Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Logical Fallacies, Formal and Informal
The Autonomist ^ | March, 2003 | Reginald Firehammer

Posted on 04/06/2003 10:12:13 AM PDT by Hank Kerchief

Lately we have seen the notion of falsifiability represented as a fallacy. This is itself, a fallacy.

The concept of falsifiability is a greatly misunderstood but legitimate part of the scientific method (a rigorous application of reason to evidence). Consider this statement made as an objection to falsifiability, "Falsifiability can be a valuable intellectual tool: it can help you to disprove ideas which are incorrect. But it does not enable you to prove ideas which are correct." In fact, that is exactly what "falsifiability" does do, and without it, no scientific hypothesis can be proven.

In science, a proposed hypothesis is not considered valid if there is no experiment that can be performed that would, if the hypothesis is incorrect, fail. If such an experiment can be performed, and it "fails to fail," it is proof (or at least very good evidence) the hypothesis is correct.

No doubt the prejudice against this very useful objective method lies in the name, "falsifiability." It does not mean the scientist must attempt to prove a hypothesis false, but the very opposite. "Falsifiability," is the method by which a hypothesis may be proven true. It also does not mean that a hypothesis must be assumed correct until it is falsified.

The idea of falsifiability protects the field of science from being obliged to entertain as, "possible," any wild hypothesis on no other basis than it cannot be disproved. If a hypothesis is correct, there will always be a test or experiment that it would fail, if it is incorrect, which when performed proves the hypothesis correct by not failing (or incorrect by failing).

If no test can be devised for testing a hypothesis, it means the hypothesis has no consequence, that nothing happens or doesn't happen because of it and nothing depends on it being right. If this were not true, whatever depended on the hypothesis could be tested. There is absolutely no reason to entertain a notion that has neither purpose or consequence.

"But why not perform experiments to verify rather than falsify?" In fact, all experiments performed to test a hypothesis are attempts to verify it. If such a test could "pass" even if the hypothesis were incorrect, passing the test would prove nothing. Passing a test is only, "proof," if passing is only possible when the hypothesis is true, which means the test must fail (the hypothesis will be falsified) when the hypothesis is untrue. A test which cannot falsify a hypothesis, if it is incorrect, cannot prove it, if it is correct.

To say a hypothesis is not falsifiable means that it cannot be proved (or disproved), and, therefore, is unacceptable as a scientific theory.

It is very unfortunate that this concept is misunderstood by many who are otherwise quite rational and objective. The principle not only applies to science, but almost all complex or abstract concepts. The attempt to verify any conjecture by means of a method that cannot discriminate between those conjectures which are true and those which are false can never discover the truth. Only a method which distinctly demonstrates a conjecture is false, if it is, can verify those conjectures that are true.

The concept of falsifiability sweeps away mountains of irrational rubbish masquerading as science, philosophy, ideology, and religion. One question that must be asked about any doubtful proposition or conjecture is, "how can this be disproved if it is false?" If there is no way to test if the proposition is false, there are no rational grounds whatsoever for assuming the proposition to be true.

(Excerpt) Read more at hpamerica.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: crevolist; fallacies; falsifiability; logic; objectivism; philosophy; reason; truth
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-150151-200 ... 851-892 next last
I have posted one of the many fallacies discussed in this article, all of which I think are important.

The reason I posted this one is because I have seen this concept criticized on FR. It seems very important to me.

I think this principle ought to be applied to many concepts we hold. I would be interested in anyone's thought about applying the falsifiatility concept to things like social policy, or religion.

1 posted on 04/06/2003 10:12:13 AM PDT by Hank Kerchief
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Fzob; P.O.E.; PeterPrinciple; MWS; reflecting; DannyTN; FourtySeven; x; dyed_in_the_wool; Zon; ...
PHILOSOPHY PING

(If you want on or off this list please freepmail me.)

(Note, the article itself is long, but has lots of ideas that could be discussed. Please mention any other fallacies you think are interesting. Do you know any that are not indluded in the article?)

