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Author Topic:   SCIENCE: -- "observational science" vs "historical science" vs ... science.
RAZD
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Message 1 of 614 (718371)
02-06-2014 12:09 PM


Ken Ham in his debate with Bill Nye said we need to break science into two parts

  1. "Observational Science" -- where scientific experiments can be conducted in real time with testable predictions, etc etc ... referring to the application of the scientific method through the use of our senses and what we can measure, etc, and
  2. "Historical Science" -- where experiments cannot be conducted in the past and thus cannot be properly tested ... and therefore -- according to creationists -- the scientific method cannot be used and results\observations cannot be taken as evidence.

And he wants us to discard "historical science" because "you weren't there"

Or something like that (feel free to correct me if I have misrepresented this).

So what is real science and do these two distinctions above really apply to sciences like paleontology and geology?

quote:
Science (from Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge"[1]) is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. ...

In modern usage, "science" most often refers to a way of pursuing knowledge, not only the knowledge itself. It is also often restricted to those branches of study that seek to explain the phenomena of the material universe. ...

Certainty and science

A scientific theory is empirical, and is always open to falsification if new evidence is presented. That is, no theory is ever considered strictly certain as science accepts the concept of fallibilism. ...


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

quote:
The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.[1] To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. ...

The chief characteristic which distinguishes the scientific method from other methods of acquiring knowledge is that scientists seek to let reality speak for itself, supporting a theory when a theory's predictions are confirmed and challenging a theory when its predictions prove false. Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, identifiable features distinguish scientific inquiry from other methods of obtaining knowledge. ...


Edited by RAZD, : ..

Edited by RAZD, : per comment


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RAZD
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Message 3 of 614 (718373)
02-06-2014 1:16 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Admin
02-06-2014 12:54 PM


understood. the part for the creationists is the "you weren't there" precept.

now revised for clarity

Edited by RAZD, : .


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RAZD
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Message 6 of 614 (718399)
02-06-2014 2:49 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Diomedes
02-06-2014 2:21 PM


What is science - what is the creationist view?
As far as I am concerned, the notions of historical science versus observational science are rubbish terms thrown out by Creationists in a vain attempt to divert attention away from their nonsensical claims.

Curiously, like microevolution and macroevolution, both these terms are used in science, albeit, again like microevolution and macroevolution, with specific meanings defined by science rather than the hopeless confusion of creationists.

It's the functional equivalent of their micro-evolution and macro-evolution tirades. Adjusting goalposts and skirting the issues in a last-ditch effort to save face.

It's a way they tell themselves (we aren't fooled) that one type is inferior to the other and not to be trusted -- radiological dating, geological age geology and evolution are particular targets for obvious reasons.

There is only science. Period. End of story. And for the record, saying one believes in micro-evolution and not macro-evolution is the functional equivalent of saying that one believes in yards but does not believe in miles.

Or parents but not remote ancestors.

As far as I am concerned, if the scientific method is used, observations or objective evidence is reviewed, hypothesis are generated to explain the evidence\observations, predictions are made and tested, and the result reviewed to see if the hypothesis is valid or invalid, then science is being done -- whether it is in a recognized field of study or not is immaterial to the process of doing science.

The scientific method has several steps:

http://teacher.pas.rochester.edu/...appendixe/appendixe.html
quote:
... The scientific method has four steps

  1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.
  2. Formulation of an hypothesis to explain the phenomena. In physics, the hypothesis often takes the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.
  3. Use of the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.
  4. Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments.

If the experiments bear out the hypothesis it may come to be regarded as a theory or law of nature (more on the concepts of hypothesis, model, theory and law below). If the experiments do not bear out the hypothesis, it must be rejected or modified. What is key in the description of the scientific method just given is the predictive power (the ability to get more out of the theory than you put in; see Barrow, 1991) of the hypothesis or theory, as tested by experiment. It is often said in science that theories can never be proved, only disproved. There is always the possibility that a new observation or a new experiment will conflict with a long-standing theory.


