Does anyone else see that Stephen ben Yeshua's version of H-D is so esoteric that he in no way adheres to actual H-D? Stephen's two pet ideas are 1. that Jehovah exists 2. that demons exist and that this can be proven (which is also impossible under H-D) scientifically.
Given the below description of H-D, it is clear that everything he has proposed to date fails H-D as there is no way to falsify either claim. It also fails predictive analysis because it in no way narrows down the list of possibilities and thus one can no more predict the existence of demons or what their effects would be in one circumstance than any other. It could be a sentient ice cream cone. It is clear that Stephen does not adhere to any version of H-D that would be compatible with science.
The main question of this post, can we conclude that much like the ID movement, Stephen wishes to couch his beliefs in pseudo-scientific terms in order to project an impression of scientific credibility on the gullible or to validate his beliefs to himself? Or has this person so genuinely misunderstood the entire point of science that he is unable to grasp its most basic concepts and the clear benefits that methodological naturalism have brought to our understanding of the natural world? The two are not mutually exclusive.
CHAPTER 3: The Science of Physical Geography
(b). The Hypothetico-Deductive Method
Philosopher Karl Popper suggested that it is impossible to prove a scientific theory true by means of induction, because no amount of evidence assures us that contrary evidence will not be found. Instead, Karl Popper proposed that proper science is accomplished by deduction. Deduction involves the process of falsification. Falsification is a particular specialized aspect of hypothesis testing. It involves stating some output from theory in specific and then finding contrary cases using experiments or observations. The methodology proposed by Popper is commonly known as the hypothetico-deductive method.
Popper's version of scientific method first begins with the postulation of a hypothesis. A hypothesis is an educated guess or a theory that explains some phenomenon. The researcher then tries to prove or test this scientific theory false through prediction or experimentation (see Figure 3a-2).A prediction is a forecast or extrapolation from the current state of the system of interest. Predictions are most useful if they can go beyond simple forecast. An experiment is a controlled investigation designed to evaluate the outcomes of causal manipulations on some system of interest.
To get a better understanding of the hypothetico-deductive method, we can examine the following geographic phenomena. In the brackish tidal marshes of the Pacific Coast of British Columbia and Washington, we find that the plants in these communities spatially arrange themselves in zones that are defined by elevation. Near the shoreline plant communities are dominated primarily by a single species known as Scirpus americanus. At higher elevations on the tidal marsh Scirpus americanus disappears and a species called Carex lyngbyei becomes widespread. The following hypothesis has been postulated to explain this unique phenomenon:
The distribution of Scirpus americanus and Carex lyngbyei is controlled by their tolerances to the frequency of tidal flooding. Scirpus americanus is more tolerant of tidal flooding than Carex lyngbyei and as a result it occupies lower elevations on the tidal marsh. However, Scirpus americanus cannot survive in the zone occupied by Carex lyngbyei because not enough flooding occurs. Likewise, Carex lyngbyei is less tolerant of tidal flooding than Scirpus americanus and as a result it occupies higher elevations on the tidal marsh. Carex lyngbyei cannot survive in the zone occupied by Scirpus americanus because too much flooding occurs. According to Popper, to test this theory a scientist would now have to prove it false. As discussed above this can be done in two general ways: 1) predictive analysis; or 2) by way of experimental manipulation. Each of these methods has been applied to this problem and the results are described below.
If the theory is correct, we should find that in any tidal marsh plant community that contains Scirpus americanus and Carex lyngbyei that the spatial distribution of these two species should be similar in all cases. This is indeed true. However, there could be some other causal factor, besides flooding frequency, that may be responsible for these unique spatial patterns.
If the two species are transplanted into the zones of the other they should not be able to survive. An actual transplant experiment found that Scirpus americanus can actually grow in the zone occupied by Carex lyngbyei, while Carex lyngbyei could also grow at lower Scirpus sites. However, this growth became less vigorous as the elevation became lower and at a certain elevation it could not grow at all. These results falsify the postulated theory. So the theory must be modified based on the results and tested again.
The process of testing theories in science is endless. Part of this problem is related to the complexity of nature. Any one phenomenon in nature is influenced by numerous factors each having its particular cause and effect. For this reason, one positive test result is not conclusive proof that the phenomenon under study is explained. However, some tests are better than others and provide us with stronger confirmation. These tests usually allow for the isolation of the phenomena from the effects of causal factors. Manipulative experiments tend to be better than tests based on prediction in this respect.