Hank

2 posted on 04/06/2003 10:16:02 AM PDT by Hank Kerchief
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Diddley
Ping to self
3 posted on 04/06/2003 10:19:27 AM PDT by Diddley (Dead, wounded, a coward, or escaped, Saddam is “As good as dead!”)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief
I would be interested in anyone's thought about applying the falsifiatility concept to things like social policy, or religion.

Your interest indicates that you have considered this application. So, I'll bite. How would you apply this concept to, say, religion? (and, of course, I had to pick a non controversial subject like religion to keep the discussion on an objective and dispassionate level).

4 posted on 04/06/2003 10:22:31 AM PDT by templar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: VadeRetro; jennyp; Junior; longshadow; *crevo_list; RadioAstronomer; Scully; Piltdown_Woman; ...
Worth a ping. But beware the link in the first paragraph, which is incorrect about evolution's status as science.

[This ping list is for the evolution -- not creationism -- side of evolution threads, and sometimes for other science topics. To be added (or dropped), let me know via freepmail.]

5 posted on 04/06/2003 10:26:24 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: PatrickHenry; betty boop
Nature of science bump.
6 posted on 04/06/2003 10:27:47 AM PDT by balrog666 (When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief
I have calculated quite precisely the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin- I have it right here on one of these Post-It notes...

God, how I hated Philosophy classes in college- and I have have seen nothing to change my mind since. It's all a big late-night dorm bull session.

7 posted on 04/06/2003 10:35:37 AM PDT by RANGERAIRBORNE
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief
If some specific religion were falsifiable, it would mean that some sort of evidence could, in principle, be found that contradicted the religious version of events, which would then refute or disprove the religion. However, it is always possible to assert that "God's Will" caused the evidence to appear in the way in which it was found, and that if anything it was merely a test of one's faith even in the presence of contradictory evidence.

I believe most religions are fundamentally unfalsifiable - that there is no evidence that anyone would accept that their religion is false.

8 posted on 04/06/2003 10:40:46 AM PDT by coloradan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief
To say a hypothesis is not falsifiable means that it cannot be proved (or disproved), and, therefore, is unacceptable as a scientific theory.

Two points:

1) To speak of "the scientific method" (as the article does) is misleading and incorrect. There is not only one scientific method.

2) The above sentence begs the question, and is false. There are scientific truths that cannot necessarily be falsified.

Now, it is one thing to say such-and-such is not falsifiable (but may be proven true), and another thing to say there is no evidence to believe such-and such.

9 posted on 04/06/2003 10:41:01 AM PDT by tame
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief; All
To say a hypothesis is not falsifiable means that it cannot be proved (or disproved), and, therefore, is unacceptable as a scientific theory.

Two points:

1) To speak of "the scientific method" (as the article does) is misleading and incorrect. There is not only one scientific method.

2) The above sentence begs the question, and is false. There are scientific truths that cannot necessarily be falsified.

Now, it is one thing to say such-and-such is not falsifiable (but may be proven true), and another thing to say there is no evidence to believe such-and such.

10 posted on 04/06/2003 10:41:18 AM PDT by tame
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: RANGERAIRBORNE
God how I hate justice. Let might make right. If there comes a time when not enough people think this country is worth defending, then we will go down and be occupied by some more energetic people. Whatever will be will be.


11 posted on 04/06/2003 10:50:26 AM PDT by cornelis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: templar
...I had to pick a non controversial subject like religion to keep the discussion on an objective and dispassionate level...

Here are two possibilities:

Consider those things which can only be known by actually being seen, such as the effects of color on one's mood or feelings or the atmosphere set in a scene by the interplay of light and shadow. A blind person can know nothing of these except by the testimony of those who can see. Is the testimony of the seeing valid evidence to be accepted by the blind? Can that testimony, if it is false, be falsified by the blind?

