The Myths of Science

What I'm suggesting is that the cock-suredness of the scientist is exceedingly myopic. It's still a dark, mysterious universe out there, don't kid yourself.

i think that most legitimate scientists would agree that what we don't know far exceeds what we do know.

what we do know is more than any person could ever hope to learn in their lifetime, and unless you're going to spend your life conducting experiments to prove every piece of scientific knowledge to yourself there is a certain degree of faith in accepting that these principles have been thoroughly researched by guys who are pretty smart.

anyone who doesn't agree with a certain scientific principle is free to go ahead and try to prove it wrong.

I'm not sure that it's necessary to adopt any sort of faith or mythology to carry out experimental science. Hell, in cutting edge synthetic chemistry, most reactions will fail the first time you try them... it's finding out WHY they failed which allows you to figure out how to make them work.

Also remember that mathmatics is only a man-made emperical system by which we're able to quantify (or estimate) what surrounds us. It's a tool - simple as that.

Theoretical science is exactly that - an attempt to rationalize what's at the limits of our current understanding. While many theories eventually prove to be incorrect, it shouldn't limit the consideration of new or different theories... in the end, that's how we grow to understand our world.

I do agree that there's still a lot to learn. That should not, however, stop us from trying. And trying, in my opinion does not require faith.

The more educated you become, usually the more "why" questions about the world and universe you are able to answer.

For many people, though, "God" is good enough. No reason to get complicated.

Alabama Man,

I dropped out of the theoretical physics scene because of what I perceived to be the completely [fantalistic] way reality was being described. The end of the road in what's considered the "Standard Model" is gauge theory. In that mythology, the players are not Isis and Horus and Nephthys. There are particles that transmit forces that have to obey symmetry laws. They're Gluons for the strong force, photons for the electromagnetic force and ... neutrinos for the weak force? I forget, but anyways, even though the standard model (QCD, Gauge Theory, etc...) are successful in experimental verification, my intuition felt deadened...and I can't go further than that. I no longer felt that i was dealing with reality.

So, as mentioned above, Isis and Horus and Osirus and Nephthys were replaced with these other hypothetical entities with their attributes - gluons, photons, neutrinos, gauge bosons, pi mesons, and the rest of 'em. String Theory was the straw that broke this camel's back. It will go down as a classic unfalsifiable mirage in physics that paralyzed a whole branch of science - a mythology that crossed the line between science and religious faith.

Thirdleg raises a good point. The average person does have to take what scientists say on faith. That faith, however, is a more reasonable faith than assuming claims of the supernatural are true from the 'church authorities'.

Theoretical Physics - right now, this very moment - is mired down in the morass of string theory because of an exclusivity born of a theocratic faith in authority figures. People talk about this stuff as if it were reality, just because a group of scientists say it is.

In fairness, the burning edge of science usually has hotly varying models of explanation. That competition of ideas is healthy. What inevitably happens, however, is people run with these cutting edge ideas, many of which will line the garbage bin of history in a few decades, and declare them to be reality. New agers are constantly taking these models of QM and making fanciful claims about reality because of them.

jbc,

"I'm not sure that it's necessary to adopt any sort of faith or mythology to carry out experimental science."

Of course it is! You believe in things we call "atoms" and 'electrons', don't you?

"Hell, in cutting edge synthetic chemistry, most reactions will fail the first time you try them... it's finding out WHY they failed which allows you to figure out how to make them work."

Creating a different model to explain the situation...I'm calling the "model" a "mythology", just an impersonal one.

"Also remember that mathmatics is only a man-made emperical system by which we're able to quantify (or estimate) what surrounds us. It's a tool - simple as that."

And that certain principles - such as continuity - are respected by the universe. That creates a framework to justify using mathematics in it.

"Theoretical science is exactly that - an attempt to rationalize what's at the limits of our current understanding. While many theories eventually prove to be incorrect, it shouldn't limit the consideration of new or different theories... in the end, that's how we grow to understand our world."

Well said, and I agree with that.

"I do agree that there's still a lot to learn. That should not, however, stop us from trying. And trying, in my opinion does not require faith."

It does, but it's not religious faith. It's more like a confidence based on experience. Language fails us in trying to make the distinction clear.

Rastus:

We might be close to saying the same thing, with the differences being language-based semantics and definitions.

To me, an experience-based expectation (like the good example of your car starting tomorrow stated above) is not 'faith'. That's the same mindset with which a significant amount of controlled experimental science is conducted.

A wholesale extension of existing theories or expectations to incorporate a field which we do not yet have the capacity to understand (or experiment with) is something different. If you want to call that 'faith', then that's fine with me.

The delineation may be personal and arbitrary. If you want to consider the acceptance of things, which in my opinion can be 'proven' to exist like atoms, as faith, then perhaps we differ on that count.

