What is it about woo that upsets you?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by wegs, Apr 23, 2019.

  1. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

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    I really like that! ''Provisional.'' So, science never says ''yes,'' it can at best offer a strong "maybe" or an emphatic ''no?"

    I wonder if someday, maybe centuries from now even, if every scientific theory will ''fail'' a new set of experiments, and give way to a new theory?
     
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  3. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Many scientific hypotheses are little more than speculations, typically speculations formed in accordance with accepted scientific principle and consistent with what is believed to be the best data. Part of what made the advent of special relativity and quantum mechanics so 'revolutionary' is that they weren't consistent with currently accepted scientific principle.

    So that being said, what kept those 'revolutionary' hypotheses from falling off the woo-cliff? The answer might involve the way that they made sense of a bunch of observational anomalies that had accumulated in the late 19th century, and even more important, because they were testable. They enabled predictions to be made that investigators could look for observationally. (Plus, with SR at least, the mathematics was kind of elegant.)
     
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  5. Goldtop Registered Senior Member

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    I would agree, one of the worst sensationalists in that field is Michio Kaku. He gets on programs to provide "insight" into the latest scienitific discovery only to add his own sensationalism, thus confusing everyone into believing something entirely different.
     
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  7. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    I believe discrepancies in classical gravitation were already noted before Relativity came along.
     
  8. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    That is exactly the point: we cannot rule that out.

    I was lucky enough to be taught chemistry at school by a man who never told us we had got an explanation of a piece of theory "right" but always said instead "this is one model". It has stayed with me ever since and came in handy learning chemistry later at university, where we often used more than one model for the same thing, depending on what we trying to do.

    We make models that we hope approximate ever more closely whatever "reality" may be, but we can never know if we have ever got it absolutely "right".
     
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  9. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Thus the term Universal Constants is hubris? How do we know they will always be constant?
     
  10. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Equations, the same values viewed from different perspectives.
     
  11. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Why not? Do the laws of nature change? Can we even use the term "law" if that only means a "model' of behavior?
    At what point is evidence sufficient? Is it ever sufficient? Can 2 + 2 ever equal 5 ?
     
  12. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I don't disagree with that.

    But I'll add that the word "woo", in its relevant usage on internet discussion boards (as opposed to the more traditional meaning of what young lovers do), is a perjorative, an insult, a term of abuse. Proponents of "woo" never call their ideas that, it's always a word used by their opponents.

    I don't think that it has any precise definition. It's more in the eye of the beholder, I guess. That being said, I like your usage and think that I'll start using it myself.

    Oh man, I couldn't agree more.
     
  13. sweetpea Valued Senior Member

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    Remember the idea or concept of ''Universal Constants'' is a model. That model may change or become redundant in our future understanding of reality.
     
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  14. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    So the proper term should be Universal Models, not Universal Laws or Universal Constants?

    So our model of the three physical states of H2O (gas, liquid, solid) can be rendered false in the future? How, where? In an as yet undiscovered dimension?

    And then to think on what evidence theism is founded. Yet we treat religions (models of theism) as "revealed" truths?
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
  15. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    What if they don't? Will a theory forever be "provisional"?

    So far we have observed some universal mathematical models that have been constant for 14.7 billion years. Still provisional?
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
  16. sweetpea Valued Senior Member

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    Constants is fine. Change it if or when the need arises. I assume most scientists would understand that's an aspect of modelling.
    So, you really think I or anyone alive today knows what our future understanding of reality will be?
     
  17. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

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    I know, that's what I wonder, too. When does the evidence that supports an accepted theory, cease to be provisional and serve as proof? Maybe because the goal posts are always changing, as technology changes (and we can become more precise as time goes on), the issue of when becomes moot.

    Okay.

    Consider yourself lucky, as many science teachers aren't like him. :/

    Going with this, then woo could be defined as anything that has virtually no (or very little) reasonable scientific evidence to support it? Is that how you'd define it?
     
