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Author Topic:   Applying Science to Past Events
Unknown
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Message 331 of 354 (145267)
09-28-2004 1:00 AM


Message lost, sorry
  
Nachtwolf
Inactive Member


Message 332 of 354 (145268)
09-28-2004 1:00 AM


quote:
Do I dare call you "Nightwolf"? Or call you "Wolfie" in a german accent?

To be perfectly literal, that depends on how daring you are, although I imagine you'd have to be rather cowardly to fear translating my handle from one language to another. "Wolfie" might require somewhat more temerity, and anyway is not in a German accent; that would be "Volfie." Just so long as you refrain from calling me "Natchwolf" as the gibbering simians on other boards have done, you'll probably be fine.

quote:
Anyway, by breaking your silence you have started down the wild path that all of us are on now. Enjoy your stay.

I'm not likely to post here much, and in any case I haven't broken any silence; I had 4 hours to kill last Thursday and found this thread by doing a Google search on the terms science tentativity. The other posters offerred little of interest, but I read through your posts and then responded.

For the most part, I'm unlikely to post here much longer, as I am always busy with my own bulletin board, with my schoolwork (I'm a physics major) and with the book I'm writing on psychometrics, though I seem to have developed a cold and have thus been spending my Saturday in a rather lighthearted manner.

quote:
However, the theory that the molecular mass, charge, and polarity of water factor into it's boiling point is testable. Therefore, the scientific method is in effect throughout. It is also not 100% fact that we are able to measure atomic masses, polarity, and charge.

Yes.

quote:
It is all tentative down to the metaphysical position of a non-Descartian universe. That is, we can't tell if we are living a "dream within a dream" and therefore we assume that we are not.

This actually highlights one of the weaknesses of the scientific method, as it is unable to deal with solipsism. Really, the entire scientific method is over-formal; science strictly speaking cannot proceed if there is only one individual around with the necessary biological endowments to apply it, because corroboration cannot occur in this case. The limitations of science are great enough that many (such as Michael Shermer in How We Believe) go so far as to say that the "God hypothesis" is insoluble. Strictly speaking, the question of God's existence is not scientifically insoluble, though it is much easier to evaluate with rationalistic processes that do not depend so heavily on observation. This is why I'm scornful of thinkers like Hawking, who are so dependent on evidence from the senses that they wander blithely into Positivism and then when it is pointed out that they have done so can only answer, lamely, "What's wrong with Positivism?"

Reason is itself something like a "sixth sense," and this is readily apparent when comparing individuals of greatly differing intelligence levels. For instance, only those who have passed through Piaget's "Concrete Operational Stage" realize that five pennies are still five pennies even after you've shifted them around, and Francis Galton encountered an African tribe (The Damara) with such severely limited intelligence that they were unable to confidently say that 2+2=4. It's readily apparent that Reason can grant information just like any other sense can, and thus in my opinion ought to be included, at least informally, in any objective method for reaching the truth.

--Mark

This message has been edited by Nachtwolf, 10-02-2004 04:14 PM


Unknown
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Message 333 of 354 (145269)
09-28-2004 1:00 AM


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Percy
Member
Posts: 18370
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 334 of 354 (145270)
09-28-2004 1:00 AM


Robert Byers writes:

Yet in Origin subjects it is being claimed thier theories are based on the Method. So we say No their is no justification to say thier is a theory.

Does what you said make sense, even to you?

The difference between hypothesis and theory is only one of degree. They are basically the same thing, a general rule derived from observation and experimental data. Probably the biggest difference is the degree of support and acceptance. One refers to hypotheses that have a lot of support and acceptance as theories. Hypotheses that haven't yet been tested, or that have been tested but not replicated by other scientists, or that perhaps are controversial, remain referred to as hypothesis. And it's not even as simple as that, because terminology preferences follow no precise rules. But other than the degree of support and acceptance, there is no difference between hypothesis and theory.

About the traffic jam we've been on a roundabout.
Interesting point however is you said your hypothesis failed but it still qualifys as the Method.
Yet if the hypothesis failed then the method failed to bring theory so any theory you have isn't based on the Method.

You remain confused, and making things more complicated is that I can't tell what in the above quote is something you understand but have expressed poorly in English, or if it instead reflects a fundamental misunderstanding. So I'm going to address everything you said above, even though parts of it may be correct.

Examining you phrase, "your hypothesis failed but it still qualifys as the Method." First, an hypothesis and the Scientific Method are two different things. An hypothesis cannot "qualify as the Method." An hypothesis is not a method. It is an hypothesis.

