The limitations of the scientific method and scientism

Discussion in 'Pseudoscience Archive' started by Quantum Quack, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    I was going to post what I thought was really good video but unfortunately the presenter moved towards Christian Evangelism towards the end of it and I felt that I had to retract the video for fear of offering bait to those who consider religion to be fair game thus detracting from the issue I wanted to suggest for discussion.
    If I can edit the video I shall represent it clearly and quite succinctly points out the incredible limitations science has when attempting to accommodate humanity with it's scientific methodology.

    Possibly it would be more appropriate before I pre-empt other posters comments to simply ask if any one wishes to discuss the limitations of science and how those limitation can reduce science s capacity to deal with the big issues facing this world today.

    There are many things [ of a non religious nature ] that science can not possibly examine using the scientific method.
    "Just because science can not examine adequately doesn't mean that that event did not happen nor does it mean that the value or meaning of those events is invalid."

    IMO Scientism or the claim of such needs to be tempered with out reference to religious theoretics to be discussed properly.

    Care to discuss?
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  3. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Not surprising, since evangelicals feel threatened by science.

    You might start by noting that catastrophism (one of the tenets of fundamentalism) is fair game since it violates natural law.

    that fundamentalist attacks on science do not require an understanding of fundamentalism?

    You would first want to be succinct about "accommodating humanity" which is incredibly vague.

    Here you're limiting science to those fields that deal with world problems. That would presumably exclude a lot of the fields people typically associate with science (physical sciences, for example) and lean more in the direction of the science of economics -- since that's presumably considered the leading problem in the world. But the capacity for economics does not appear to be flagging, and its sciences in modeling and simulation are highly developed.

    Yes, science can't examine anything that presents no evidence.

    What does "science can not examine adequately" mean? That there is no evidence? And what how does "meaning" apply to whether events occurred or not? Sounds like a vague generalization. Note, the assertion that an event happened, when there is no evidence to support it, it worse than saying there's no way of knowing whether or not it happened. However, the mythical inventions of antiquity would be excluded since they are mere fabrications. For those, we can infer that they never happened as they are merely the product of fiction. The same would be true of modern incarnations of the ancient fiction. The act of conjuring bald unsupportable beliefs as tenable claims is a substantial piece of evidence that invalidates the belief.

    Depends on what you mean by scientism. The link you cited gives several people's interpretations, including this:

    Philosopher Daniel Dennett responded to criticism of his book Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by saying that "when someone puts forward a scientific theory that [religious critics] really don't like, they just try to discredit it as 'scientism'"
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  5. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Possibly you could find another way to open a good and useful discussion on the limitations of Science and the scientific method?
    I and no doubt other look forward to reading your OP...
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  7. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Ok an example of the limitations of science:
    there is absolutely no way that the evidence I am about to present can be properly assessed by using the scientific method:

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    When was this image created? [ a definite date time does exist]
    By who was this image created? [ it definitely has a creator]
    Who was it created for?
    What meaning was intended by the use of a line drawing?
    Was it created by a human or machine? [either one?]
    What can science actually tell us about the evidence presented as an image [not a lot]
    Why a blue background of that particular shade and texture?

    Yet the evidence is present and the details that science cannot examine are also available but not provided. [because none of those details could be confirmed as scientifically verifiable]

    Does the lack of Scientific method/process invalidate the evidence?
  8. Tamorph Registered Member

    The picture is an attachment, (001blk.jpg Dimensions350 × 350File size21.1 KBMIME typeimage/jpeg zeropointtheory) Given access to this sites server I could of course find out exactly when it was created on this website. Given access to the zeropoint theory website server (from where it was copied) I could also find our when it was created on their website.

    Again, from the server I could obtain the IP number of your computer. Presumably I could also email the webmaster of the original website it was copied from.

    In this instance it was 'obviously' created on this site to prove a point to us sceptics. That doesn't preclude the likelihood that it was created originally for another purpose that would be easy to ascertain from the original website that published the image.

    That the original purpose from which this image was copied was trying to describe something best illustrated in 2d rather than 3d.

    It was undoubtedly created by both. There is obvious human input, whether in the software or the actual drawing. There was obvious machine input, as the drawing had to be converted to electrical format in order to be transferred to the server and displayed on my monitor.

