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Author Topic:   Induction and Science
nwr
Member
Posts: 5585
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 1 of 744 (283928)
02-04-2006 2:36 PM


  • Yesterday, I bumped into Betty Crowe. She was wearing black shoes.
  • Two weeks ago, I was introduced to John Crowe. I happened to notice that he was wearing black shoes.
  • Bob Crowe was one of my high school friends. As I recall, he wore black shoes.

    All the Crowes I have observed have been wearing black shoes. Therefore all Crowes are wearing black shoes.


  • The above is an example of the "reasoning" principle known as inductive logic. It is absurd. Nobody would jump to the conclusion that all Crowes are wearing black shoes. There is nothing logical about so-called inductive logic.

    Why do people still cling to the myth that science uses induction? Why is there an appearance that induction seems to work, and why are people misled by this appearance?

    (suggest "Is It Science")


    Replies to this message:
     Message 3 by Chiroptera, posted 02-04-2006 2:43 PM nwr has responded
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     Message 7 by Modulous, posted 02-04-2006 3:06 PM nwr has responded
     Message 10 by PaulK, posted 02-04-2006 3:38 PM nwr has responded
     Message 33 by crashfrog, posted 02-05-2006 3:06 AM nwr has responded
     Message 36 by mark24, posted 02-05-2006 4:29 AM nwr has responded
     Message 37 by ohnhai, posted 02-05-2006 8:50 AM nwr has acknowledged this reply
     Message 39 by jar, posted 02-05-2006 2:19 PM nwr has responded
     Message 83 by inkorrekt, posted 02-11-2006 5:04 PM nwr has acknowledged this reply
     Message 127 by 2ice_baked_taters, posted 02-24-2006 1:12 AM nwr has acknowledged this reply
     Message 159 by Straggler, posted 11-09-2010 7:25 PM nwr has responded
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    AdminJar
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    Message 2 of 744 (283931)
    02-04-2006 2:41 PM


    Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
      
    Chiroptera
    Member
    Posts: 6565
    From: Oklahoma
    Joined: 09-28-2003
    Member Rating: 4.8


    Message 3 of 744 (283932)
    02-04-2006 2:43 PM
    Reply to: Message 1 by nwr
    02-04-2006 2:36 PM


    quote:
    The above is an example of the "reasoning" principle known as inductive logic. It is absurd.

    And yet, that is how science works. Is there a theory in any field of science that did not come about in that manner?


    "Intellectually, scientifically, even artistically, fundamentalism -- biblical literalism -- is a road to nowhere, because it insists on fidelity to revealed truths that are not true." -- Katha Pollitt
    This message is a reply to:
     Message 1 by nwr, posted 02-04-2006 2:36 PM nwr has responded

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    Modulous
    Member (Idle past 242 days)
    Posts: 7789
    From: Manchester, UK
    Joined: 05-01-2005


    Message 4 of 744 (283935)
    02-04-2006 2:55 PM
    Reply to: Message 1 by nwr
    02-04-2006 2:36 PM


    Induction
  • Yesterday, I bumped into Betty Crowe. She was wearing black shoes.
  • Two weeks ago, I was introduced to John Crowe. I happened to notice that he was wearing black shoes.
  • Bob Crowe was one of my high school friends. As I recall, he wore black shoes.

    Tentative conclusion: all Crowes are wearing black shoes.
    Test: Find more Crowes and see if they are wearing black shoes.
    The more Crowes we find with black shoes the stronger our conclusion
    Falsification: If we find one Crowe with non-black shoes

  • For every action there is a an equal and opposite reaction.

    Can we be sure that this will apply tommorrow? Or that it applies to all things that happen in Alpha Centauri?


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    Chiroptera
    Member
    Posts: 6565
    From: Oklahoma
    Joined: 09-28-2003
    Member Rating: 4.8


    Message 5 of 744 (283937)
    02-04-2006 2:59 PM
    Reply to: Message 4 by Modulous
    02-04-2006 2:55 PM


    Re: Induction
    quote:
    For every action there is a an equal and opposite reaction.

    I also like the "Law" of Conservation of Energy, which we accept only because we have never seen it violated.


