WHY EINSTEIN WILL NEVER BE WRONG:

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by paddoboy, Dec 31, 2015.

  1. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Because that's what the word 'truth' means.

    You have repeatedly written things like:

    "That is why the concept of "truth" is problematic in theories of science - and in fact is generally avoided."

    "But we avoid like the plague terms such as "truth", because of the sense of absoluteness that they convey. "Truth" we leave to the philosophers

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    ."

    On one hand you make very reasonable and unobjectionable points that sound to me very similar to my own fallibilism, and I've heartily agreed with you about that. Then you run and jump off the intellectual cliff with your insistance that scientists should avoid the idea of truth.

    You did address the problem here:

    "It's ridiculous to suggest scientists are not interested in whether their ideas are "true", but what we mean in the context of science is not logical truth, i.e. as opposed to falsehood. We are interested in physical REALITY. I think any scientist must believe there is an objective reality that the models strive to represent. To the extent that they succeed they are in a sense "true" models, but it is not absolute truth, or logical truth, or certainty. It is partial truth, probability, likelihood, approximation."

    You seem to be using 'true' there in multiple ways. You also seem to be erecting a 'straw man' (an 'aunt Sally') by trying to interpret 'true' to mean 'certainty' or absolutism or whatever you mean by your phrase "logical truth".

    "We tend to content ourselves with saying that such and such is "consistent with experiment" (or observation), rather than making a claim to "truth" as such. That is just modesty and common sense, given how science evolves."

    Your alternative to truth there seems to be 'saving the appearances', which is why I argued that point with you. In effect you are arguing with Osiander that it doesn't matter whether physical theories are true, so long as they predict observations sufficiently well. That was also the argument that the author of the OP seemed to be making, that no matter with discoveries future science has in store, if Einstein's theories have some degree of empirical success now, they will continue to enjoy that success, hence Einstein will never be wrong. So my argument was not just with you, but also with him.

    If your remarks are interpreted modestly, as a statement of what I've called 'fallibilism', I entirely agree with you, even if I dislike how you've worded it.

    But if your words are interpreted literally, as a reaction against the idea of truth itself, (which would imply the denial of the scientific goal of knowledge as well), then I couldn't disagree with you more. What's more, I think that the vast majority of scientists would disagree as well. They typically think of their scientific beliefs as being true.

    Biologists damnably believe that biological evolution is true, that fossils are truly evidence of extinct lifeforms and that cells and DNA truly exist. Geologists believe that minerals and rocks truly exist and that petrogenic and weathering processes truly take place. 'Climate scientists' believe that global warming is true. Planetary scientists believe that they have learned some truths about Mars' surface from the Mars rovers. Astronomers think that their belief in the existence of supernovas, quasars and exoplanets is true.

    But the more honest and thoughtful of them are willing to admit that none of these beliefs are logically necessary. They are willing to give 'true' a fallibilistic spin by admitting that they may be wrong about what they believe to be true, and that there's always a residual possibility that any scientific belief might not be true at all.

    Put another way - If (X is true), then it has to accord with reality (however that works), because that's how 'true' is defined. That might sound pretty absolute.

    But that is not the same thing as saying that (X is true) is a necessary truth. Nobody is saying that X can't be false.

    Fallibilism insists that for pretty much any X, our belief that X is true might be mistaken and X might in fact be false.

    That's how I think that you should be addressing your concerns about absolutism and unfounded certainty, not by dismissing the idea of truth entirely. Truth in the sense of conformity with reality is still the goal that science shoots for, even if it can't ever be 100% certain that it's finally arrived there.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016
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  3. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Have you read any of the links I referred to earlier? Because it is not only me that shies away from the word. Are you taking issue with them too?
     
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  5. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Addendum: I thought maybe reading this (from I think the University of Georgia) might help readers understand how I and many other people with a scientific training tend to see this issue: http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/1122science3.html
     
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  7. river

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    I see, I did read this site.

    Meanwhile theories like PLASMA UNIVERSE is ignored.
     
  8. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    And why do you believe it is ignored?
    I'll tell you: It is ignored because the evidence points to gravity as the over riding, all encompassing overwhelmingly supported BB and the resultant gravity shaping what we see.
     
  9. river

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    No pad.

    The Plasma Universe is ignored because people just keep on ignoring it.

    The Sun gives off a Plasma its self. Since our Sun does imagine what the galactic core does.
     
  10. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    The Plasma Universe is ignored because people just keep on ignoring it.
    [/QUOTE] Correct. It is defunct, derided and unevidenced. [and yes I have read the book

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    The Sun is a plasma...So? The BB/Inflationary model and the GR model of gravity still are what we accept.
     
  11. river

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    Your post #67 is a sad statement of science.
     
  12. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    No it is a statement of fact according to our current knowledge.
    Your's is a statement of ignorance.
     

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