RE: Scientific method = device for accurately identifying incorre ct thinking?

From: Dickey, Michael F (
Date: Thu Jan 10 2002 - 13:05:13 MST

From: "Anders Sandberg" <>
> > Scientific method = device for accurately identifying incorrect
> This is another thread, but I would like to point out that 1) whether it
> is universally accurate is strongly debated

I'd say "weakly" debated rather than "strongly" -- and add that the debate
hasn't produced anything nearly as useful as what science has produced. When
device for accurately identifying incorrect thinking surpasses the ability
the scientific method to do so, we can measure the extent of its success by
using the scientific method.


Id have to agree, and possibley add *very* weakly, and then only by
_philosophers_ of science most practicing scientists do not think to highly
of 'philosophy of science' To emphasize this point, let me reference
'Paradigms Lost' by John L. Casti starting on page 47...

  "In 1979 the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton held a celebration
to honor the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of
  Einstein, the institute first and most celebrated resident genius. To plan
for this celebration, a committee was formed at the institute to
  arrange a program and invite scholars from around the world to
participate. Just as Caesar divided all Gual into three parts, the IAS
  committee decided to organize the Einstein centennial similarly, focusing
on Einstein's science, the historical genesis of his ideas, and,
  finally, the philosophical impact of his work. As Freeman Dyson tells it,
the committee solicited the names and put together lists of
  scholars who could be invited in each of three areas. The committee was
personally acquainted with almost everyone on the lists of
  scientists. As to the historians, the committee didn't know them
personally but at least had heard of most of the them and knew of their
  work. But when it came to the philosophers of science, Dyson remarks that
the committee was not only unfamiliar with them personally,
  but had never even heard the names of most of them! More than any abstract
argument could ever hope to show, this little episode
  conveys the level of contact between the activities of the working
scientists and the arguments of the philosopher: It is exactly zero! In
  Dyson's words, "There's a whole culture of philosophy out there somewhere
with which we have no contacts at all... there's really little
  contact between what we call science and what these philosophers of
science are doing- whatever that is."

  Dyson's observation serves to unravel the contradiction noted a moment ago
between the beliefs of scientists and those of
  philosophers. As far as most practicing scientists are concerned, there's
nothing more dangerous than a philosopher in the grip of a
  theory. In fact, there appears to be something of an unrequited love
affair between the scientists and the philosophers, in which the
  scientists by and large spend their days ignoring the attempts by the
philosophers to press their attentions upon them. As an indicator
  of the state of affairs, the physicists Murray Gell-Mann at all times
carries with him a doctors prescription forbidding him to argue with
  philosophers on the grounds that it could be dangerous to his health!

  So we come to the perhaps not so surprising conclusion that if you want to
know about how scientists really think and work, you'll get
  no help from a philosopher of science. However, if you concerns go beyond
what scientists do and encompass the broader issues of the
  significance of what they do and its relations ships to other
knowledge-generating mechanisms, then, as noted before, a consideration
  of matters of philosophical is unavoidable."

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