Key here, imho, is that a scientific theory has to have gone through these four steps at least once, and the hypothesis proves useful in predicting new knowledge.

No prediction = not science
No testing = hypothesis
Theory is an already tested hypothesis.

A similar view is seen here:

(although I would say "hypothesis valid" rather than true)

Background research precedes the hypothesis, and it involves objective empirical data where you know that the hypothesis is true, because you have derived the hypothesis from the data. Even when you start with a question, that is not the hypothesis, it structures how you do your background research to then use to derive your hypothesis.

Again from the above link:
http://teacher.pas.rochester.edu/...appendixe/appendixe.html

quote:
... Hypotheses, Models, Theories and Laws

In physics and other science disciplines, the words "hypothesis," "model," "theory" and "law" have different connotations in relation to the stage of acceptance or knowledge about a group of phenomena.

An hypothesis is a limited statement regarding cause and effect in specific situations; it also refers to our state of knowledge before experimental work has been performed and perhaps even before new phenomena have been predicted. ...

The word model is reserved for situations when it is known that the hypothesis has at least limited validity. ...

A scientific theory or law represents an hypothesis, or a group of related hypotheses, which has been confirmed through repeated experimental tests. ... The validity that we attach to scientific theories as representing realities of the physical world is to be contrasted with the facile invalidation implied by the expression, "It's only a theory." For example, it is unlikely that a person will step off a tall building on the assumption that they will not fall, because "Gravity is only a theory."


Again, we see that the scientific theory is a tested hypothesis that produces consistent positive results, and again we see that the hypothesis rests on cases of objective empirical evidence where the derived hypothesis is known to be true.

Now perhaps Faith or one of our other creationists, including our newbies, will choose to enlighten me on what limits some areas of study from being science.


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RAZD
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Message 8 of 614 (718409)
02-06-2014 3:10 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Faith
02-06-2014 2:54 PM


Re: Nonsense labels
Hi Faith,

Do you agree with the assessment above? If not why and what would you change?


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RAZD
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Message 11 of 614 (718415)
02-06-2014 3:20 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Diomedes
02-06-2014 3:14 PM


let's keep on topic please
Let's focus on the topic please rather than encouraging a shouting match

yes?


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RAZD
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Message 15 of 614 (718420)
02-06-2014 3:31 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Faith
02-06-2014 2:54 PM


From other thread
From Message 88 on Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham you said:

All I'm interested in here is the general principle that creationists are not antiscientific and have no problem with actual testable science and that the false accusation of antiscience is due to the failure to recognize that there is a real difference between the sciences of the untestable unwitnessed prehistoric past and the HARD sciences where you can replicate and test their claims. This really should be acknowledged.

So you are saying that if the science cannot replicate the observed phenomena that it isn't good science, and that all science needs to deal with witnessed phenomena -- is that fair?


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RAZD
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Message 17 of 614 (718422)
02-06-2014 3:34 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Theodoric
02-06-2014 3:24 PM


Re: let's keep on topic please
You are going to chastise Diomedes?

And anyone else that doesn't stick to the topic ... including you. If it doesn't add to the debate keep quiet.

Edited by RAZD, : /


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RAZD
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Message 26 of 614 (718438)
02-06-2014 4:39 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by Theodoric
02-06-2014 3:54 PM


Re: let's keep on topic please
and yet I see a lot of garbage being posted instead of a debate on the topic

your behavior is old and childish -- it disturbs me when I start a thread and then have to wade through post after post that are irrelevant and counter productive.

Do you really think that having 1 or 2 good responses in 25 posts is a productive debate?

Really?

So stop trolling and debate.


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RAZD
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Message 28 of 614 (718442)
02-06-2014 4:51 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by Faith
02-06-2014 3:51 PM


Let's use an example to explore this further
Thank you Faith.

As has been discussed recently already, forensic science does not deal with the PREHISTORIC UNWITNESSED PAST. There are witnesses of all kinds (I count written documents that relate to the crime to be witnesses) and ways of checking everything that has to do with the crime with people and documents and all kinds of known information about similar crimes. Anything that occurred in the historical past or the past shared by living people can be tested in all kinds of ways. ...