If I were a very cleverly designed machine, I might claim I could see, and because of the very clever sensors in my system, be able to behave just as if I could see. But seeing, itself (the actual colors and shapes of my visual field) is subjective. You, nor anyone else can "see my seeing," so when I say I can see, you take my word for it, and assume it means the same as you mean when you say you can see. But, I cannot prove I actually see, because, there is no test that can be made which I would fail only if I could not see, but would surely pass if I can see. (This assumes all external behaviors associated with seeing exist, because it is only the subjective experience we are attempting to test for.)

Religion, I think, involves things which can be known rationallly enough (like the totally reasonable and rational belief of the blind in things they can only know by the testimony and explanation of the seeing), but that cannot always be objectively demonstrated (like all subjective experience). I do not believe there must be a conflict in this kind of knowledge and any other kind of rational knowledge.

On the other hand, I believe 99% of those things the religious believe are mostly irrational and easily disproved. Holding those kinds of religious views is rightly called superstition.

Hank

12 posted on 04/06/2003 10:56:32 AM PDT by Hank Kerchief
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: cornelis
Do you start drinking early in the day? You should probably see someone about your mental state.
13 posted on 04/06/2003 11:02:23 AM PDT by RANGERAIRBORNE
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: tame
There are scientific truths that cannot necessarily be falsified.

You eaither misunderstand what falsifiable means, or you intended something else for the above. If a truth were falsified, it would not be true. I assume you meant, there are scientific truths that cannot necessarily be tested, which necessarily means, tested in a way that means something. If a test can pass, whether what is being tested is true or not, the test proves nothing. The test only proves something, if it can only be passed if the hyposthesis is true, and must fail (be falsified) if it is not true.

If there are sceintific truths which are "untestable," could you please name one.

Hank

14 posted on 04/06/2003 11:03:43 AM PDT by Hank Kerchief
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief
Willard Van Ormand Quine Ping!
Bertand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead Ping!
Frege Ping!

put me on the list, please.

15 posted on 04/06/2003 11:04:11 AM PDT by CatoRenasci (Ceterum Censeo Mesopotamiam Esse Delendam)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: tame
To speak of "the scientific method" (as the article does)

The article doesn't, a reference does.

Are you implying that the methods of science are other than objective?

The above sentence begs the question, and is false. There are scientific truths that cannot necessarily be falsified.

By the above sentence we presume you mean, "To say a hypothesis is not falsifiable means that it cannot be proved (or disproved), and, therefore, is unacceptable as a scientific theory."

But, it is only one sentence in the section, and it can only "beg the question," if you take it out of the context that answered the question. Which you have done.

Do you disagree that, "If a test could "pass" even if the hypothesis were incorrect, passing the test would prove nothing. Passing a test is only, "proof," if passing is only possible when the hypothesis is true, which means the test must fail (the hypothesis will be falsified) when the hypothesis is untrue." If you agree with that, how could it be possible for any hypothesis to be proven (tested true) if there is not single test possible test it must fail, if it is untrue?

I do not think you understand the principle.

Hank

16 posted on 04/06/2003 11:12:27 AM PDT by Hank Kerchief
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: cornelis
God how I hate justice. Let might make right.

It does. It is justice.

Hank

17 posted on 04/06/2003 11:14:14 AM PDT by Hank Kerchief
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief
If there are sceintific truths which are "untestable," could you please name one.

In many fields of study, the items being studied do not behave entirely predictably. Suppose one is testing a drug and feeds it to six animals in a test group but not to six animals in a control group. Even if all six animals in the control group outlast all six animals in the test group that does not prove the drug was harmful. It suggests that it's likely, since, absent outside influences, such an event should happen only once every 924 such trials, but it would nonetheless suggest that there is probably a causal relationship.

