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What Science Is, And What Science Is Not.

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posted on Jan, 10 2011 @ 03:03 PM
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We live in a society where the many branches of science and scientists are frequently called upon to answer the many questions we have about the world we live in. The discipline of the sciences, both public and private, have brought us many advances and technologies we otherwise would not have today. Even in the poorest of households and countries, we can’t get through a day without touching, using, or seeing something that science has had a hand in devising for consumption and use of the masses. So much so, that we often take it for granted, and frequently have near nil idea of how or why something works.

Want the weather forecast? Turn on your TV or computer, and the meteorologist will tell you what the weather is going to be (Well, in most cases) anywhere in the world, and why it’s going to be that way.

Need to go somewhere? Jump in your car, and its combustion engine will get you there. Need to go further? A Jumbo Jet will get you almost anywhere in the world in short order.
Want to understand how that combustion or jet engine works? Get a book, or get online, and look it up.

Yes, science is almost omnipresent. Which is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. As stated above, without it, many of our modern amenities and understandings wouldn’t exist.

The Problem
The problem begins when science is taken outside the parameters of what it is, and what it does. When science is treated in our daily lives as not only omnipresent. But omniscient and omnipotent as well. When science is used to explain things it wasn’t meant to explain. When it is used to “prove” or “disprove” what it was never meant too. When scientists step outside of their boundaries and propagate theory derived from assumptions based on consensus rather than science. When media and government, who (IMHO) have perpetuated the synonymy of science and god indirectly, use scientists to perpetuate pseudo-science to the masses.

The Point
Because science has done so much for our society to make things faster, easier, better, and more understandable, We have a tendency to place unquestioning trust, and therefore, faith in science and scientists within and without their realm of expertise. We are predisposed to believe anything that comes from the “peer-reviewed” scientific community as a whole. And we are predisposed to make what we believe, our reality, whether it is or isn’t. While this is not a completely unfounded trust, it is nevertheless, trust. Or faith. If we are truthful with ourselves, a good portion of what we think we know from the scientific community, we don’t. We have their word. However credible we may think that word to be. We cannot substantiate or observe the evidence for and against. We have no way to personally experience it, however subjectively.

Personal Experience and Faith
No one has to convince you that the science behind the automobile is sound science. There are millions of cars on the road everyday. And if you so desire, you can obtain schematics and books of the combustion engine, and along with some tools, you can convince yourself that what you have is indeed a combustion engine, and it functions within the parameters it was designed for.

Anyone can view pictures from a textbook or the internet of any or all of the planets they choose. And if you choose, you can buy or borrow a telescope and verify those bodies are there, and indeed, look at least similar to the pictures you’ve seen. Want to go further? You can learn how to plot their course, and where they have been and will be on a given date.

Obviously we can also, subjectively at least, assess the validity of some scientific claims by what we observe to verify that claim, even though we may not be able to experimentally test it or tear it apart.
I’m not by any means a meteorologist. Nor do I have the inclination to become one. However, I can say with some certainty that meteorology is a sound science by observing the accuracy of their claims on a daily basis. It may need perfecting, but it has a solid foundation.

Personal Experience
The above examples are personal experience. In short, the ability to personally verify the claims of modern science. I can say with subjective certainty that at least some of those planets exist, and are where the scientific community says they are, because I have seen them for myself. Unless of course, they’re holograms.

Faith
From my perspective, anything outside of personal experience ventures into the realm of faith. If it cannot be personally experienced or observed to be valid, it becomes faith.

Evolution is considered by many to be a valid and “proven” theory. However, out of that many, a mere handful can say they have personally performed and seen the results of lab tests and experiments that indicate a pattern, and therefore, a linear progression of change through natural selection to what we are today. There have been many books, studies, papers, documentaries, and speeches given to publicly disseminate information, and give learned and professional witness that evolution is a sound science and foundation to work from. The question posed here is not whether evolution is fact or fiction. Because it is irrelevant to this thread. The question posed is, can evolution be subjectively observed by and personally experienced, to have validity to the common man or woman outside of a laboratory or a book? Or, is evolution to be believed by the masses in publication only?

The same could be said for many of the arguments surrounding 9/11. How much of what we know about that day is based on obversation, personal experience, and verifiable evidence? And how many of us would know what we are observing or verifying. Do we know what questions to ask? Or, does it really come down to arguments based on opposing documentation and commentary that cannot conclusively be evidenced either way by us, the masses. Here again, whether 9/11 was “an inside job”, or “terrorists”, is irrelevant to this thread.

