Re: Science vs Truth ?

Yak Wax (
Sat, 2 May 1998 07:17:39 -0700 (PDT)

Ian Goddard wrote:
> IAN: So there's no difference between false
> and true statements? Statements transmit know-
> ledge. If what A knows is false and what B knows
> is true, the knowledge of each is equally scientific.

Granted you can look at "true" in the sense of a scientific truth i.e.
"this complies with 100% of our observations at present time." But I
was opposing scientific "truth" presented as a competing against
religious truth. The popular definition of "truth" is that which is
unquestionable - clearly this is not scientific. So if religion and
science have very different ideas about what is true and what is
false, using science to prove religion to be false is an entirely
pointless exercise.

> Pseudoscience would simply be the absence of knowledge.

Much pseudo-science comes from presenting the result of scientific
knowledge to those without that knowledge. That result is generally
information (i.e. the information "time travel is possible" can lead
to really bad Star Trek plots without the writers "knowing" that time
travel is possible).

> I disagree. I also am not convinced that knowledge =>
> constant increase. A person could have a fixed set of
> things they know, and it does not spontaneously repl-
> icate into more knowledge. The set of all raccoons
> have probably maintained a pretty constant level
> of knowledge. I think true and a false are
> attributes of knowledge, growth is not.

Not spontaneous growth, but the ability for growth. Information that
leads to nothing is clearly not knowledge. "Knowing" something
implies a level of understanding, but the term "know" is used more
generally to mean "remember" without understanding. I'll agree that
"true" and "false" can be attributes of knowledge (in the specific
scientific sense outlined above). But "true" is not an absolute and
it's important to be careful of how you use terms such as "true" and
"false" because they are presumed an absolute by both religious groups
and some scientists. However, I still think that science does not
seek truth in either sense. When faced with an observational truth (a
theory that complies with 100% of evidence so far) science will still
consider alternatives (which your definition would consider false)
even before evidence suggests the current truth is false. Also,
science routinely uses theory that has been proven "false" by
evidence. So science is far fuzzier than simple truths.

> Knowledge growth is an attribute of desire to
> learn and of the mental capacity to do so.

If you have no desire or mental capacity to use (and therefore
understand) the information you're given, then do you "know" it?
Remember that I said, "knowledge creates more knowledge and/or
information" if it only creates information then it is not "growing"
as such. Information can come from implementing knowledge in the real
world (i.e. I know how to build a car, I build a car, there is a car)
as well as simply creating a mental model.

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