  18. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I'm inclined to say that it might be almost as hard to give an "emphatic no" as an "emphatic yes". No matter what evidence we generate that seems to contradict our hypothesis, the hypothesis still might be true if our evidence is mistaken or if we readjust some of the other assumptions that we are making in our reasoning.

    In the philosophy of science that's called the "pessimistic induction". If many/most of the 'scientific' beliefs of the past have subsequently been shown to be wrong, even ones that were supported by what was believed to be excellent confirming evidence (such as geocentric astronomy and the heavenly spheres) why shouldn't we expect that future science will reject much/most of what we currently believe?

    I'm inclined to agree with Exchemist in seeing science as a huge intellectual model (actually a bunch of interacting ones), that embody our best current understanding of how the physical universe behaves and how it's put together. It isn't the last word, it's an ever-more-accurate approximation, the best that we have at the moment.

    The way I look at it is that 'true' and 'false' rarely if ever indicate absolute apodeictic certainty. These truth-values probably should be thought of as having likelihood-weights. Beliefs that seem highly certain get high weights, perhaps 99% (a small fraction below absolute can't-be-wrong certainty). Beliefs that are more like guesses, mere shots-in-the dark, might only rate a 51% rating (a small fraction above flip-a-coin).

    Logic's 'true' and 'false' truth-values might be intellectual idealizations more than something that applies to real-life reasoning. And that in turn implies a rejection of classical logic in favor of something like many-valued fuzzy logic.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
  19. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    We don't. The constants we use work; that's why we use them. So with the models we use today, and the systems we observe, the constants are valid.

    Since we have made a great many observations of the universe, and the constants work within those observations, it is unlikely that they will ever be significantly changed for the cases we use them for (i.e. much of the observable universe.) However, it is not unlikely that someone in the future will come along and say (for example) "the gravitational constant is only valid under X Y Z conditions" - and at that point it will change outside X, Y and Z.
     
  20. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Well you qualified it with "alive today". But someday, of course. There is nothing magical or miraculous about physics. There is always an underlying universal mathematical law (constant) which governs an interactive function between universal physical values and potentials.
     
  21. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Not quite, no. There are all manner of funny ideas people have and they need to be broken down into subcategories. As I've tried to explain in a number of previous posts, to me woo is a subset of pseudoscience characterised by vagueness and the promotion of an air of mystery - the antithesis of what science tries to do.

    There are other kinds of pseudoscience, for example believers in weird and unevidenced "explanations" of cold fusion, or theories of water having a memory of dissolved molecules, used by some homeopathic believers, and so on. To me these are not - or not usually - woo, because the ideas have some precision even if they are wrong. But people who go on nebulously about "vibrations", "psychic energy" and other New Age crystals-and-shit are proponents of woo. Chopra is a leading exponent of a currently rather popular (and especially annoying) sub-strain of woo, known as "quantum woo"

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  22. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

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    Just noticed this response. So, in other words, you believe that they know right from wrong, but don't care?

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    That'd be a troll. Some of the woo posters, seem to not know. The operative word being seem.

    Well, if you look at the ''are you a dog or cat person'' thread, that has completely derailed into an entirely different topic. If we're honest, that's how threads go on forever.

    Gotcha, okay.

    I don't think that someone's belief of a higher power means that they are intellectually lazy. But, we won't go there for the sake of this OP.

    For some, they simply believe that science and religion are capable of coexisting.

    There is another active thread right now, whereby the topic discusses how with science, one still needs to take a leap of faith. The difference between that leap and spirituality, is that scientists base their leaps of faith, on factual evidence.
     
  23. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    That's sort of backwards. There is an underlying interaction between all matter and energy. We _describe_ it with mathematical tools to varying degrees of precision. But the tools are not the interaction, just as the map is not the territory. Today we think our maps are pretty good. But in ten years we may realize that the map is not 100% accurate - even if it's been working pretty well up until then, and will continue to work for most of the places we want to go.
     
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