I am curious as to the actual extent of this and the criteria for deciding. Let me make an example to use for discussion:

Sample #1: the "Methuselah" tree a bristlecone pine living in the White Mountains in California.

We can observe this tree today, and we can make core samples and observe the ring patterns of dark, small cells and light, large cells that have grown in the tree.

Now I can count tree rings in this living tree and get a number of 4845 rings.

Now it is commonly known that trees produce growth rings every year. So what can we conclude from this data that we observe today?


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RAZD
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Message 30 of 614 (718445)
02-06-2014 5:08 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by Parasomnium
02-06-2014 3:39 PM


Re: How about forensic science? -- not on prehistoric unwitnessed events?
If creationists want to discard "historical science", shouldn't they do away with forensic science as well? After all, forensic science deals with, for example, murder scenes where the murder took place in the past, and the forensic scientists weren't there at the time. So, how can they draw any valid conclusions about the murderer?

Faith draws a line between what could reasonable be witnessed or documented by people (without saying how far back this goes) and what would be prehistoric.

What I wonder about the line she draws is how she then explains the fantastic cave art in France and Spain where there are documented scenes of prehistoric life and animals.

Yet, with the advent of DNA-analysis we see cold cases being solved conclusively one after another.

When you get back to the point where DNA samples are not obtainable then this line of evidence is not so useful.

It is a bit naive of creationists not to see the value of the scientific method for all kinds of science.

Well that is the issue isn't it? If I can make an hypothesis from observations of existing data (fossils, sedimentary layers etc etc etc) and then TEST the hypothesis to see if it is valid or invalid then it is science yes?

What Faith (and Ham and other creationists) apparently claims is that IF the events in the past can not be REPRODUCED that then they cannot be tested.

Now we can take issue with this as being overly simplistic in regard to the requirements of science, but I would like to discuss this with Faith and see where she draws the lines and whether they make sense.


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RAZD
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Message 36 of 614 (718607)
02-07-2014 7:15 PM
Reply to: Message 28 by RAZD
02-06-2014 4:51 PM


bump for faith
Thank you Faith.

As has been discussed recently already, forensic science does not deal with the PREHISTORIC UNWITNESSED PAST. There are witnesses of all kinds (I count written documents that relate to the crime to be witnesses) and ways of checking everything that has to do with the crime with people and documents and all kinds of known information about similar crimes. Anything that occurred in the historical past or the past shared by living people can be tested in all kinds of ways. ...

I am curious as to the actual extent of this and the criteria for deciding. Let me make an example to use for discussion:

Sample #1: the "Methuselah" tree a bristlecone pine living in the White Mountains in California.

We can observe this tree today, and we can make core samples and observe the ring patterns of dark, small cells and light, large cells that have grown in the tree.

Now I can count tree rings in this living tree and get a number of 4845 rings.

Now it is commonly known that trees produce growth rings every year. So what can we conclude from this data that we observe today?

Do you agree that counting the tree rings is witnessing the empirical data in the tree?


we are limited in our ability to understand
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RAZD
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(3)
Message 41 of 614 (718623)
02-07-2014 8:52 PM
Reply to: Message 38 by Faith
02-07-2014 7:52 PM


Re: Let's use an example to explore this further
Obviously we have to hypothesize that the pre-Flood world produced tree rings at a greater rate. In fact the idea is that there weren't even seasons back then, so the trees just grew according to some internal clock of their own, and when the climate changed after the Flood the production of rings would have been tied to the seasons.

So you agree that the rings are objective evidence that we can count.