Why does everyone act like Popper was a great philosopher of science? He wasn't. He failed to accurately describe scientific process, failed to provide a philosophical basis for the success of existing scientific method, and provided a fairly weak alternative method which is hardly ever employed in the real world. Worse, he failed to break out of the flawed philosophers mindset that gives pre-eminance to deductive methodology. Ok, he did some good work on the way, but I consider him hardly deserving of his reputation.
I don't think that is what anyone is trying to imply. Stephen claims that H-D is a superior alternative to methodological naturalism. However, he seems to define (or not define) H-D any way he sees to fit his arguement.
If he is claiming that just having an idea makes the idea more probable and that farts and anecdotes are better evidence than anything gathered by direct observation or experimentation AND that it is irrelevant whether or not you can falsify your hypothesis, I want him to explain in what way is it superior to methodological naturalism and what (if anything at all) it has to do with Popper and H-D.
He he Funny you should mention the Ig's...I was thinking about that exactly when writing this post...in case you missed it, Stephen claims that farting is evidence that demons exist...if that is not a great topic for an Ig Nobel, nothing is
quote:The God, Jehovah, is extraordinarily malign, so He has written, to those who reject His love. Like my wife. Now, there's a story!
But I like Abshalom's point, which I take to be, God gives us farts to show us demons leaving, because we cannot sense the demons, and don't know how offensive they are. Otherwise, we let them back in.
and Abshaloms great reply to Stephen's fecal fantasies
"God gives us farts to show us demons leaving," is Stephen Ben Yeshua's take on it. But I have only "seen" farts on two occasions:
(1) While standing in a very long line on an extremely cold night waiting for the ticket vendor window to open, I heard a long, low rumble of gaseous emission and looked toward the sound to see a vaporous cloud trailing away from a pair of tight jeans. The devil, you say?
(2) While sitting on a very uncomfortable bean bag chair in an extremely poorly decorated college-era domicile, I heard the click of a bic followed by the rattle of a sphincter muscle and looked toward the sounds just in time to see a blow torch flame shooting away from the ass-end of a pair of tight jeans. A Duke Blue Demon, you say?
So that's it for me as far as visual contact with demons I guess.
I'd like to see HD discussions centralized here rather than spread across several threads as they are now. I made this comment in Message 168 of The best scientific method thread:
You continue to confuse the definitions of these two terms (HD and MN). Methodological naturalism is merely the belief that natural causes are behind all we can observe with our senses, and that its inner workings are amenable to decipherment through methodological investigation. The hypothetico-deductive method is simply the familiar approach of Popperian science for conducting these methodological investigations. You've rejected MN and set aside all standards of objectivity in HD to arrive at a perspective and method guaranteed to yield nonsense.
A hypothesis derived from Fretwell  is put to the test; that matching behaviour is optimal if there is sufficient competition for the resources. This model therefore introduces the evolution of multiple agents for choice behaviour.
So it seems that at one time you accepted the theory of evolution. Perhaps you could describe and contrast for us the concepts of ideal-free distribution and ideal-despotic distribution developed by yourself and Henry Lucas, and compare them to the concept of Inclusive Fitness Distribution introduced by Morris, Lundberg and Ripa. It would also be relevant if you touched on how subjective Bayesianism contributed to your research.
Most importantly, please describe how you came to abandon your ideas and reject evolution.
If you'll read post 8 carefully, you'll see that I say that I got the idea that farts are associated with demons leaving from an Abshalom post. But, demons being both malignant and impossible to detect with our senses, like natural gas, the idea that God would put a foul odor with them so we would know when they are leaving, appealed to me. I mean, it's what we do with natural gas! I still think it's an intriquing idea, but, in the H-D process, it has yet to make any testable predictions, and so remains fairly implausible. But if it is ever found out to be true, I'd want to make sure that Abshalom gets full credit.
Don't believe M. when he calls me a creationist, by the way. The only thing worse than an evolutionist, I always say, is a creationist. I'm a truthist. I have followed the maturation of the ideas begun by Popper called Hypothetico-deductive scientific method, through Lakatose and Polanyi's contributions, up to Urbach's work. I don't believe, as M. accuses me, that science can prove anything. Truthism is the belief that truth exists, and that objective methodology can be discovered which brings one closer and closer to it. As things now stand, the best on-going definition of truth in my experience is from Einstein. Ideas whose predictions are borne out by experience.
Creationists couldn't come up with an idea as neat as God associating demons with farts, so we would have a better idea of what's going on. (And, of course, expressing His opinion of the demons!)