    "Intellectually, scientifically, even artistically, fundamentalism -- biblical literalism -- is a road to nowhere, because it insists on fidelity to revealed truths that are not true." -- Katha Pollitt
    This message is a reply to:
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    nwr
    Member
    Posts: 5585
    From: Geneva, Illinois
    Joined: 08-08-2005


    Message 6 of 744 (283938)
    02-04-2006 3:05 PM
    Reply to: Message 3 by Chiroptera
    02-04-2006 2:43 PM


    And yet, that is how science works.

    I disagree.

    It is how philosophers claim that science works. But most philosophers do not actually do science, so have no basis for making such assertions.

    You might enjoy reading "Against Method" (book by Paul Feyerabend). His proposal of counter-induction is a riot.

    [I will be suggesting alternatives to induction. But I first need to respond to some posts on induction from What we must accept if we accept evolution Part 2 (roughly messages 237-248 in that thread).]


    This message is a reply to:
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    Modulous
    Member (Idle past 242 days)
    Posts: 7789
    From: Manchester, UK
    Joined: 05-01-2005


    Message 7 of 744 (283939)
    02-04-2006 3:06 PM
    Reply to: Message 1 by nwr
    02-04-2006 2:36 PM


    Another thing that science does with this kind of logic is explore whether it is reasonable to make the inductive leap. Is it reasonable to consider that all Crowes wear exclusively black footwear? If we had some theory as to why they might all wear black footwear, then we can make the induction.

    In this case, it is not particulary reasonable to make that leap. We have never seen a family-name being linked 100% with a fashion, so we cannot make the inductive leap that family-names and fashion tastes are linked somehow.


    This message is a reply to:
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    nwr
    Member
    Posts: 5585
    From: Geneva, Illinois
    Joined: 08-08-2005


    Message 8 of 744 (283942)
    02-04-2006 3:26 PM


    Response to messages in older thread.
    In Message 247, Modulous wrote:
    Are you (or is wiki) claiming that no albino crow has ever been observed? That would surely be surprising and worthy of investigation.

    Must you take it so literally?


    If we change the inductive conclusion to "All crows are black, excepting those which are not black", then I grant the correctness of the conclusion. But it is no longer induction, it is tautology.

    If I was to show you the classic: All red cars are fast, my car is red, therefore my car is fast syllogism you would say "Not all cars are red!"

    The logic there is impeccable. The problem is with one of the premises.

    In Message 245, Faith wrote:

    And I have to ask, so that leaves only deduction as a valid logical method?

    Not so. It also leaves empirical methodology, and that is the heart of science.

    If induction is the key to science, then science proceeds by feeding symbolic facts into some kind of induction logic engine, and out come general truths. This has actually been tried. There is a whole research area, know as "machine learning", based on such inductive methodology. It hasn't produced anything close to what science achieves, nor to what children achieve as learners.


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    nwr
    Member
    Posts: 5585
    From: Geneva, Illinois
    Joined: 08-08-2005


    Message 9 of 744 (283943)
    02-04-2006 3:34 PM
    Reply to: Message 7 by Modulous
    02-04-2006 3:06 PM


    Is it reasonable?
    Is it reasonable to consider that all Crowes wear exclusively black footwear?

    No, it isn't reasonable. But why not? Isn't that something philosophers, the self-appointed experts on reason, should have investigated?

    In this case, it is not particulary reasonable to make that leap. We have never seen a family-name being linked 100% with a fashion, so we cannot make the inductive leap that family-names and fashion tastes are linked somehow.

    That was Nelson Goodman's explanation of his "grue" paradox. But it cannot explain science. If science depends on induction, but you only use inductions of the type that have worked before, then there is no way to get started and no way to get started in a new branch of science.
    This message is a reply to:
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    PaulK
    Member
    Posts: 14947
    Joined: 01-10-2003
    Member Rating: 3.0


    Message 10 of 744 (283945)
    02-04-2006 3:38 PM
    Reply to: Message 1 by nwr
    02-04-2006 2:36 PM


    Two examples is nowhere near sufficient for induction to be useful.

    Yet there is no other way of identifying true regularities than by repeated observation. And it is from identifying regularities that science builds up it's picture of the workings of the natural universe.

    Induction, applied properly, works and is essential to science.


