Re: "What is Science" FAQ, draft 2

Mon, 20 Sep 1999 11:19:48 +0200

It appears as if Ken Clements <> wrote:
|Larry Klaes wrote:
|> Q: Is science the only epistemology necessary?
|> A: No. Science tells us what we can do with the universe, it can not
|> tell us what we should do.
|I do not totally agree with this part. Science tells us what the universe
|*is*, engineering predicts what we can do with it, and when we do, that is
|technology. The popular press confuses all this on a regular basis, which
|leads people to resent scientists for some undesirable use of technology.

Scientists make models on the data they get from the universe using their (enhanced or non-enhanced) senses. According to our senses, the data comes from an outside world. As far as science is concerned, we could all be living in Matrix-like chambers getting all our sense data from an AI. Whether the sense data universe ``is'' the ``real'' universe is irrelevant to science. Many people believe (religion!) that this holds, however. Even scientists do that. That does not make it science, though. Science tells us what the (sense) university _does_, not what it ``is''. Philosophies and religions discuss the ``is'' part.

On the confusion of science and technology, one cannot separate research and development easily today. Some corporations have research departments of their own. Others pay outside researchers to do research for them, using sponsorships and ``special projects''.

This might explain the confusion in the popular mind.

|Scientists use technology to get data about the universe, from which, they
|tell us more about what it is. Engineers use the theory from science to
|develop new technology. This bootstrap process is self sustaining, and that
|is one of the reasons why it keeps going no matter what anyone likes or
|doesn't like about the results. I do not think there is any "should do"
|going on here, it just does.

I agree. The ``should'' stuff belongs to the philopsophies and religions.

|IMHO the universe (given its large expanse of time and space) follows the
|following rule:
|Anything that can happen, will happen, somewhere, sooner or later.

Would not that require infinite time and space?

|And again, IMHO, reality is the subset of the above that has enough pattern
|integrity to last long enough for you to notice it.

Humans define what they want to call ``reality''. Who decide when there exists two conflicting definitions?