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What do you believe about science?

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MadArchitect

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What do you believe about science?

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I don't intend to make an argument out of this, but I am interested in how most BookTalk contributors would reaspond. Please choose the predicate that best reflects your view.I believe science...Results (total votes = 8):is a predominantly true explanation of the natural world.&nbsp3 / 37.5%&nbsp is a provisional explanation; ie. not objectively true, but useful nonetheless.&nbsp2 / 25.0%&nbsp currently provides a provisional explanation, but will eventually provide an objectively true explanation.&nbsp0 / 0.0%&nbspis predominantly false.&nbsp0 / 0.0%&nbspis something other than the options accounted for above. (If so, please explain.)&nbsp3 / 37.5%&nbsp 
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Chris OConnor

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Re: What do you believe about science?

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Science cannot be "true" or "false" or "right" or wrong." Science isn't a static anything. Science is a journey or mission where truth is the destination. Sometimes along the way we wander down the wrong path only to backtrack, once we realize we've made a mistake, and get back onto the right road.Science is a methodology where we apply established systems, tools or techniques for acquiring knowledge, and then all knowledge acquired is labeled not as a certainty, but as a probability. Science is open-ended. Invalidate a theory and it will be discarded. But if nobody can prove an idea wrong or logically inconsistent that idea is assigned more and more weight, depending on all sorts of other factors.
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Mr. P

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Re: What do you believe about science?

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Well said Chris!Mr. P. I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana Boditharta (former booktalk troll)The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.What is all this shit about Angels? Have you heard this? 3 out of 4 people believe in Angels. Are you F****** STUPID? Has everybody lost their mind? - George CarlinI came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper
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Chris OConnor

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Re: What do you believe about science?

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This is a really great question, Mad. My wife is standing here with me and she loved the thread.
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Chris OConnor

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Re: What do you believe about science?

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So what is your opinion, Mad?
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Re: What do you believe about science?

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Science is a darned useful way to get things done. It doesn't tell us what we should do, but it sure as hell helps us do what we want. Just because it helps us do what we want, doesn't mean it always gets us to do what we need. Science is actually very little, perhaps nothing, until the Scientist gets involved. Once the Scientist gets involved, well, then things get a little messy: sometimes terribly messy, even horribly destructive and downright cataclysmic. Still, even with the foibles and vanity of the Scientist, occasionally great things do get done: things that matter in ways that really improve life...where need meets want and ought meets is.
MadArchitect

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Re: What do you believe about science?

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Chris: So what is your opinion, Mad?My vote was for #2: Science is a provisional answer; not objectively true, but useful nonetheless. My full belief might waver from that a little, but I didn't think it wavered enough to justify bothering with the 5th option.I'm interested in your answer, though, Chris. I promise not to turn it into an argument if you'd do me the favor of fielding a few questions. I'm not questioning your belief; I'm just a little surprised at your answer.Science cannot be "true" or "false" or "right" or wrong." Science isn't a static anything. Science is a journey or mission where truth is the destination.Does that differ significantly from the 3rd answer? It looks to me like you're saying that science provides provisional answers, and that science aims towards truth, but I'm not clear on whether you think that science will ever arrive at that destination.
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Re: What do you believe about science?

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The options for the poll seem unfit for the question. Actually, the question itself is slightly odd. Belief has nothing to do with science and science is neither true nor false. Chris had a really nice response earlier in the thread. Science is a method that allows fallible and error prone creatures to rigorously, methodically, quantitatively, and analytically test the world around us. It approaches testing from the perspective of always challenging previously believed theories and if the theories do not fail the test, then they have yet to be proven incorrect. Nothing could ever be proven 100% correct unless we could rule out any possible inconsistency. Science labels and measures gravity. Gravity is most certainly something that occurs in the natural world. Is gravity then true because science proved it? This type of reasoning through science just becomes a silly semantical game. Science is a method and set of tools to measure and test the world. We then apply the knowledge gained from science to various applications. Question of "believing" in science just seems without a point. The way we measure something (for example, periodic table) is certainly not an absolute but rather how we have labeled and identified natural phenomenon... if that is what you are asking.
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Chris OConnor

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Re: What do you believe about science?

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Mad, my problem with the third choice was in the second clause of the sentence.Quote:currently provides a provisional explanation, but will eventually provide an objectively true explanationThe conclusions we form through the application of science are ALWAYS provisional. True, we are striving to know things with absolute certainty, but we really can only assign a level of probability to these things we believe we know. This is why I respect science and scientists so much more than faith and theists. Science admits to ignorance, but declares a lust for knowledge. The faithul say knowledge is irrelevant and questioning dogma is disgraceful. What a sham. Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 5/16/07 12:48 am
MadArchitect

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Re: What do you believe about science?

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Chris OConnor: Mad, my problem with the third choice was in the second clause of the sentence.Refresh my memory: you chose the second choice? Or the fifth?The conclusions we form through the application of science are ALWAYS provisional. True, we are striving to know things with absolute certainty, but we really can only assign a level of probability to these things we believe we know.I hope you don't mind if I ask another question in regards to your answer. If the answers are always provisional, and we can never count them as absolutely true, nor know the full range of possible answers, then what's our foundation for assigning them a level of probability?The reason I ask is that, it seems to me that you need to have a fairly solid knowledge of the range of possible answers in order to determine the probability of any given answer. Let me try to illustrate.When we calculate probability numerically, we present it as a ratio of attempts to possibilities. So if you want to present the probability of turning up the number six on a single roll of a die, you'd present it as 1 in 6. One attempt (roll); six sides (possibilities).I'm not sure how you could do that with a totally provisional answer. Granted, my knowledge of mathematics is fairly basic. Maybe something about scientific method allows for a broad statement (if not a precise calculation) or probability? Or maybe you mean probability in another way? Or maybe the idea you're trying to convey would be better expressed with a word other than "probability"?I'm not trying to catch you in any sort of trap. I'm just wondering about your instroduction of the word probability and what it entails for the philosophy of science. Edited by: MadArchitect at: 5/17/07 3:44 pm
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