18 posted on 04/06/2003 11:30:24 AM PDT by supercat (TAG--you're it!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief
Excellent post. But it would be nice to have an abridged list of logical fallacies (dare I say "dumbed-down"). This list is kind of a tough read.
19 posted on 04/06/2003 11:39:10 AM PDT by Prolixus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief
LOL! There's hope for you too, when you squeak.
20 posted on 04/06/2003 11:45:41 AM PDT by cornelis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: cornelis
Let might make right? For what purpose do we even have a Constitution in that case? You sound as bad as a Leftist revolutionary. "Justice is meaningless, only the will of the proletariat matters."
21 posted on 04/06/2003 11:50:15 AM PDT by Buckeye Bomber
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief
Who is the highest authority? The individual.

Who does the individual blame -- hold accountable -- for their own screw ups? The individual holds himself or herself responsible/accountable because only they as the highest authority can chose to be rational and hold themselves accountable. Even the seeming opposite wherein a person is irrational and claims some higher authority -- perhaps a God -- is responsible/accountable for their screw ups is acting on their own highest authority to make that choice. The individual is the highest authority.

The individual is accountable for his or her own actions and that correctly identifies the individual as the highest authority in their own life. What's the alternative? ...The complete contradiction that there exists a higher authority that's responsible/accountable for an individual's actions. Still, to make that contradictory claim it can only be asserted by the highest authority--the individual.

If the individual is not the highest authority the individual would not be able to choose either: 1, rationally account for their own screw up; or 2, irrationally hold another person or thing accountable for their screw up.

22 posted on 04/06/2003 11:51:13 AM PDT by Zon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: supercat
...it would nonetheless suggest that there is probably a causal relationship.

There is nothing wrong with making decisions based on less than perfect knowledge, when that is the best you can get. The point of "proof" and "testability" is to get knowledge that is better. "Suggestions," and, "probability," are not proof. They may be evidence that eventually leads to proof, but in the meantime, they are just suggestions and probabilities, at best, hypotheses, not scientific truth or theories.

Hank

23 posted on 04/06/2003 11:53:00 AM PDT by Hank Kerchief
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief
On my day of rest you want me to THINK already yet!

Good article.

Not a priority to apply it to religion at the moment.

But in my PhD research, I collected data on more than 1,000 variable. Only analyzed 4 of them for the PhD. On most the null hypotheses were shown to be false.

The different groups were atheists/agnostics and various categories of Christians.
24 posted on 04/06/2003 11:54:23 AM PDT by Quix (QUALITY RESRCH STDY BTWN BK WAR N PEACE VS BIBLE RE BIBLE CODES AT MAR BIBLECODESDIGEST.COM)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Buckeye Bomber
You sound as bad as a Leftist revolutionary

I'm trying my hardest!

25 posted on 04/06/2003 11:54:33 AM PDT by cornelis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief
If there is no way to test if the proposition is false, there are no rational grounds whatsoever for assuming the proposition to be true.

This assertion implies that faith-based religion is irrational. Perhaps better said that faith-based religion can not be proved or disproved by the scientific methods (of course not, then the religion could have a foundation other than faith).

26 posted on 04/06/2003 11:55:33 AM PDT by Cboldt
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief
On the other hand, I believe 99% of those things the religious believe are mostly irrational and easily disproved. Holding those kinds of religious views is rightly called superstition.

By stating that you 'beleieve' you are implying that you do not 'know'. In short, you are using an opinion in an argument that began with logic. By using an opinion without the total logical analysis of the facts that you considered in forming this opinion, you have removed the argument from science and logic and into the realm of fictional speculation. While speculation is a valid human persuit (same as science or logic or love) it cannot be intermixed with logic to form scientifically or logically valid statements (this is fallacy).

Perhaps Wittgenstein summed it up most concisely by saying " What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent.".

In short, for the purpose of logical argument language must be exact, with the words having exact meanings in the field in which they are used, and not bve subject to interpretation or misundrstanding by the hearer. If the words used do not have exact meanings in the context of their use, ther can be no assumption of communicating a precise idea between the parties involved. i.e. to verify an experiment in science the experiment must be described preciesly so that there can be no possibility of conducting the experiment differently by a different researcher (meaning that a different, if similar, experiment had actually been conducted).