    Science can tell us quite a lot (as described above).

    There are several possible answers regarding the color
    1. The reason for the color may have been given on the original website the image came from.
    2. The color may have been created on the screen using RGBA, or HSL, or HSLA, or RGB. Each method of creating colors on a computer screen has advantages and disadvantages. If I was all that bothered (which I'm not) I could download the image and find our which method was used. That would give me some insight into the reasons why the creator used that particular method.
    3. I could go to the originating website and ask on their forum.

    I think I've provided sufficient evidence to disprove the above statement. I have 'properly assessed' the evidence using the 'scientific method'. If you right click on your image and then click on 'view source' it tells you the website that you copied the image from. Presumably, I could have simply gone to that site, read everything on it, and found most of the answers. Even without doing that there is a wealth of information obtained in the image itself (direct evidence) and a wealth of information in the wording and tone of you questions (indirect evidence).

    The limitation is not in science. The limitation is in your understanding of science. There are many areas where science does not have the answers, but science still theorises and experiments. The answers may be limited in some areas, but there are no areas I can think of where scientists are not trying to find ways of extending knowledge and finding those answers. It's some answers that are limited not the science.
  9. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    You response doesn't address the question when was it created and even if I told you it was created 20 years ago before my now deceased friend from Iceland owned a computer, how would you scientifically verify the time and date even approximately. How would you be able to arrive at a conclusive result due to your analysis?
    How would you scientifically prove the identity of the creator? Even if my friend in Iceland owned up how would you be able to verify he was telling the truth. [my friend in ice land is dead and he left a video message... for example...]
    obviously according to the scientific method ... you sure?
    I guess a hypothesis is a good start... but guess again...
    I think you need to look up what scientific method means...and I think that it does not include guessing except as hypothesis. How would you arrive at a science method derived conclusion?

    and you feel your opinion which is all you have offered is doing science? yes?

    Asking in a forum is not very scientific , after all they could tell you anything...
    what if the image turns out to be a scan of a scan that was hand delivered by Neil Armstrong after arriving back from one of his ET trips?

    you have not provided any solutions to the questions asked other than opinion and hypothesis.
    well if it is my lack of understanding then please forgive me but I beg to differ.
    The point that I was trying to make is well demonstrated by your opinions and not scientific process or methodology.
    You can not scientifically assess this image correctly .. it is impossible as in the final assessment you can not identify it's creator [ no dna is present nothing that would actually identify the creator if this image. Only eye witness testimony if available and we all know how scientific that is.
    However the evidence of the image is available as yo can see it on your screen right now.Does the lack of being able to apply scientific methodology prove that the image does not exist?

    of course not...
  10. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Another possibly more threatening example could be as follows:

    You look up at the night sky and see all those stars up there. Science tells you using the scientific method that those stars may actually not be there in fact, the data we are looking at in some cases is millions if not billions of years obsolete.
    What science is telling us is that what we are witnessing is ancient history and has no bearing that can be actually scientifically founded using the method it uses on what is actually happening today in the universe.

    Cosmic expansion occurred millions possibly billions of years ago ... Does cosmic expansion happen today?

    How can the scientific method tell us what is happening in the universe today? [ beyond our solar system for example]
  11. Tamorph Registered Member

    By a series of deductions I have come to the conclusion that the original picture was created in 1993 in Iceland by your friend.

    You didn't show me the original, however, you showed me a copy that was created on a page of this forum. The date of creation of the image I saw was the date you put it on the server of this website.
  12. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Or if it can examine them, it's methods are likely to be indirect, cumbersome and perhaps not tremendously effective.

    Love, beauty, music and our sense or right and wrong might fit that description.

    It's possible to produce neuroscientific accounts of those things. But no neuroscientific account of color perception that's expressed in words or in writing, no matter how detailed we make it, will ever substitute for being an organism with the necessary physiology that's actually looking at a colored object and experiencing color that way. It's just a fact that thinking and talking about something is very different than actually doing whatever it is. Science is basically an intellectual pursuit, intended to produce objective knowledge, not subjective experiences.

    As I see it, the basic epistemological problem is not only: Why do you think you know that? It's more along the lines of: Why should I join you in believing it too?