Please go to the following links, they are short, and worth the read.

What Science Is

What Science Is Not

Final Thoughts
If we are to lend credence and credibility to the modern scientific disciplines, and to the scientists in those disciplines. Then we must understand for ourselves “what science is, and what science is not”.
We must understand its limitations and boundaries. We must learn to critique what is disseminated to the public by obversation and experience when and where possible, and by sciences own rules of conduct. Whether or not the aforementioned conditions are present. If we do not use our critical faculties, And if we are not watchful of the information that comes down to us, no matter how credible, then science and consensus become indistinguishable. And we have nothing more than a religious adherence based on faith in the previously mentioned omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent disciplines of science, and its scientists become no more than ministers.

While I have no problem with personal theory and belief (Since I have plenty of both) gleaned from our understanding of the world around us. Including books, peer-reviewed papers, studies, documentaries, personal observation and experimentation, etc. Said personal held beliefs and theories need to have a little “Cartesian Doubt” applied now and then.

This is not an indictment of modern science or scientists. It is a call to watchfulness and due diligence. We must use the same critical faculties with those in the scientific community, as we use with those in Washington, DC, and here at ATS.








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posted on Jan, 10 2011 @ 04:27 PM
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I found this quote, after the fact, by Michael Crichton about "consensus science", and I felt it was relevant to the OP. Eloquently said.



"I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had. "Let's be clear: The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. "There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period. . . . "I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way. ."

Is there a consensus in science?
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posted on Jan, 10 2011 @ 07:17 PM
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Originally posted by Klassified
Please go to the following links, they are short, and worth the read.

What Science Is
I agree with the gist of your post that science isn't an ultimate truth, it's only today's best guess at it which is falsifiable if we discover new evidence tomorrow. The biggest upset in the science apple cart that comes to mine for me was in 1998 when almost all scientists thought the expansion of the universe was probably slowing down due to gravity, when new data showed the expansion of the universe was not slowing down, but rather speeding up. So all the old assumptions were falsified. It happens over and over again in science.

However your source have some problems with some of the claims, that are at best misleasing. Look at your source for what science is:


2. Humans can accurately perceive and understand the physical universe. In other words, such understanding is possible.
I'd say this is false, humans cannot perceive many aspects of the universe, without adopting the use of special tools which have capabilities humans don't. And even with these special tools, I don't agree that we understand the quantum world, though we can make a model of it and make very accurate predictions with the model, and make accurate measurements within the limits of things like the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. In fact, the number of unsolved problems in physics, cosmology etc shows there's a lot we don't understand.

And in case you would suggest I'm arguing semantics, the claim gets even more specifically questionable here:


Modern science has its limitations: 1. Observations are confined to the biological limits of our senses, even with technological enhancement.
Many of the observations science makes today are COMPLETELY beyond the biological limits of our senses. The Hubble space telescope is at least in visible light, but other telescopes are making observations in wavelengths we can't possibly perceive with our biological senses like infrared and X-ray.

A more accurate statement would be that "observations ARE NOT confined to the biological limits of our senses. Observations can be made in, for example, X-ray wavelengths, but since they are beyond our biological limits, those observations must be translated into some format within our biological limits for us to utilize them".

It really gives one a totally different perspective to rephrase it in that manner.

And interestingly, you make a similar claim about personal experience. What exactly is personal experience? When I performed this experiment in my high school physics lab with a miniature subatomic particle accelerator to measure the charge to mass ratio of electrons, was this something I personally experienced?

Electron Charge to Mass Ratio (e/m)

I can't actually see electrons with my naked eye, only evidence that they exist and have certain, measurable properties. So I personally ran the particle accelerator, controlled the variables and measured the electron mass all without ever seeing the electron. Did I personally experience the charge to mass ratio of the electron?

What I'm saying is we've built tools, sensors, and measuring equipment that go far beyond the biological limits of our senses, and some would claim that things like the subatomic world go beyond personal experience, even when I ran the particle accelerator myself.

We evolved to perceive the macro world around us and nothing in our evolution prepared us to personally experience or even understand what happens on a quantum or subatomic scale. But using instruments that have capabilities our biological senses don't, we can conclude things about the subatomic world, things that make it seem totally bizarre and counterintuitive.