For instance, by saying " I believe 99% of those things the religious believe" do you really mean the majority of the religious tennets you are familiar with or do you mean an actual numerical 99% of the religious beliefs of Zoroastrians, or Christians, or Muslims, etc., or do you mean a numerical 99% all of the beliefs of all religious persons of all of time? And how, exactly, would you support that figure? I think you can see how supposedly 'logical' arguments seem to end up in so many total and vehement disagreements, with no one actually knowing what the other side means, only what they think is meant (in which case the disagreement is actually with our own understanding of what was meant , not what was actually meant). A simple philosophical question such as "Does God Exist?" requires a precise and non interpretable definitions of all three words in order to be subject to logical discussion or scientific investigation. And, even then, all we end up discussing or investigating is our limited definitions, which may bear no relation reality (again see Wittgenstein, proposition 1,2)

Yes, In know there are several logical errors in my reply, but it is still in the conversational, not precise, mode since no truly logical proposal has been formed yet.

27 posted on 04/06/2003 11:56:53 AM PDT by templar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Zon
The individual is accountable for his or her own actions and that correctly identifies the individual as the highest authority in their own life.

That is true, even when, as most people do, they abdicate both their authority and resposibility, surrendering their authority to any agency (government, religion) who promises them easy answers and thir responsibility to anyone who promises them security and guaranteed success.

Hank

28 posted on 04/06/2003 12:00:23 PM PDT by Hank Kerchief
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: templar
What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent." Be silent? Is that all? Great Zot! What you say!
29 posted on 04/06/2003 12:03:10 PM PDT by cornelis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: templar
A simple philosophical question such as "Does God Exist?" requires a precise and non interpretable definitions

But that he exists is not a matter of definition or refutation. Either he does or doesn't and either way, there isn't anything you can change by thinking and defining about it.

If that is not clear, nothing is.

30 posted on 04/06/2003 12:11:55 PM PDT by cornelis (Let's get a proxy to vote him out of existence.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: supercat
You are confusing testability with certainty.

Whether the drug is harmful or not may not be known with certainty, because of statistical fluctations, as you point out, but whether the drug is harmful or not is most certainly testable, as you also point out. If the uncertainty bothers you, you could at least in principle fund a larger test with, say, a billion animals instead of a dozen.

31 posted on 04/06/2003 12:15:24 PM PDT by coloradan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: coloradan
You are confusing testability with certainty

Forgivable. Merely child's play. The most dangerous game is to confuse certainty and clarity with reality.

32 posted on 04/06/2003 12:20:09 PM PDT by cornelis (The most evenly distributed commodoty among all mankind is common sense.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief; PatrickHenry; balrog666; Alamo-Girl; Phaedrus; beckett; cornelis
I would be interested in anyone's thought about applying the falsifiability concept to things like social policy, or religion.

Well, I'll bite, Hank Kerchief. FWIW. As to social policy, I'd have to give it some more thought. My initial impression is that, to the extent that the effects of social policy can be observed, perhaps there is a way the falsifiability principle might apply in social policy contexts. For instance, it can be observed that there frequently exists a direct correlation between tyrannical regimes and the poor state of individuals living in such regimes, in the areas of nutrition, health, personal security, etc., etc. Still, the question doesn't really seem to have the kind of immediate clear-cutness that readily lends itself to direct experiment. So I really don't know how far we can go in saying the falsifiability principle may apply.

The case respecting religion is a whole lot clearer to me. The "object" subject to test simply does not lie within the sphere of physical reality per se. It seems to me that science is constructed for the investigation of the physical world. Unlike the case of social policy (which necessarily has physical ramifications), it seems to me that to catalog and test the "effects" of various religious persuasions (if one could figure out how to do that) ultimately would only reach to the character of the believer and his culture, not to the "object" that inspires the belief. In effect, though you may be able to put, say, Saddam Hussein "in the dock," there's really no way to "put God in the dock."