You do realize

  1. that there is no discernible difference in the rings produced, so you are claiming that the "pre-flood" rings magically mimic precisely what we would see from annual rings -- that the evidence was made to lead people to false conclusions.
  2. that the variation in ring thicknesses correlate with climate, so that if there were a substantial difference in climate as you are suggesting that there should be substantial differences in the rings ... unless they are created to portray a falsehood.
  3. that Bristlecone pines do not survive under water for a year, yet this tree and several others in the same area lived continuously through their extensive lives
    1. the "Prometheus" tree (aka WPN-114), with 4862 measured and counted tree rings of when cut down in 1964 for research, however this is a minimum number because the core of the tree is missing,
    2. the "Schulman" tree (my name for the tree because Schulman took the core and he was a pioneer in dendrochronology in the area), with 5,264 tree rings today,
    3. the "Ancient Sentinels" - standing dead trees, with over 7,000 tree rings.
    4. there are pieces of dead wood lying on the mountain top in the same area.

  4. all these pieces of trees and dead wood can be matched ring for ring into a continuous chronology extending to over 8,700 tree rings
  5. the location is not that far from the Grand Canyon, where you posit massive flows laying down sediment, yet there is no such deposits over these trees

And that is just for starters. I notice that there are several rather severe problems for your explanations: to be consistent we should see the evidence of massive sedimentation in these locations that should have buried all vegetation older than the flood, the dead wood pieces that are older than your flood date should have been carried away by the flood, and that your fantasy about a different climate before the flood doesn't explain how this evidence survived the flood ... contradictions Faith that you need to explain, ... or change your hypothesis.


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RAZD
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(1)
Message 45 of 614 (718632)
02-07-2014 10:22 PM
Reply to: Message 40 by Faith
02-07-2014 8:50 PM


Thanks Faith

I assume he means what I've been meaning about the unwitnessed / prehistoric / unobservable past. It's not that you are to "discard" it, because it's all you have for the U/P/U past, but the problem is that you treat it as the equivalent of testable science instead of realizing that it's not. ...

Do you agree that we can make observations of this evidence and form hypothesis regarding it ... hypothesis that could explain it?

... In fact you even call your speculations and imaginations and cogitations and hypotheses about the past "Fact." THAT's the problem. ...

So you do agree that we can call them hypothesis, hypothesis that are based on the observed evidence, yes?

... An honest recognition that the past is not knowable with such certainty is what is required of you. ...

So it's okay with you if we say they are hypothesis?

... Oh not that you can't know some things, which I've acknowledged, the fact that an animal unknown to us today lived in the past for instance, but your scenarios, your ideas about what happened in the past, your theory of evolution, that fossils higher in the geologic column are genetically descended from lower fossils for instance, ...

So you would agree that there are many organisms that lived in the prehistoric past.

Do you agree that the locations of these fossils and layers don't contradict the hypothesis?

... and the problem with that is that instead of recognizing its untestability and unprovability you insist it's true and call it Fact. Though it's only a mental construction. Based on a bunch of fossilized bones.They apply to all hypotheses about what happened in the U/P/U past.

So it's okay to say it is an hypothesis, yes?

Then stop calling the ToE "Fact."

Again I remind you that I don't claim any theory is fact, and the theory of evolution is no different than the theory of gravity or the string theory ... or any scientific theory.

What is fact is that we see the process of evolution in virtually all breeding populations around the world. There seems to be confusion about these two things -- conflating them, rather than distinguishing one as evidence and the other as theory.

Then stop calling the ToE "Fact."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

quote:
The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.[1] To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. ...
The chief characteristic which distinguishes the scientific method from other methods of acquiring knowledge is that scientists seek to let reality speak for itself, supporting a theory when a theory's predictions are confirmed '

Which can only be done in the "hard" sciences, and not in the historical interpretive sciences about the unwitnessed prehistoric unobservable past.

So if we can let reality speak for itself then it is a "hard" science, yes?

This is a lot of blah blah. Definitions evade the point I'm trying to make, and that is confirmed by the article Rox posted about how Geology is an interpretative historical science, it's not a hard science, it's not a science that is built on laboratory testing as physics is, as chemistry is, etc. The ToE is at best an hypothesis about the U/P/U past which cannot be tested or proved.