So in summary, while I agree overall with your premise that science is only today's version of our understanding, and it can change tomorrow. But I also had to pick on some of the specific claims, especially in your source, which seem at best, very misleading. And I'm not sure what you mean by personal experience in the context of my particle accelerator experiment. Have I personally experienced electrons?

Actually the time I grabbed a metal railing that was accidentally energized to 220V I was pretty convinced I personally experienced something, though I was just a child and didn't know much about electrons yet.



posted on Jan, 10 2011 @ 07:26 PM
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I think that we should note the difference between a scientific law, theory, and hypothesis.

A hypothesis is what people really confuse for a theory. Hypothesis can be suggested by anyone. This means you, me, and even scientists. An example of a hypothesis is " I think this happens.... because of this....".

A scientific theory is, basically, what a hypothesis becomes after it has gone under peer review. This just means that other scientists, or some other individuals, actually try and disprove said hypothesis. If they cannot disprove them then they are regarded as theories.

A scientific law is literally unbreakable.There is nothing we can do, as of now, that can break the known laws of the universe. Some famous examples of these are the laws of thermodynamics.

Hope that helps.

S+F OP excellent thread!



posted on Jan, 10 2011 @ 07:33 PM
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reply to post by Arbitrageur
 

LMAO!


An excellent addition to this topic and thread! S&
And although I picked up the same problems you did, This seems to be what they're teaching, and it was also the best short summary of is and is not I could find for this thread. If it's too long and involved, folks just aren't going to read it.

On personal experience, I think you understand it quite well. You may not be able to see it with your eyes, but you ran the experiment, and observed the results. So within your understanding of what you were trying to prove or disprove, the experiment was successful. That's all I'm talking about. A hands on approach and observation where we can. And a very critical approach to things we don't have the ability to test or verify for ourselves.
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posted on Jan, 10 2011 @ 08:26 PM
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I think there is a lot of underlaying misunderstanding of what scientist is and does. A scientist by definition is nothing more or less than a practitioner of the Scientific Method. This can be anyone at anytime or any place. I won't bother with the specifics because a simple internet search will give you a good definition of exactly what this is. I've been around many scientists, engineers, social scientists, and all the good ones have one thing in common. They know nothing for sure (some will even include the laws) what they know they will rather say "The evidence suggests".

All the "We know!"s come from
A: Media trying to sell headlines
B: Scientists looking for grant money to see if they really know
C: Someone pushing an agenda.
D:The ignorant and uneducated
E: Those who are not properly applying the scientific method.

I guess my main point is that science is a tool just like any other, and while it may be learning tool that is equivalent to duct tape (can be used for anything) it is a lot like duct tape, it can do just as much bad as good and it's really easy to wind up taping yourself to a wall...



posted on Jan, 10 2011 @ 09:34 PM
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Good thread - I learned the hard way take what the weather man says with a grain of salt. Its late, will be back tomorrow to read and add to the thread.



posted on Jan, 10 2011 @ 09:52 PM
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Good to see at least some people have a grasp of this concept

The post i made about it certainly wouldnt lead one to that conclusion, but the parameters were different, as it were


It has been an interesting shift from "observing 'reality'" to "defining 'reality'." One i am personally not entirely comfortable with, but hey, c'est la vie.



posted on Jan, 10 2011 @ 10:27 PM
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Originally posted by binomialtheorem
I think that we should note the difference between a scientific law, theory, and hypothesis.
Good points.

I'm not sure about laws though.


Originally posted by binomialtheorem
A scientific law is literally unbreakable.There is nothing we can do, as of now, that can break the known laws of the universe.
I'm not sure that's true, recall that Newton's law of universal gravitation was eventually broken by more accurate observations even before Einstein published his general relativity paper, as suggested here:
en.wikipedia.org...

and the law of gravitation was rewritten by Einstein's paper.

On a more esoteric note, even the laws of thermodynamics you mention can be broken, on short time scales. See G.M. Wang, E.M. Sevick, E. Mittag, D.J. Searles & Denis J. Evans (2002), Experimental demonstration of violations of the Second Law of Thermodynamics for small systems and short time scales, Physical Review Letters 89: 050601/1–050601/4. doi:10.1103 which is mentioned here:

Non-equilibrium states


Statistically it is possible for a system to achieve moments of non-equilibrium. In such statistically unlikely events where hot particles "steal" the energy of cold particles enough that the cold side gets colder and the hot side gets hotter, for an instant. Such events have been observed at a small enough scale where the likelihood of such a thing happening is significant.