I am sure I haven't expressed this very well. With prodding, maybe I'll do better next time.

Thank you for posting this penetrating and important essay.

33 posted on 04/06/2003 12:24:00 PM PDT by betty boop (If there were no brave men, there would be no free men. God bless our troops.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief
If there are sceintific truths which are "untestable," could you please name one.

I believe there are many scientific truths that are untestable. For instance, the mathematical truth that there are an infinite number of primes is untestable. This truth is easy to prove but impossible to test. But I’m not a mathematician and perhaps a rigorous proof is equivalent to a test. I differentiate the two myself.

34 posted on 04/06/2003 12:34:15 PM PDT by avg_freeper (Gunga galunga. Gunga, gunga galunga)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief
"Are you implying that the methods of science are other than objective?"

Well, sure. Politics, hunches, intuition, socioeconomic background, religious prejudice (including atheism) all figure prominently in human activity - and science is a human activity. Kuhn, Lakatos, and Feyerabend have all explored this.
35 posted on 04/06/2003 12:39:11 PM PDT by NukeMan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: templar
By stating that you 'beleieve' you are implying that you do not 'know'.

In every day language, when someone says, "I believe," something, they only mean this is the view I hold, and it indicates nothing about how they came to hold that view. When religious people say, "I believe whatever my leader says," it means they hold their views on authority, not rationally.

In short, you are using an opinion in an argument that began with logic.

Actually my opinion not only begins with logic, but is based on reason from the evidence and logic all the way to the end. I do not believe anything (hold as true) except on the basis of logic and reason. Since you misinterpreted what I mean by believe, your premise about speculation is gone.

Also, I am not a fan of Russell, et. al., and regard this "perfect logical language," nonsense, a pedantic ruse as philosophically useful as his "windowless monads." (Good grief!)

Now you asked: For instance, by saying " I believe 99% of those things the religious believe" do you really mean the majority of the religious tennets you are familiar with or do you mean an actual numerical 99% of the religious beliefs of Zoroastrians, or Christians, or Muslims, etc., or do you mean a numerical 99% all of the beliefs of all religious persons of all of time?

All the above!

And you asked: And how, exactly, would you support that figure?

On the basis that it is very conservative and adequate for a discussion on a forum. In reality the figure is certainly higher than 99%, but may not be quite 100%.

First, all religions disagree, or they would not be different religions. They may all be untrue, but if any of them are true, all the rest are untrue. Within any religion, there are factions. There are factions, because there are disagreements. Therefore, if any religion is true, within that religion, mayber no faction is correct, but if any faction is correct, all the rest are incorrect.

As you see, the field of possibly true religious belief has already become extremely small.

Within the field of religion, there are some beliefs that have a small measure of plausibility. Most religions are absurd from the outset. Of those that have something worth examining, most turn out to contain teachings that are rationally unacceptable as well.

In the Christian religion, for example, virtually every denomination accepts certain traditional teachings as doctrine which both disagree with their own Scriptures and reason.

When I said 99% of those things the religious believe are mostly irrational, I was being generous. There is very little evidence, if any, that anything religious, the religious believe is not superstition. I just did not have the heart to say 100%, with a possible exception or two I have not discovered.

Then you said, I think you can see how supposedly 'logical' arguments seem to end up in so many total and vehement disagreements, with no one actually knowing what the other side means, only what they think is meant (in which case the disagreement is actually with our own understanding of what was meant , not what was actually meant).

...but, I have no idea what it means.

(Warning, the above contains both reason and rhetoric, some serious, some for fun. Watch your step.)

Hank

36 posted on 04/06/2003 12:43:09 PM PDT by Hank Kerchief
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief
"If there are sceintific truths which are "untestable," could you please name one."