Well if we don't agree on definitions then it is difficult to know if we are discussing the same thing in the same way, don't you agree? Curiously, I don't think it is much to ask that words be used to mean the same thing from different camps in a debate.

You do agree that we can form hypothesis to explain the geological formations yes?

Would you agree that if some information contradicted the hypothesis that it would be falsified, shown to be wrong?


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RAZD
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(1)
Message 68 of 614 (718712)
02-08-2014 4:00 PM
Reply to: Message 66 by Dr Adequate
02-08-2014 3:28 PM


forensic science into the deep past
With the Stegosaurus, the bones are not history, they are an element of the present, operational, experimental.

Well, exactly --- the evidence is in the present, the thing it's evidence for is in the past. But people like Ham want to divide science not according to the nature of the evidence, but according to the time when the thing it's evidence for occurred.

Certainly anything we can measure and document and classify in the present is repeatable and part of operational observational science.

And this is the problem for creationist positions on (pre)historical sciences, because what we know of the history is what we can measure and document and classify in the present, and this is repeatable and part of operational observational science

Do we need to repeat the past to test hypothesis regarding the past? No, we just need predictions that can be tested ... and these can be predictions of things we should see in the past that hasn't yet been observed (validation), or what we should not see in new observations of the past (falsification).

All validation results result in higher confidence in the hypothesis, rather than prove them.

Creationism -- if it requires different behavior rather than predicts it -- needs to demonstrate that it did occur, how it occurred and how it affected all the evidence.

Edited by RAZD, : .st


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RAZD
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(1)
Message 78 of 614 (719216)
02-12-2014 8:30 AM
Reply to: Message 76 by Faith
02-12-2014 3:21 AM


Back to Bristlecones
I missed your reply to Message 41:

quote:
Obviously we have to hypothesize that the pre-Flood world produced tree rings at a greater rate. In fact the idea is that there weren't even seasons back then, so the trees just grew according to some internal clock of their own, and when the climate changed after the Flood the production of rings would have been tied to the seasons.

So you agree that the rings are objective evidence that we can count.

You do realize

  1. that there is no discernible difference in the rings produced, so you are claiming that the "pre-flood" rings magically mimic precisely what we would see from annual rings -- that the evidence was made to lead people to false conclusions.
  2. that the variation in ring thicknesses correlate with climate, so that if there were a substantial difference in climate as you are suggesting that there should be substantial differences in the rings ... unless they are created to portray a falsehood.
  3. that Bristlecone pines do not survive under water for a year, yet this tree and several others in the same area lived continuously through their extensive lives
    1. the "Prometheus" tree (aka WPN-114), with 4862 measured and counted tree rings of when cut down in 1964 for research, however this is a minimum number because the core of the tree is missing,
    2. the "Schulman" tree (my name for the tree because Schulman took the core and he was a pioneer in dendrochronology in the area), with 5,264 tree rings today,
    3. the "Ancient Sentinels" - standing dead trees, with over 7,000 tree rings.
    4. there are pieces of dead wood lying on the mountain top in the same area.

  4. all these pieces of trees and dead wood can be matched ring for ring into a continuous chronology extending to over 8,700 tree rings
  5. the location is not that far from the Grand Canyon, where you posit massive flows laying down sediment, yet there is no such deposits over these trees

And that is just for starters. I notice that there are several rather severe problems for your explanations: to be consistent we should see the evidence of massive sedimentation in these locations that should have buried all vegetation older than the flood, the dead wood pieces that are older than your flood date should have been carried away by the flood, and that your fantasy about a different climate before the flood doesn't explain how this evidence survived the flood ... contradictions Faith that you need to explain, ... or change your hypothesis.


In addition please note that the tree rings can be tied to historic events in written history and I can provide you with this information if you are interested.

So where is the flood time and how do you identify it in the tree ring record?

When do I need to stop counting and measuring ring width, and how do I know?

Edited by RAZD, : ..


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This message is a reply to:
 Message 76 by Faith, posted 02-12-2014 3:21 AM Faith has not yet responded

  
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