Your post reminded me of this interesting Wiki entry called:

Evolution as theory and fact

It's called a fact because the evidence that some type of evolution took place raises the probability to the level of certainty or as close to that as science gets. But the detailed mechanism by which that evolution occurred are not well understood and are only theories.

And even though they call evolution a fact, it's still falsifiable. If they were to find a genuine human footprint alongside a T-Rex footprint, that would definitely upset the current assumptions.
edit on 10-1-2011 by Arbitrageur because: fix typo



posted on Jan, 10 2011 @ 10:52 PM
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If they were to find a genuine human footprint alongside a T-Rex footprint, that would definitely upset the current assumptions.

But would we ever know about it if they did? This is what bothers me about "scientific consensus". While I think many would be fine with the upset. There are those who would not be. And could potentially shut it down for the "greater good". And for all we know, already have.

I have been very hard on the scientific community in the past, but recently I've tried to step back and listen to my own advice. And examine my own belief system. Nevertheless, I still scrutinize everything that comes down to the masses. As best I can anyway.



posted on Jan, 10 2011 @ 11:19 PM
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reply to post by Klassified
 


If one were to do such a thing, they could assert phenomenal control on the general consensus perspective. Certainly not out of the realm of possibility, in my opinion. to clarify: i think the psychological profile of jumping from "searching" to "found" denies the very nature of science, which is to find the truth at any cost. The repercussions of such an attitude are, in my opinion, quite far reaching.

Id say such a thing is going on right under our noses, with the illusionary and mystical nature that scientific products (like a common iPad) are marketed with and the interesting, addictive nature of sites like facebook. Its a dangerous road, as the disconnect between the inner workings of our every day devices becomes further and further removed from the general populations perspective. That is going more into the idea of the products of science, but in my mind, that capitalism is the driving force behind its progress, and can be seen in the technologies that are moderated in the general market.
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posted on Jan, 10 2011 @ 11:40 PM
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Originally posted by Klassified


If they were to find a genuine human footprint alongside a T-Rex footprint, that would definitely upset the current assumptions.
But would we ever know about it if they did? This is what bothers me about "scientific consensus". While I think many would be fine with the upset. There are those who would not be. And could potentially shut it down for the "greater good". And for all we know, already have.
How can you hide anything with the internet around?

Sites would spring up everywhere pointing out how wrong mainstream science is (since apparently mainstream science has plenty of enemies, not the least of which includes "creation scientists" though I'm not sure a creation scientist can be called a scientist):

The Paluxy River ‘human’ footprints


Since the 1930s, dinosaur tracks have been known from the bed of the Paluxy River, near Glen Rose, Texas. What makes these tracks so controversial are claims that as well as the footprints of dinosaurs, there are unmistakably human footprints, too...
Sites like this one would spread the word:

www.angelfire.com...


Some people believe that the Paluxy tracks were made during the flood as man and dinosaurs fled to higher ground.

I will say it again.. I DO believe that man and dinosaurs lived together.

edit on 10-1-2011 by Arbitrageur because: added photo/caption



posted on Jan, 10 2011 @ 11:43 PM
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reply to post by Arbitrageur
 


The tricky part comes in when asked to replicate data affirming (or denouncing) certain experiments. Resources required to do this would be... extensive to say the least and limited to a select few given their scale on many fronts (political, geological, financial).

It also comes to mind that the purpose of doing such a thing would not necessarily be concerned with the fringe, since "established" sources are generally considered to be the sole purveyors of truth for the general population.
edit on 10-1-2011 by sinohptik because: guinea pigs with lasers made me do it!



posted on Jan, 10 2011 @ 11:59 PM
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Originally posted by sinohptik
The tricky part comes in when asked to replicate data affirming (or denouncing) certain experiments.
Yes, replication is a very important element of science, that I'm not sure we've emphasized enough in this thread yet, but it's an excellent point.