    This message is a reply to:
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    Modulous
    Member (Idle past 242 days)
    Posts: 7789
    From: Manchester, UK
    Joined: 05-01-2005


    Message 11 of 744 (283947)
    02-04-2006 3:41 PM
    Reply to: Message 8 by nwr
    02-04-2006 3:26 PM


    Re: Response to messages in older thread.
    If we change the inductive conclusion to "All crows are black, excepting those which are not black", then I grant the correctness of the conclusion. But it is no longer induction, it is tautology.

    The conclusion isn't a certainty. Its tentative. The conclusion is that 'all crows are black, but we might change our mind in the future should any non-black crows turn up'. That's scientific induction.

    The logic there is impeccable. The problem is with one of the premises.

    Right, and the problem with the first problem was that we had only observed black crows. You piped up with "Are you saying we have never seen an albino crow?". That's not the point, there is no need to take the statement "We have observed only black crows" literally.

    Not so. It also leaves empirical methodology, and that is the heart of science.

    Yes, but what is empirical methodology. Doesn't the methodology include making inductions? We observe a small subset of events and make general conclusions about all events that share the same properties.


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    Modulous
    Member (Idle past 242 days)
    Posts: 7789
    From: Manchester, UK
    Joined: 05-01-2005


    Message 12 of 744 (283949)
    02-04-2006 3:44 PM
    Reply to: Message 9 by nwr
    02-04-2006 3:34 PM


    Re: Is it reasonable?
    That was Nelson Goodman's explanation of his "grue" paradox. But it cannot explain science. If science depends on induction, but you only use inductions of the type that have worked before, then there is no way to get started and no way to get started in a new branch of science.

    You seem to think that the position is that science is ONLY based on induction. Not so. Induction is used, deduction is used.

    No, it isn't reasonable. But why not? Isn't that something philosophers, the self-appointed experts on reason, should have investigated?

    I said why not:

    quote:
    We have never seen a family-name being linked 100% with a fashion, so we cannot make the inductive leap that family-names and fashion tastes are linked somehow.

    This message is a reply to:
     Message 9 by nwr, posted 02-04-2006 3:34 PM nwr has responded

    Replies to this message:
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    nwr
    Member
    Posts: 5585
    From: Geneva, Illinois
    Joined: 08-08-2005


    Message 13 of 744 (283952)
    02-04-2006 3:56 PM


    The irony of it all
    Here we are as an evolution site. Okay, it is an evolution vs. creation site. But the scientists here are mostly proponents of evolution.

    If ToE is correct, then biological system have been very effective in creating a diverse biosphere, and they have done it all without using induction. So why is it that the evolutionists are insisting on the importance of induction?


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    Modulous
    Member (Idle past 242 days)
    Posts: 7789
    From: Manchester, UK
    Joined: 05-01-2005


    Message 14 of 744 (283953)
    02-04-2006 4:04 PM
    Reply to: Message 13 by nwr
    02-04-2006 3:56 PM


    Re: The irony of it all
    Clint is a chimp.
    His DNA is 96% to the sampled human DNA
    Observation: When we look at a species' DNA, they tend to have such similarities that we can consider them the same.
    Induction: All chimpanzee DNA is 96% similar to all human DNA.

    Ironic, science isn't it. Its almost like it insists that it can never arrive at definite conclusions about anything. Its almost like tentativity and falsification are practically built into the concept of science.

    Personally, I think the reason for tentativeness of science is because it makes inductive general statements about the world and the universe, based on a small subset of observations.

    Perhaps you can show me how induction isn't made by science?


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    Chiroptera
    Member
    Posts: 6565
    From: Oklahoma
    Joined: 09-28-2003
    Member Rating: 4.8


    Message 15 of 744 (283957)
    02-04-2006 4:11 PM
    Reply to: Message 6 by nwr
    02-04-2006 3:05 PM


    quote:
    It is how philosophers claim that science works.

    It's also how most scientists claim science works.

    --

    quote:
    You might enjoy reading "Against Method" (book by Paul Feyerabend).

    Yes, I did enjoy it.

    -

    I would also like to know what you mean by "empirical methodology".


    "Intellectually, scientifically, even artistically, fundamentalism -- biblical literalism -- is a road to nowhere, because it insists on fidelity to revealed truths that are not true." -- Katha Pollitt
    This message is a reply to:
     Message 6 by nwr, posted 02-04-2006 3:05 PM nwr has acknowledged this reply

      
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