[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [APD] Science

On 03/11/2005, at 11:53 AM, Jerry Baker wrote - cutting everything  
except the one statement I want to comment on:

> I say if you have two people, one who accepts laws that have  
> already been established and proven, and the other who does not,  
> then the former is possessed of more knowledge than the latter.  
> That's not an insult, just a fact.

The 'laws' of physics are always subject to revision and they  have  
been known to be revised on occasion. The fact that something  
disagrees with what is currently accepted does not make it  
automatically wrong. The onus is on the claimant to prove their  
claim, and there's a fairly steep uphill slope for them to push  
things up in order to do that, but it does happen on occasion. You  
can't prove that a claim is wrong simply by saying that it violates  
what is currently accepted, but you can say that it is extremely  
unlikely that they are right.

So the person who accepts "laws that have already been established  
and proven" may not always be in possession of more knowledge than  
the person who doesn't in relation to an issue at question. It's  
quite possible, even probable, that they are, but sometimes people do  
come up with new things that fly in the face of what is accepted, and  
which revise or replace what has previously been accepted. If the  
person who does not accept the currently accepted view in your  
comparison just happens to be the person who really does come up with  
something new that replaces something currently accepted with a new  
view of things, then one could quite rightly say that they do know  
more than the person who accepts laws that have already been  
established and proven.

Scientific knowledge doesn't only grow by a simple accretion of new  
'facts' and 'laws' that simply get added to whatever 'facts' and  
'laws' have already been accepted. Revision occurs also and sometimes  
what has previously been accepted gets thrown out or modified. We're  
never in a position to claim that any particular 'fact' or 'law' is  
the final and complete statement of knowledge on something, simply  
because we don't know what new discoveries will be found in the future.

I'm not taking sides in the debate between you and Tom on the  
behaviour of CO2 in the aquarium - I don't  know enough to argue the  
points one way or another. I'm simply taking exception to one of your  
claims which puts currently accepted scientific knowledge on an  
unassailable pedestal. Scientific knowledge is never unassailable in  
principle so it can never be placed on that particular pedestal. It's  
always extremely hard to prove something which revises what is  
currently accepted but it isn't impossible and scientists who say  
that something can't be true because it disagrees with current  
knowledge have been known to end up with  egg on their face and the  
discovery that they didn't know quite as much as they thought.

If Tom is making a claim that disagrees with what is currently  
accepted, then the onus is rightly on him to prove it, but you can't  
'disprove' his proof simply by saying that it disagrees with what is  
accepted. You have to show that there is a mistake somewhere in the  
observations and/or deductions he made. The way that tends to be done  
is by attempting to replicate his study and coming up with different  
results. It's definitely not an armchair exercise. You can't prove a  
claim wrong by saying that it has to be wrong since it disagrees with  
something currently believed unless you're in a position to prove  
that nothing currently believed is wrong and about the only entity  
most people grant that level of omniscience to is god. Unfortunately  
god usually tends to be unavailable as a witness on matters of  
scientific dispute or we'd all know a lot more than we do.

David Aiken

Aquatic-Plants mailing list
Aquatic-Plants at actwin_com