matt wrote:Thanks for the clarification on the scientific method. I was just spouting out something I heard a scientist say on Point of Inquiry. I probably should have done more research before accepting that claim as legit. (Although it is interesting that the scientific method I was taught began with "observation." But I agree, like you said, minor differences don't invalidate the general approach.)
You are correct, matt. "Observation" should come first. I tend to think it's implied and forget to include it sometimes, but without it, it makes it seem like one is hypothesizing about something they've never observed, which doesn't make much sense.
There is a difference between objective and absolute knowledge, but I don't think we can have either. We see the world through our fallible senses. We process information through imperfect minds. We all have emotional biases. We categorize sensory data according our cultural context. And all of this is organized in patterns called "language." There is subjectivity in the process that cannot be overcome by sheer force of will.
We just disagree on this, matt. I see no problem with objetive knowledge and I really don't understand why anyone would. The Scientific process of building theories is desinged precisely for this.
Regarding our "fallible senses", I have to point out that you are moving the target. First you asserted that there are too many things in the universe that humans cannot observe with our senses, so we can't know them objectively. I pointed out that we use technology to build sensing devices to measure these types of things for us. These devices are designed upon known, repeatable laws of physics and are tested and calibrated to prove that they are reliable. YOU can't tell the difference between water at 99.15 Deg F and water at 99.27 Deg F, but an RTD sure can. And this makes measurements even more reliable and objective because human fallabilities, emotional bias, cultural context and imperfect minds are taken out of the picture. For that matter, language has little to do with data as well. There is no subjectivity in data that has been measured with reliable, quality equipment and force of will has nothing to do with this. On this you are simply wrong. To understand this, you would have to become better aquainted with science. Have you ever watched an episode of "Myth Busters"? This is a TV show where a couple of guys use science to test the validity of various popular myths. Now, this show is about entertainment and is limited by its budget, so it doesn't always cover all the angles of a myth, but they usually do a very good job of building objectivity into their conclusions. In fact, they often fail at thier first attempt to evaluate a myth for this very reason, they can't get the objectivity out, so they continue to look for ways to do this. And here's the best part. If anyone on the planet repeated their tests, using the same equipment and conditions, they should come up with the same results. That's objectivity!
If the results are not the same, then it's likely there was some problem with the way the tests were conducted, some malfunction or somethig that was missed. This is how science ensures objectivity. The Myth Busters tests aren't likley repeated elswhere, but in real science, they most certainly are, and those competitive scientists are relentless. They WANT
to find something wrong with the tests.
With regard to "truth," I think we agree more than we disagree. I do think you have to be "more than human" to arrive at objective truth. But I still think you can "know" things, albeit imperfectly. I singled out a statement that you made to suggest you agree.
I would regard this more as philosophy, and as such, I don't claim to now more than the next guy. But I do believe that the only way to "know" anything is through observation. Anything else is just speculation.
Technological aid does not negate the fact that, according to the scientific method, before data enters into your brain for processing, it has to pass through your eyes, ears, mouth, nerves, or nose.
As I said with the RTD example, your conclusion is incorrect. I can do a technical analysis of lots of things without ever "observing" a single data point. I can measure something, import the data into a spreadsheet, process it through various models, algorhythms or computations and produce stistical results of various conditions. My eyes, ears, taste, smell and touch have not impacted this data to a single degree. In fact, the only use of these senses were to manipulate the computer. I could and in fact have written programs to do all of the above for me and have it waiting for me when I come to work in the morning. In fact, at the last place I worked, we had a whole battery of such tests programmed to test the health and robustness of proces control systems all over the plant and to generate a PDF report on each control loop every week so I could view them and determine which ones needed work and which ones were OK. Again, objecitve and unaffected by human fallabilities.
The only place where human decisionmaking came into play was deciding which problems to tackle first, where to spend money
. So, if given reasonable criteria, a computer program could even do that for me, but that would put me out of a job so I hope it isnt invented any time soon.
I appreciate the value of "predicability." I enjoy the benefits of scientific discovery every day. I just disagree with the philosophy of science about how "predictable" the world is and why it is so "predictable."
And this is just a philosophical argument. It has no real basis in reality. Reality stands in stark contrast. This is one of those "put up or shut up" kind of topics. If you really believe this, then you should consider demonstrating it because you aren't going to get many converts with nothing but wild speculation as support.
Just because something "always seems to work that way" doesn't mean it always has to work that way. Remember, you are arguing against miracles, which are by definition unusual and infrequent.
Just because the Empire State building has never turned into green cheese, doesn't mean it won't do so tomorrow.
Again, this is just a form of special pleading. Everyone's got their special reason why a miracle can't be verified and documented. It isn't the right day, god doesn't work that way, you have to be in the right mindset, you can't question god...And who delcared miracles should be "infrequent"? Why? How was this determined? What is the limiting factor? This is the arbitrary and special pleading nature of miracles, isn't it? Since they cannot be pinned down, it is up to everyone to define them in any way they choose. If they cannot be defined, then how will anyone know when you've seen one? Oh, I was almost
stung by a bee and I'm allergic, was that miracle? No, wait, a guy ran off the interstate this morning an hour before I drove to work. If I had gone to work early, I could have been hit. Was that a miracle? My father had a motorcycle wreck last month, but he survived. Was that a miracle? (he was in the parking lot going almost nothing when it happened).