JBC

"neutrinos for the weak force"

W & Z bosons.

"my intuition felt deadened"

Intuition is a result of habit. Practice.

jbc,

"A wholesale extension of existing theories or expectations to incorporate a field which we do not yet have the capacity to understand (or experiment with) is something different. If you want to call that 'faith', then that's fine with me."

Are you referring to string theory here?

"The delineation may be personal and arbitrary. If you want to consider the acceptance of things, which in my opinion can be 'proven' to exist like atoms, as faith, then perhaps we differ on that count."

"Atoms" is a word, and they exist only in our minds. What is observed is a very significant overlap between what this model predicts under certain conditions and what is experimentally verified. The difference sounds trivial, but it is not.

For instance, what do you mean by "atom"? The term used to mean an indivisible unit, which it most certainly is not. Are you meaning a collection of neutrons, protons and electrons? Well, what about the quarks that compose the nuclear entities? Are you considering the electrons as filling orbitals?

Do you see what I mean? "Atom" is just a word that evokes a comic-strip notion. It is NOT reality - what we bump into in the night.

kneeuppercut,

"So you don't believe that things such as photons or gluons or neutrinos exist?"

I think my response above should answer your question.

NWS,

"W & Z bosons."

Thanks. I was too lazy to look it up.

"Intuition is a result of habit. Practice."

That is true as well just as "common sense" is the result of experience, not intrinsic a-priori knowledge.

Scientific theories can be tested and refuted. Science evolves.

Religion is dogma.

Why=God. It is good for children or people with simple minds.

With dogmatic belief in religion, human knowledge and minds would evolve very little. Example: Taliban and Afghanistan.

"Scientific theories can be tested and refuted."

Really?

You don't know much about String Theory, do you?

My son, I will refer you to the portal of god:

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

Read and learn.

String Theory is a Theory in name only.

It is funny to see Rastus make the sort of argument that I having been making against his threads for yrs.

Buddhism must be affecting your brain. ;)

Rastus:

I see where you're trying to go with the definition of 'atom', and I can see your point to a certain extent.

The thing is, our current inability to define the behaviour (or existence) of subatomic particles does not invalidate the understanding of the chemical behaviour of atoms and molecules.

Regardless of subject (or concept), there will always be something more to learn. You could push the analogous argument on any subject, and will invariably reach a point where our understanding is limited.

Still, in the lab, I have an amine reacting with an organic acid under conditions which I expect an amide to form. These functional groups (comprised of atoms) behave in certain predictable ways, and, for this experiment, that's as far as the understanding needs to go.

I'm not trying to be contrarian. At the same time, I don't buy the notion that our inability to explain everything means that we can explain nothing.

"It is funny to see Rastus make the sort of argument that I having been making against his threads for yrs."

You will never defeat me in any thread, Hekster, no matter how far back in time, no matter how far into the vistas of illimitable futures your mind can see, no matter how hard you try. In every one, EVERY ONE...I will own you. As far as you saying this "back then", and my disputing the point, I have but three letters: el oh and el

"String Theory is a Theory in name only."

Surprisingly, you are correct here. There is no coherent string theory. It's a class of hypotheses able to be fine tuned to fit your universe of choice.

Rastus:

"The thing is, our current inability to define the behaviour (or existence) of subatomic particles does not invalidate the understanding of the chemical behaviour of atoms and molecules."

I don't wish to imply that I'm invalidating science. Let me put it succinctly: Science has no opinion on "the truth", as the term is colloquially understood. Science is, above all, pragmatic.

e.g. Suppose, for the sake of argument, ID is actually true! Science would still have no use for it because there's nothing to do with the hypothesis.

Science is the "let's pretend the universe is like this and see where that gets us" crowd, and rightfully so. If I find a more useful heuristic, I'll let you know!

"Regardless of subject (or concept), there will always be something more to learn. You could push the analogous argument on any subject, and will invariably reach a point where our understanding is limited."

That's not what the TOE enthusiasts will tell you! But I agree with your statement. "As the circle of light increases, so does the circumference of darkness around it" as the good professor Einstein put it.

"Still, in the lab, I have an amine reacting with an organic acid under conditions which I expect an amide to form. These functional groups (comprised of atoms) behave in certain predictable ways, and, for this experiment, that's as far as the understanding needs to go."

Absolutely, just as in physics we didn't need more than Newton to put a man on the moon. The model used was sufficient.

"I'm not trying to be contrarian. At the same time, I don't buy the notion that our inability to explain everything means that we can explain nothing. "

But what is really explained? Perhaps the strongest statement could be "under these conditions, you will find that x behaves as if y were true."

A little understanding of the point would suit you...Hidan-san.