    So I'm perfectly willing to accept that stuff like religious experience exists. There have been too many reports of it for me to deny that people do report these experiences. The problem is that religious experiences are subjective, personal and private. They address the first question above, the 'Why do you think you know that'. But religious experience leaves the second question hanging, by failing to give me a sound and persuasive reason to join them in believing in the supposed content of the experience.

    It's like psychotic delusions, I believe they exist, but I'm a lot more hesitant to believe in the reality of their content.

    The same kind of analysis applies to things like beauty. A person might look at something and then report to me that they found it beautiful. Fine, I know why they think it's beautiful. But I won't really know that I agree with them that it's beautiful until I look at it myself.

    We don't typically have as much problem with aesthetic experience as we do with religious experience, because aesthetic experience still refers to this common physical world that we all inhabit. It just refers to the common world in an experiential way that's different from the analytical and conceptual manner that science addresses the same things. Religious experience often (but not always) seems to have a supposedly transcendental referrant that isn't located in the world of common experience at all.
  13. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Unfortunately the logic deduction you have arrived at requires support by the scientific method before it could possibly be accepted as scientific evidence and not a sort of pseudo philosophy.
    The main reason is that you are relying on my word for it and the word of the creator and not the evidence presented only.

    I don't mean to denigrate your use of logic or reason, so please forgive me if you feel I am, but it fails to address the questions raised in the OP regarding the use and limitations of the scientific method.
    For example the method does not allow eyewitness testimony, if I am not mistaken.
    It does not allow unsupported hypothesis.
    It requires the need to reduce the potential of mistake and fraud to as close to zero as possible and propose an error factor perhaps...
    the chances of you being wrong due to reliance on my word only is extremely high. [ IN this instance ] and it is the need to use a method to rule out the potential for mistake. [ removal of opinion and testimony which is always a "call to authority" that being the self ]
  14. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Well said however I wished to avoid the need to use religious experience as a pivotal issue for this thread. As the scientific method has far greater limitations than the most controversial - that being religious believe and experience.

    in response to an asinine attack recently regarding the method and human behavior, I posted the following:

    "It deserves no attention from those that require evidence according to the scientific method that is incapable of dealing with certain types of evidence. Namely evidence that is NOT deliberately repeatable Nor predictable.

    Therefore whilst a non-animated and very predictable universe deserves your attention the human race and it's behavior is a little different and can not be adequately accommodated by the scientific method.
    In other words science can deal quite well with non-animated, non-self determining entities and evidence but is hopeless at dealing with the unpredictability of self determining animated human behavior.

    So your demand that human behavior somehow conform to the scientific method is ridiculous and a demand that only an naive and ignorant person would make.

    When you are able to set up a testing regime [and scientific method] that allows for unpredictability, transient once off events, and the freewill of those participating then and only then will you be equipped with the tools to make a scientifically founded observation.

    Now, I know with absolute certainty I am right in this matter so any pooh poohing or egocentric avoidance from you is irrelevant as it will change nothing about what I just wrote.

    The crazy person here is the one demanding evidence using a yard stick that is totally incompatible and terribly unscientific. YOU are demanding an impossibility and that MAKES YOU the crazy person not me."

    as an attempt to bring some sort of sanity back to the use of the scientific method.
  15. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    No I couldn't. For one thing it would duplicate the thread.
    You need look no further than right here to read my posts on this subject.
    You give no such example.
    First you need a factual predicate. Then comes evidence.

    On the date you posted it and at every moment that readers happened to display it on their screens.

    Anybody and/or nobody. (as in machine-created)

    Anybody and/or nobody.

    Any and/or none.

    Neither. It was partly made using hardware and software, and in part it was made out of natural elements (like photons). It's devoid of a human aspect.

    It can tell you that the illustration not been given as evidence of anything, and that it has nothing to do with the scientific method.

    Any and/or no reason.

    No, it has not been shown to be evidence of anything. It hasn't been shown to relate to science at all, either. So far, it's only been used as a strawman.

    No it only invalidates your process. In actual cases of scientific evidence (such as Galileo's discovery of the moons of Jupiter) previous evidence (i.e. Genesis) is invalidated. So, yes, correctly executed, the scientific method can validate certain evidence and invalidate other evidence.