With experiments, replication can be done at will, but it's harder to do with observations of the natural world, such as when a single, unique fossil is found. It's possible another fossil of the same creature will never be found.



posted on Jan, 11 2011 @ 12:05 AM
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reply to post by Arbitrageur
 


and if we go into something like the Large Hadron Collider, it becomes very difficult (to say the least) to replicate the experiment itself, much less the data.

had to balance that archaeology with some particle physics
i think this is a really large topic, honestly.

I think the "danger" (if it can be called that) is learning just enough about a topic to think one has discovered enough to say "It has been thoroughly explored, we know." Instead of realizing the fact that to even have learned such things, we needed to accept that we didnt know them in the first place. Once that jump is made that "what we have discovered is all that is to learn about X," i feel it is disingenuous to science as we have such limited faculties in which to explore the data in the first place. I strongly feel because of this limited perception, which can be pseudo-expanded with "translation" equipment, a scientist must always take an uncertain stance on anything they discover, even if it seems consistent over thousands of years of observation. It is simply what we have observed to be true, but is not truth itself.
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posted on Jan, 11 2011 @ 12:56 AM
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science is purely man man made and it doesn't interact with nature. It can only destroy nature.
science is a small part of the wide spectrum of human thinking.
science divides whatever it is applied to
science is best suited for application in the real world, less suited for body and least suited for the mind.



posted on Jan, 11 2011 @ 10:15 AM
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Originally posted by johnwordswu
science is purely man man made and it doesn't interact with nature. It can only destroy nature.
science is a small part of the wide spectrum of human thinking.
science divides whatever it is applied to
science is best suited for application in the real world, less suited for body and least suited for the mind.


Ok. Yes. Science and the rules it applies are manmade. But as to destroying nature. That's not science, that's the variable portion of science known as man. Science itself, is a tool, it can be used to destroy.

Agreed. But it is sciences job to understand the portion it inhabits as objectively as possible, and make reasonable and logical assumptions based on what it learns, or observes to be true.

Interesting thought. If you are speaking of the division in the schools of scientific thought on sundry topics, then yes, there is a consistent division. But I think often it is just a matter of hypothetical differences between viewpoints based on the results of given data, and expounded upon. Unless you are speaking of a dialectical division, in which case, I agree wholly, up to a point.

In essence, that is what science is supposed to study. The real or natural world. It is corporate science that has made a mockery of the scientific fields here. Medicines and technology without any regard for real or potential hazard. And passed through the FDA by lobbying, and on to the public. However, corporate science is also responsible for as much benefit as it is death. I suppose that could be debated, but I'm speaking in the broader sense.
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posted on Jan, 11 2011 @ 10:33 AM
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Originally posted by sinohptik
reply to post by Arbitrageur
 


The tricky part comes in when asked to replicate data affirming (or denouncing) certain experiments. Resources required to do this would be... extensive to say the least and limited to a select few given their scale on many fronts (political, geological, financial).

It also comes to mind that the purpose of doing such a thing would not necessarily be concerned with the fringe, since "established" sources are generally considered to be the sole purveyors of truth for the general population.
edit on 10-1-2011 by sinohptik because: guinea pigs with lasers made me do it!


Both very good and valid points. "sole purveyors of truth". As has been said earlier, truth is not sciences realm. But many would like it to be.

"a select few". This was where I was going with this thread. At least in part. We, the masses rely on the obversations and conclusions of the few. It is near an impossibility for us to experience first hand experimental results. Let alone replicate them. We have only our ability to read, observe, experience where we can, and discernment of what is disseminated to us from the few. Which leaves us with a measure of faith whether we like it or not.
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posted on Jan, 11 2011 @ 02:42 PM
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I agree with you, but in my research on the topic, I've found enough in the way of the fossil record and genetic studies to make me believe that it is possible, even probable, and the best explanation that we currently have from a scientific standpoint.



posted on Jan, 12 2011 @ 03:46 AM
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reply to post by Klassified
 


Klassified, you put forth a solid argument. I can't help but agree with you wholeheartedly! Great to see an obviously intelligent person with a healthy dose of scepticism for modern science.

Arbitrageur, you put forth a solid argument, I can't help but agree with you wholeheartedly! Damnit, I hate when this happens........

Actually, I love it. I seem to be sifting through more and more sediment to find gems on this site. Familiar story I know. No massive reply, star and flag count required, just a little difference of opinion without the exclusion of intelligence, manners and a little respect.
edit on 12-1-2011 by OZtracized because: (no reason given)



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