I will try to answer some of your questions about the scientific work for which I am best known,
First, when I was doing this work, I was indeed an evolutionist, ending my book (1972) with a ringing, to me, affirmation that man was just another animal, evolved and to be understood by the same standards we apply to other animals. But, seeds of doubt had been placed in my mind at Princeton, where the population ecologists were, at least, putting evolution on a back burner. As I have posted elsewhere, I saw Henry Horn's door with the sign, "The Origin of Specious by the Selection of Natural Means" and thought that he was having doubts. They also were very much into Tolkein, some sort of theist, I think.
There were two problems: first, evolution was an awkward tool for studying the distribution and abundance of species, which seemed worth knowing about. second, evolution was not falsifiable. Nobody could think of a study that, if it got certain results, said that evolution was untrue. We hadn't gotten into strong inference yet, although I had read Tricker's summary of the Bayesian method for evaluating "scientific speculation." But, Popper was popular. I think, eventually, Popper excused evolution from falsifiability. But, it seemed so damned tautological! Oh, also Velikovsky was at Princeton then, affirming a lot of Biblical stuff, and being right in so many predictions.
Anyway, doing my "Physics Envy" that Horn accused me of having, I took the derivation of the ideal gas law from a course in P-Chem, and applied it to solving the territorial behavior problem that had been around since the 20's, since Howard's small book was published. I thought of the territorial birds as ideally behaving gas particles, distributing themselves according to evolutionary pressures, and came up with an Ideal Free Distribution. I had to make, (as I was taught in P-Chem) untrue assumptions (birds make perfect choices, and have no cost to movement between habitats---compare with "gas molecules have no mass or volume".), but the result was an interesting null-hypothesis or baseline to compare what we actually saw with. I introduced some different evolutionary pressures (an Allee effect) and aggressive territorial behavior, to get other predictions. I then studied two different birds, the Field Sparrows, with territorial behavior that appeared to only signal density, and Dickcissels, with aggresive territorial behavior. They both did what they were supposed to do. The dickcissel, it turns out, also did some of the things that Allee type curves generated. I spend the next ten years showing that, indeed, this was also a part of their ecology.
The territorial behavior study got started when I read a book by David Lack, who argued that birds don't defend territories as Howard had claimed, and Ardry was implying. It made me really angry, and I set out to prove Lack wrong. I worked really hard to show that even Field Sparrows were defending their territories, but the data just wouldn't confirm the predictions from that idea. My bayesian discipline tempered my subjective goals, and the appeal that territorial defense had to me, and made me change my mind. But I had more fun with the Dickcissel, where the males do defend their territories. In the end, I had to say that Lack was right in some cases, but so was Howard!
Meanwhile, Jesus Freaks in my 1970 classes at K-State were hounding me and others regarding evolution and creation. Remember student radicals were burning buildings then, so we listened. The questions raised at Princeton were re-raised. My H-D studies were working great, so I told the JF's that I would put their ideas to a true science test. They were throwing Kuhn at me, at well, claiming that I and the rest of the scientific community were just playing out a political con. I wanted to be, and to prove to them that I was, a truth seeking scientist, not one of those that Kuhn discusses, and that MacArthur and Horn had warned me were out there.
Meanwhile, typical sixties social changes were making my family life and marriage miserable, inciting me to explore all sorts of alternatives.
So, I ended up doing prayer experiments, with both plants and personal issues. These worked amazingly well. When it seemed likely that this Jehovah person was really out there, I made an effort to get an interview, and ask Him about evolution. This succeeded, and He said that evolution had many true points to make about the way He created and maintained biological diversity, but was basically wrong. Most selection was artificial, not natural, and most genetic changes were engineered, not random mutations. He said that there was a lot that I couldn't understand yet, but that if I stuck around, He'd enjoy helping me learn.
I'll look into inclusive fitness distribtion, and respond later.
I briefly checked on Morris' paper, on Inclusive Fitness. We used to try to assess Hamilton's IF ideas by studying alarm notes in the birds we netted. We noted that birds that traveled in family groups tended to give alarm notes, more than birds that appeared to be in flocks of strangers. As if they were warning their kin. Don't know where that theory is now. Have to ask Rohwer at the Burke Museum at Seattle. But, IF is a plausible idea, and will give false positives to the ideal despotic tests. That is, certain species will appear to be defending their territories, but will only be manifesting sacrificial moves that enhance the genome. The two can be separated by introducing defense related variables, such as territory size, or cover, which makes territorial defense less practical. As the density-success correlation is dependent on these variables, that confirms that it is based on territorial aggression.
Thanks for the tip. It's an interesting study that I missed.