For one thing, most science makes the assumption that the laws of nature do not vary significantly over space and time: nature is uniform. Secondly, you are using a variant of logical positivism as the criterion of truth (you must be able to verify in some way your hypothesis, or at least falsify others). But the verifiability criterion itself cannot be verified.
37 posted on 04/06/2003 12:45:15 PM PDT by NukeMan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief
I can prove that I am the worlds greatest lover by asking my wife "Honey, am I the worlds greatest lover?"

And her reply, though in a very sarcastic way with a roll of the eyes, is "Sure Dear, your the best."

Therefore, according to the theory of falsifiability, I am the World's Greatest Lover,

and ask that henceforth, you show the respect that the title deserves. (/sarcasm)

38 posted on 04/06/2003 12:48:45 PM PDT by DainBramage
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cornelis
"What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent." Be silent? Is that all? Great Zot! What you say!"

Wittgenstein said that first...If he can't say it, I'm not gonna try.
39 posted on 04/06/2003 12:54:13 PM PDT by NukeMan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: coloradan
I agree. From what I recall, experiments rely on counting observations of test and control groups. The observations are compiled into descriptive statistics. The statistics are used to determine probabilities that may have some predictive value varying by degree. The underlying assumption of the predictive stats is that they may be predictive within some "confidence interval". Such a methodology does not "prove" the truth of anything. At best, the methodology can only provide evidence of what the truth may be.

Scientific facts are not truth. They are merely a collection of observations arranged into subsets. Relationships between the subsets are expressed as probalilities where subsets may be mutually exclusive. Serious science rarely presents such data without explicitly stating the confidence interval. Users of the information can then determine how much weight to give the data; therefore, how seriously to take the conclusions.

40 posted on 04/06/2003 1:23:31 PM PDT by PretzeLogic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: tame
misleading and incorrect

We'll get no further than does the UN in our debates until we all agree to certain definitions. Even Clinton knows that.

41 posted on 04/06/2003 1:25:25 PM PDT by RightWhale
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief
Can you devise an experiment to prove (or by its failure, disprove) the idea of evolution? If no experiment is possible, does that mean evolution is not a theory?
42 posted on 04/06/2003 1:29:50 PM PDT by plusone
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief; Fzob; P.O.E.; PeterPrinciple; MWS; reflecting; DannyTN; FourtySeven; x; ...


PHILOSOPHY PING


The future of free will
Address:http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/886565/posts
43 posted on 04/06/2003 1:32:32 PM PDT by tpaine
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: NukeMan
science is a human activity

Couldn't disagree with you there.

Feyerabend! Can you imagine what Socrates and he would have said while walking among the shades!

44 posted on 04/06/2003 1:33:18 PM PDT by cornelis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: tpaine; Hank Kerchief
Thanks for the pings. I've got company coming over today - I'll read this later.
45 posted on 04/06/2003 1:51:22 PM PDT by P.O.E. (God Bless and keep safe our troops.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 43 | View Replies]

To: betty boop
As to social policy, I'd have to give it some more thought. My initial impression is that, to the extent that the effects of social policy can be observed, perhaps there is a way the falsifiability principle might apply in social policy contexts.

There is some evidence that could be used by so-called "social scientists," but they usually don't want to be bothered. For example:

1. Whenever a socialist and a free-market society exist side-by-side, people almost always flee to the free-market society. Examples: East & West Berlin, Red China & Hong Kong, Cuba & Florida. The refugees never go in the other direction.

2. Whenever people have a choice of living communally or with private property, they very rarely choose communal living. Examples: Israel's kibutz system, occasional communal experiments in the US.

3. Controlled economies never out-produce private economies, when all factors are equal. Examples are rare, but the best is the private plots that Stalin permitted to exist on his communal farms, which were about ten times as productive as the nearby land.

4. Cutting marginal tax rates always increases tax revenues. At least that's the lesson of Kennedy's tax rate cuts, and Reagan's.