    Keep in mind that when we say "scientific evidence" we are generally referring to actual observations of nature. Without making any reference to nature, there's a pretty good chance that there's no science involved.
  16. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Not at all. You simply misunderstand science.

    Au contraire, when astronomers are studying the sky, they are fully aware that they are observing nature over nearly the full span of existence since the Big Bang.

    That's well understood, though I doubt many scientists would cast it in that kind of language.

    Au contraire, observation of remote objects has a huge bearing on astronomy, cosmology and physics, and it's heavily founded in science.

    Who cares what's happening "now" at a remote object? The main fact you should connect to this is that catastrophism is dead. Therefore the expansion of the universe is continuous over all time.

    It would be more accurate to speak of the red shift in distant objects over all time - relative to "now". Yes, that red shift really happens.

    It's unclear if you really are trying to understand this or not. I doubt anyone is trying to convert sky maps into "today" maps, and there's no purpose I can think of that your stipulation would serve. Remember, science is not a process of inventing round holes to force the square pegs of nature into. It's about discovering the truths of nature by application of the scientific method.

    If your intent is to say "science can't tell me what's happening right now on distant objects, therefore the method is limited", I think you picked a bad example. Nature can't "tell you" about them any faster than the speed of light. Science is the way to collect the information nature is sending; science is not the source of that information itself. Nature is. You have to bend to nature. You can't force it to fit any preconceived ideals. If you mean "science is flawed because it can't defy nature", then you're way off track.
  17. leopold Valued Senior Member

    yes, but you can't discuss a video you haven't seen.
    anyway . . .
    when you say the "limitations of science" you are actually saying the limitations of human reasoning and logic.
    also, when you say "science" you are actually referring to the sum of mans knowledge.
    question for you:
    what is preventing mankind from walking to alpha centauri?
    technology maybe?
    because we don't know how doesn't mean it's impossible.

    on the flip side i will agree that a lot of discoveries have been made by accident.

    the only limitations of science is imagination and technology.
  18. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Why would you say that the sum of all human knowledge IS science?
    Does knowledge of something require verification via the use of the scientific method to be considered as knowledge?

    example :

    My now deceased grandmother, loved eating chocolate biscuits secretly under the stairs when she was between 10 and 11 years old.
    no evidence is available other than a secret verbally shared with a grandson. Is this knowledge or is this something else?

    Does the lack of scientific method derived verification mean that she didn't like eating chocolate biscuits under the stairs?
    if so why so?
  19. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    sorry to be pedantic but you have correctly stated what is a common mistake held by nearly all astronomers today.

    Your post should have read:
    "Yes, that red shift really DID happen.
    Past tense by some millions if not billions of years.

    • Is that red shift happening today?
    • Can you show the scientific method at work in your answer?

    You are now claiming like most that red shift associated with cosmic expansion is occurring right now and yet you have no evidence to support that as a fact.
    Big claims require big evidential they say

    I am suggesting that there is absolutely no way science can answer that question according to it's own methodology.
    which then asks : IS the issue of cosmic expansion happening today even though there is no evidence available to support such a notion?
  20. leopold Valued Senior Member

    i was afraid someone would raise the "coincidence" issue.
    in my opinion no, i wouldn't call the above either knowledge or science because it is basically irrelevant.
    i admit science is poorly equipped to deal with "coincidences".
    on the other hand i feel the "method" is the best we can do.
    i believe it's mostly due to relevance.
  21. kwhilborn Banned Banned

    The Scientific Method is great for proving things to others, and although it is common sense in my opinion it does offer conclusive proof of events.

    The problem with the Scientific method is that people also assume anything that cannot be replicated by it is automatically false.

    There are many events in science that were not repeatable at one time (Radio waves), that has now passed the Scientific method.

    Writing off potential sciences because the scientific method cannot (YET) confirm it is bad science and arrogant.

    You will see shallow viewpoints that sound like this,
    "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof".

    This is false because the only proof needed in science is that it meets the prescribed scientific method for demonstrating its validity. The science would only seem extraordinary to those not bright enough to conceive of these sciences.
  22. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    I think what you are saying is that the qualifier "extraordinary" is redundant and not part of the scientific method. Just "proof" is required . no need to qualify it any further.
  23. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    what about once off events and events that can not be predicted?

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