Second, there is no requirement that the hypothesis succeed. You can follow the method and still end up with a failed hypothesis. This possibility is part of the method. Let's look at the method again:

  1. Make observations and gather data.
  2. Form a hypothesis.
  3. Make some predictions based upon that hypothesis.
  4. Test the hypothesis by checking the predictions.
  5. If necessary, modify the hypothesis and return to step 3.
  6. If the tests pass, then the hypothesis is verified, but still must be replicated by other scientists before it can be considered accepted theory.

Notice steps 4 and 5: test the hypothesis and check the predictions. If the predictions were wrong, then you return to step 3, form a hypothesis.

And that's what I've been doing with regard to traffic on Route 3. I observe that there are often traffic jams on Route 3 (step 1) So I form the hypothesis that if it rains, there will be a traffic jam on Route 3 during rush hour (step 2). I predict that if the hypothesis is true, then when it rains, Route 3 should be jammed 9 or 10 times out of 10 (step 3). I test this prediction by recording the level of traffic on Route 3 the next ten times it rains (step 4). I find that Route 3 traffic is jammed when it rains during rush hour only 5 times out of 10. The hypothesis does not better than flipping a coin, and the prediction fails (step 5). So now I return to step 3. I've been following the method perfectly.

Now lets examine where you say, "Yet if the hypothesis failed then the method failed to bring theory so any theory you have isn't based on the Method."

Just because I never got to the last step doesn't mean I didn't follow the method. I may never work out a satisfactory hypothesis, there may just be too many variables. But I still followed the method.

Think about what you're saying. If I play a game of chess and lose, does that mean I didn't follow the rules? Of course not. Well, it's the same thing for the scientific method. If I use the scientific method to try to develop a hypothesis, but never arrive at a satisifacory hypothesis, does that mean I didn't follow the method? No, of course not.

Perhaps this what is confusing us all.

Robert, repeat after me: "I am the only one who is confused."

My point is origins theories (the conclusions they insist on) have not used the method. And indeed because they are past events it is difficult to do so although indeed with enough info one could as your baseball analagy led me to it. Your traffic analagy though indicates your point is the Method is and can be used in origin subjects. And so it was used.

This reads like you're contradicting yourself, so I have no idea what you're trying to say. Are you saying that you now accept that the scientific method can be used on past events?

Added by edit: You have a reply over at Message 189.

--Percy

This message has been edited by Percy, 10-03-2004 11:42 AM


Replies to this message:
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Unknown
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Message 335 of 354 (145271)
09-28-2004 1:00 AM


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Unknown
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Message 336 of 354 (145272)
09-28-2004 1:00 AM


quote:
Right on . There is assumption going on about the same systems applied in the past.
While the intimate details of our reproduction were past unwitnessed events. Still for all intents it is a present observed thing.

How can it be for all intents an observed thing? Do you know how many conception events have been observed? It is hardly an observed thing. The mechanism of sexual reproduction rests upon the assumptions that the few observed events (and evidence from other sources i.e. transmission of traits), apply in all cases.

quote:
Yet when dealing with past and gone events the evidence becomes less.
So assumptions lose thier power and right to claim confidence.

So is it your assertion that dogs, humans, fish did not reproduce sexually and via DNA, transmit traits from parent to offspring 10,000 years ago? 5,000? Last year? At what point do you assert that the mechanisms observed in all organisms living (and for studies of ancient DNA up to 100,000 years back) magically did not operate and based on what evidence or assumption reconcilable with natural observation?

quote:
Assumptions so well demonstrated in the present (as reproduction) must demonstrate thier legitamacy for past/future events.
And they can't claim to be an observed, tested thing.

Except that in the one case, you accept the assumption that sexual reproduction results in offspring related genetically to their parents based on few observations yet deny that observed relatedeness among species could indicate shared common ancestry based on many more observations and multiple independent lines of evidence. According to your logic, you still would have to deny that you are in any way related to your parents and in fact, arose by spontaneous generation..of course, without evidence and contrary to all observations made thus far with regard to heredity and reproduction. But given, it was not an observed event, according to you, there is no reason to posit that you are related to your parents regardless of whatever indirect evidence from DNA to morphology supports your relatedenes. Since spontaneous generation has never been observed, I have to then believe you do not exist


Replies to this message:
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Loudmouth
Inactive Member


Message 337 of 354 (145273)
09-28-2004 1:00 AM


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Unknown
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Message 338 of 354 (145274)
09-28-2004 1:00 AM


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Loudmouth
Inactive Member


Message 339 of 354 (145275)
09-28-2004 1:00 AM


quote:
However in Origin subjects or anything if the data is incomplete to such an extent that the Method fails to suggest a theory then No theory should be claimed. SO Origins stuff.