But such experiments are rare, and zealots for controlled economies can always argue that their system hasn't really been given a good trial. There are other experiments too. The war on poverty has failed, the war on drugs has failed. But the advocates of these programs won't ever admit it. So whatcha gonna do? If "social scientists" don't want to behave in a truly scientific manner, and accept the failures of their experiments, one must conclude that they aren't engaged in science at all.
46 posted on 04/06/2003 1:57:26 PM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: avg_freeper
I believe there are many scientific truths that are untestable. For instance, the mathematical truth that ...

Math is fundamentally different from science. Math is about constructs of the mind, such as "numbers" and "primes" and "equalateral triangles" and their relationships. It may or may not apply to physical reality, but there need not be such a reality for the concepts to have strict logical consistancy.

Science, OTOH, is about nature and the way things work. Light moves at a certain speed, bends through water and gravitational fields, and can dislodge electrons from certain metals. When you mix certain chemicals, they change color or explode. Electric current causes compass needles to move. Etc. Scientific "facts" are less strongly known than mathematical facts - there could be some level of external gravitational field, or velocity, at which what is believed to be true turns out to be measurably not so. But the fact that 2+2 = 2x2 = 2^2 does not depend on gravity, the speed of light, or anything else.

there are an infinite number of primes is untestable. This truth is easy to prove but impossible to test.

I disagree: the proof is not only simple, but it certainly generates what must be an infinite list of primes. The proof is, take all the primes you know of, multiply them together, and add 1. The new number can't possibly be wholly divided by any of its divisors - it therefore must be prime or be a composite number containing prime factors not in the original list. No matter how many primes you multiply, there is always at least one more. Hence, the number of primes must be, quite simply, infinite.

But I’m not a mathematician and perhaps a rigorous proof is equivalent to a test. I differentiate the two myself.

A proof is different from a test: A proof is a demonstration of certainty, while a test is merely a demonstration of likelihood. To my knowledge there are no proofs in science: It might yet be shown that everything presently understood is wrong within some domain, that we haven't explored yet and might not even be aware exists.

47 posted on 04/06/2003 1:57:29 PM PDT by coloradan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: cornelis
I can't really imagine, but I'd guess a lot of shouting going on...
48 posted on 04/06/2003 2:01:21 PM PDT by NukeMan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 44 | View Replies]

To: coloradan
You are right; I realized my point was incorrect a while after posting it. In fact the common technique for proving an infinite number of primes is through a proof by contradiction. This would subject the hypothesis "there are an infinite number of primes" to a test of truth. So in retrospect I guess I can't think of any untestable scientific truths.
49 posted on 04/06/2003 2:12:10 PM PDT by avg_freeper (Gunga galunga. Gunga, gunga galunga)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 47 | View Replies]

To: Hank Kerchief
I won't even attempt to identify the fallacies you have stated as truths as they are too many. You're trying to make opinion and personal belief pass as fact. It won't work with me. if you want to discuss philosophy (or any other subject, for that matter), it is your responisbility to state in to me in a manner which is clear, concise and precise, not my responsibility to somehow guess what you mean and then hope that I am right and discussing what you mean and not what I erroneously think you mean. In other words, it is the duty of the communicator to state his case in such a manner as to be understood. Mind reading in not a valid tool in a logical discussion. A concept from NLP is sometimes useful: The results you are getting is what you are communicating. This means that when someone questions what one of your assertions means, or totally misunderstands it, that you have failed to state it effectively (I'm not talking about disagreeing with the assertion, just not understanding it; although I would hold that much disagreement is the result of misunderstanding the speaker, not actual opposition to the position the speaker wishes to profess).

Try going back and studying the fallacies link you provided and then identifying the fallacies in your post and you will be able to state whatever position you have in a manner that I can understand it. Otherwise, we might as well be speaking similar but different languages. Languages just similar enough to cause us to believe we are speaking the same language without realizing we are speaking some type of gibberish to each other.

50 posted on 04/06/2003 2:18:16 PM PDT by templar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-150151-200 ... 851-892 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson