable. Only when unreconciliable with the data will you discard it.
6) Eventually promote it to theory.
In essence, this is what happens most of the time. We can already see some bias being induced by point 5b). A scientist likes his hypothesis, it is the fruit of his mind and he will keep it alive as long as possible. This does not mean that in some cases, oher data won't come around and completely falsify it, forcing it to be discarded. But I do think that in some cases it leaves place for bias.
An additional point must be made that this method works very well. Science hs been proving time and time again to be reliable in this manner, especially in operational science. I do think, however, that when it comes to historical science, a Bias is much more easier to induce itself, particularly in point no2.
I'll have to finish this a bit later today. I hope you find everything reasonable up to this point.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Huntard, posted 11-19-2009 1:50 AM Huntard has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by RAZD, posted 11-19-2009 11:02 PM slevesque has not replied

  
Jon
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 11 of 21 (536097)
11-19-2009 8:21 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by slevesque
11-19-2009 1:55 PM


Re: Send in the Biases
This was just an awckward post and I don't think it brought up anything positive to the discussion other then how much you despise Creationism and Star Trek physics ...
LOL. Whatever. Too bad you don't understand the scientific method.

[O]ur tiny half-kilogram rock just compeltely fucked up our starship. - Rahvin

This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by slevesque, posted 11-19-2009 1:55 PM slevesque has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by slevesque, posted 11-19-2009 10:21 PM Jon has not replied

  
slevesque
Member (Idle past 4751 days)
Posts: 1456
Joined: 05-14-2009


(1)
Message 12 of 21 (536116)
11-19-2009 10:21 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Jon
11-19-2009 8:21 PM


Re: Send in the Biases
You should give a thought to the fact that the primary founder of the scientific method, Francis Bacon, believed in ''fairy tales and other silly shit''.
But that's another topic, and as I can see you aren't very disposed to discussion at the moment.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Jon, posted 11-19-2009 8:21 PM Jon has not replied

  
RAZD
Member (Idle past 1516 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


(1)
Message 13 of 21 (536125)
11-19-2009 11:02 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by slevesque
11-19-2009 2:11 PM


Agreed
Hi slevesque,
I would have said 3 and 5 provide opportunities for biases and preconceptions to limit what you consider in formulating or reformulating the hypothesis.
3) You formulate this idea in the form of a hypothesis. You make a prediction
This formulation and prediction making are necessarily limited by your understanding and beliefs about reality. One of the ways to try to limit this is to form the anti-hypothesis and see if that can be falsified. However, you will be limited to not consider ideas that you don't think of, whether due to bias and preconception or just to lack of knowledge.
5b) If the outcome is negative, then you will adapt your hypothesis to the very extent that it is adaptable. Only when unreconciliable with the data will you discard it.
We can already see some bias being induced by point 5b). A scientist likes his hypothesis, it is the fruit of his mind and he will keep it alive as long as possible. This does not mean that in some cases, oher data won't come around and completely falsify it, forcing it to be discarded. But I do think that in some cases it leaves place for bias.
Agreed, this tendency is observed in practice, as is the tendency to stick to the current "model" when new theories come along:
Subbie Message 3: My impression is that it's considerably harder to get funding to pay for research that challenges the current paradigm, whatever the field.
If a person doesn't believe X is possible, they are not going to go through the trouble, time and expense to solicit funding to investigate and see if it is true.
Scientific organizations that fund research are not going to fund studies that their peer review group does not think will result in valid results.
Enjoy.

we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by slevesque, posted 11-19-2009 2:11 PM slevesque has not replied

  
straightree
Member (Idle past 4862 days)
Posts: 57
From: Near Olot, Spain
Joined: 09-26-2008


(1)
Message 14 of 21 (536392)
11-22-2009 4:53 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Huntard
11-19-2009 1:50 AM


When considering the scientific method, it helps a lot to listen to Karl Popper.
1. The scientific method creates an objective knowledge. When a scientist produces a theory that is published, it is no longer his. It belongs to society. It is an addition to the universal objective knowledge.
2. The scientist, not only relies in his experimentation, but in all pertinent published knowledge (objective knowledge). In fact there are theories produced by pure theorists, like Max Planck, founder of Quantum Mechanics, that was a theoretical physicist. Most of Darwin conclusions were worked out from other naturalist’s works.
3. No amount of positive confirmation is enough to validate any theory. One negative result suffices to invalidate it. For this reason, any theory needs to have the possibility to be falseated (proved false) in order to be scientific. Based on this, K. Popper, for instance, considered that Psychoanalysis was not science, because it was not possible to submit it to falseation process.
4. Theories are not true or false. They are approximations to truth.
All this for K. Popper. Now for me, and regarding the main subject of this thread, bias, I would call it a tendency for any theory to resists competing ones. It is quite natural, but at the end selection does its work. The same mentioned Max Planck, explains how he found great resistance for the new concepts of Physics, by the guardians of the old theories.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Huntard, posted 11-19-2009 1:50 AM Huntard has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by Coyote, posted 11-22-2009 7:17 PM straightree has replied
 Message 16 by Blue Jay, posted 11-22-2009 9:19 PM straightree has replied

  
Coyote
Member (Idle past 2217 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 15 of 21 (536399)
11-22-2009 7:17 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by straightree
11-22-2009 4:53 PM


Popper to Kuhn
...regarding the main subject of this thread, bias, I would call it a tendency for any theory to resists competing ones. It is quite natural, but at the end selection does its work. The same mentioned Max Planck, explains how he found great resistance for the new concepts of Physics, by the guardians of the old theories.
And this is well treated by Thomas Kuhn, in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by straightree, posted 11-22-2009 4:53 PM straightree has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by straightree, posted 11-23-2009 3:06 PM Coyote has not replied

  
Newer Topic | Older Topic
Jump to:


Copyright 2001-2023 by EvC Forum, All Rights Reserved

™ Version 4.2
Innovative software from Qwixotic © 2024