Origin studies are in their infant stages. They are working with very nebulous hypotheses right now. In fact, there are several competing hypotheses. They are still arguing over an RNA world, a DNA world, or a Protein/DNA world, or a combination of all three. And again, they are trying to find plausible explanations for how life can emerge from non life. However, they have no way of saying that this is exactly how life arose since we have so little knowledge of the earth at that time. The scientific method is applied to the construction of plausible explanations, not to the actual event since the data from that time, with respect to origins, is even worse than incomplete.

quote:
You said the point of the Method is to construct plausible explanations for observed phenomena.
This is not our discussion. Our contention is about whether Origin theories are based on the scientific method!

Observation: Life arose on earth millions of years ago with the first fossils representing simple, single celled organisms.

Hypothesis: Life may come about from simple chemical reactions.

Test 1: The oldest fossils will be the simplest organisms. This is tested on a continual basis as new fossils are found in pre-cambrian strata.

Test 2: Create a self replicating chemical reaction that is capable of evolving. This test is what is currently being done.

Test 3: Find evidence of the first life on the earth. This test is inaccessible because the evidence has been destroyed.

Conclusion: Can't make a strong conclusion yet. Test number 2 is on going. However, test 1 does support the hypothesis but this is not enough to draw a conclusion.

There, the scientific method in progress.

quote:
One can hypothesis all one wants too and we would say this is TOE. However Toe claims to have been thru the method and as a result is a scietific theory.

The evidence supporting evolution has not been destroyed. It is present in the form of fossils found in the earth and the DNA found in living species. These represent a set of objective data to which the scientific method can be applied.


Unknown
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Message 340 of 354 (145276)
09-28-2004 1:00 AM


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Unknown
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Message 341 of 354 (145277)
09-28-2004 1:00 AM


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Unknown
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Message 342 of 354 (145278)
09-28-2004 1:00 AM


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Robert Byers
Member (Idle past 2476 days)
Posts: 640
From: Toronto,canada
Joined: 02-06-2004


Message 343 of 354 (147556)
10-05-2004 3:14 PM
Reply to: Message 336 by Unknown
09-28-2004 1:00 AM


Your right here somewhat. Creationists have an alternative ideas that intervene in the assumptions made from present evidence.
So we can then challenge you folk to demonstrate your evidence for these unobserved past events.
And all you say is WELL we assume the past is the present.
Fine. we say but don't say you brought the past under the careful examination of a scientific method.
You say WELL we did.
So here we are.
All this gymnastics to show creationists that these assumptions are well founded fails when we ask you to demonstrate it.
Rob
This message is a reply to:
 Message 336 by Unknown, posted 09-28-2004 1:00 AM Unknown has not yet responded

  
Robert Byers
Member (Idle past 2476 days)
Posts: 640
From: Toronto,canada
Joined: 02-06-2004


Message 344 of 354 (147557)
10-05-2004 3:20 PM
Reply to: Message 338 by Unknown
09-28-2004 1:00 AM


You said something important here Nosyned.
You said the person in the field can only claim hypothesis or speculation if the theory fails because of the method failing.
Well Percy has tried to tell me otherwise. That theory and hypothesis are only of degree of difference. That hypothesis is the same as theory.
This is an important point and shows the importance of definition of words and concepts.

When I refer to origins I only mean any subject that deals with explaining the past. I don't mean the origin of life itself.
Rob


This message is a reply to:
 Message 338 by Unknown, posted 09-28-2004 1:00 AM Unknown has not yet responded

  
Minnemooseus
Member
Posts: 3709
From: Duluth, Minnesota, U.S. (West end of Lake Superior)
Joined: 11-11-2001
Member Rating: 7.9


Message 345 of 354 (147558)
10-05-2004 3:29 PM
Reply to: Message 334 by Percy
09-28-2004 1:00 AM


Hypothesis / Theory / Fact
quote:
The difference between hypothesis and theory is only one of degree. They are basically the same thing, a general rule derived from observation and experimental data. Probably the biggest difference is the degree of support and acceptance.

I agree with you. But the content of your message is rather at odds with Gould's famous essay, which contains:

quote:
In the American vernacular, "theory" often means "imperfect fact"—part of a hierarchy of confidence running downhill from fact to theory to hypothesis to guess. Thus creationists can (and do) argue: evolution is "only" a theory, and intense debate now rages about many aspects of the theory. If evolution is less than a fact, and scientists can't even make up their minds about the theory, then what confidence can we have in it?

This essay etc. is also discussed here at TalkOrigins.org.

While I think Gould's points are valid, I am inclined to think that he is drawing sharp line distinctions where a grey area boundary is the reality.

Moose


This message is a reply to:
 Message 334 by Percy, posted 09-28-2004 1:00 AM Percy has not yet responded

  
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