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

Re: [APD] Science

David Aiken wrote:
> No I'm not. Water by definition is a liquid. Ice and steam are not.  
> You don't always get a liquid when you combine 2 hydrogen atoms with  
> 1 oxygen atom.
> Water is definitely H20 but not all H20 is water.

Yes it is. This is purely ridiculous and does not merit any further 
discussion. Ice, steam, and liquid water are all phases of the same 
substance we call water.

> You may not have to know everything about everything in order to  
> develop a law explaining one tiny aspect of it, but you do have to  
> know everything affecting that tiny aspect in order to develop a  
> perfect law explaining it. Otherwise how would you know that your law  
> was perfect.

Exactly my point. You were saying that we could never have a physical 
law that was 100% accurate until we knew everything about the entire 
Universe. I was pointing out that you actually can compartmentalize 
things that operate independently of each other.

> What wreaks of mysticism is the idea that scientific knowledge as it  
> stands at any given time, in whole or in part, is immutable in  
> principle.

I suppose if it makes someone feel better to think that, that's OK. 
Mysticism, however, as I am speaking of it, is the absurd notion that 
there are forces at work in the Universe which we can never understand 
and that the known laws of physics are subject to change at any time. I 
think you are confusing theory with law.

> Sorry but we can't say that 'a priori'. 'a priori' means that  
> something is true independent of our experience. All scientific  
> knowledge is 'a posteriori' since it is built on the experience of  
> our observations. You can't assert that it is wrong a priori for  
> someone to claim to have discovered something that contradicts  
> something we believe a posteriori.

Sure you can. I see which side of the analytic/synthetic philosophical 
divide you are on, but I think it is splitting semantical hairs. 
"Independent of experience" in the sense that it does not need to be 
tested in order to be summarily dismissed as false.

> Miniscule differences in the results of a calculation are neither  
> negligible nor irrelevant scientifically. Asserting that a difference  
> of 0.0000002 mg/L in CO2 concentrations is a better target is  
> ridiculous because no hobbyist could measure things that finely and  
> because that difference in the small volumes of our tanks really  
> would not make a difference. But no one has argued that such a  
> difference would be better - you're putting words in other people's  
> mouths there.

I'm not putting words into anyone's mouth. I offered an example of how 
the difference between Newtonian physics and General Relativity is 
inconsequential in everyday affairs on Earth.

  > For a start we can't count on any aspect of our knowledge as being
> whole, complete, and 100% accurate. That would mean that that aspect  
> could never be refined any further. How can you prove that is the  
> case?

There is a difference between something being correct and being able to 
prove it is correct. Which one are you challenging?

Aside from that, it is through observation and experimentation that you 
can prove something is correct or incorrect. How did we know that 
General Relativity was a better gravitational theory than Newton's? 
Because it predicted the behavior of Mercury that Newtonian 
gravitational equations couldn't account for, for one.

Of course it is possible to invent all sorts of fantastical situations 
to make the point that nothing is really known for sure. As an example, 
you could say that perhaps round pegs fit into square holes on the other 
side of the galaxy in a special box constructed by gnomes. It may even 
be possible, but it has no bearing.

> If you can't prove it is the case, you can't claim that aspect  
> as being whole, complete and 100% accurate.

I think you are trying to pigeon-hole the idea that a law can explain 
everything we have ever seen, and everything we ever will see, with the 
epistemological idea of the knowledge *actually* being true and correct.

> As for scientific 'laws'  
> that were supported by observations that were available at the time  
> and have since been proven to be totally wrong, we can start with the  
> belief that the sun and planets revolve around the earth.  Then
> Copernicus claimed that the earth and planets revolved around the sun  
> in circular paths. We now believe in elliptical paths. The first  
> belief was totally wrong, and Copernicus's view has essentially been  
> modified. We now regard both accounts as theories - the first as a  
> mistaken theory and the second as a flawed theory. Both were accepted  
> as laws of science in their days.

I don't believe they were accepted as "laws of science." They were 
theories that were thought to be true. I truly believe you are 
misunderstanding the difference between a law and a theory.

  And of course, any 'law' that gets
> proven wrong in whole or in part immediately has its status  
> downgraded to that of a flawed or mistaken theory. Our 'laws' are  
> merely the currently accepted hypothoses.

Not true at all. Laws are hypothesis that have survived innumerable 
attempts to disprove them, have had their predictions borne out time and 
time again. Theories are much more fluid and don't always predict 
something. A law always predicts an outcome to set of circumstances. I 
am curious what successful predictions were made by the Copernican "law" 
and others you mention.

> All scientific laws are 'a posteriori' since they are built on  
> observation, and observations can be refined and hitherto unnoticed  
> features noticed.


> How do you think our understanding of the place of  
> the earth in the solar system and galaxy changed. Astronomical  
> observations were refined and other discoveries like Newton's account  
> of gravity were used to refine previous calculations. No scientist  
> would claim that any physical law is immutable because of that  
> possibility of refinement and revision due to changes in related  
> theories. All scientists will regard some laws as much more certain  
> and less likely to be subject to change than others, but no  
> respectable scientist would ever claim that none of our current laws  
> could ever be the subject of refinement and development.

Again, why do you insist on tying the entire body of scientific 
knowledge together in one lump? Of course nobody is going to say that 
not one aspect of the current scientific knowledge will ever change.

> We have a  
> variety of terms for those who assert that their knowledge on  
> anything is complete and totally accurate, and they start with  
> 'mistaken' as the most polite and get much worse from there.  
> 'Scientist' is not one of those terms.

Did I miss something? I don't think I ever said anything of the sort, 
nor did I suggest it. It seems like you had something you wanted to say 
and needed to fabricate a reason to do so around it.

Jerry Baker
Aquatic-Plants mailing list
Aquatic-Plants at actwin_com