Scientific Quandary- or Logical Devil's Advocate

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Shiggily
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05 Jan 2009, 4:01 am

ruveyn wrote:
Shiggily wrote:

"No human investigation can be called real science if it can not be demonstrated mathematically."
"Whoever despises the high wisdom of mathematics nourishes himself on delusion and will never still the sophistic sciences whose only product is an eternal uproar."
Da Vinci


Our most successful science physics (and its variants) is not derivable a priori from axiomatic principles. It is gotten by way of induction and abduction (see C. S. Peirce for more on that). Science grows out of experiences and is empirically based. Mathematics is a tool of physics, not its basis.

Da Vinci lived during a time when Aristotelian and Platonic philosophy were dominant, which is why he held to the principle you stated.

ruveyn


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Shiggily
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05 Jan 2009, 4:03 am

pandd wrote:
Shiggily wrote:
I fail to see at any point in the thread I stated that evolution is in any way unproven.

You actually stated that evolution was not even viable.
Quote:
Though parts of it are unproveable.

Which parts of the biological theory of evolution are unprovable?
Quote:
I did state that it was not a fact.

You stated that you argue with the concept that it is a fact. Yet you've failed to actually substantiate any argument with evolution as a fact, instead relying on criticism of the provability of hypotheses that in some part might be considered derivative of or compatible with evolution, as though that proves anything about the theory of evolution at all.
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I did state that naturally occurring abiogenesis is unproveable. I provided at least a few examples of scientists including it in evolutionary theory. I even included several modified examples of evolutionary theory.

In science a theory is very different from a hypothesis. A theory is a simple stable set of premises. The theory of evolution is not much changed since Darwin and Wallace jointly presented their paper, however hypotheses and knowledge about and related to the theory have greatly changed and expanded.

You have not included modified theories of evolution, you have included hypotheses about the theory of evolution. Differentiating between a scientific theory and hypotheses about said theory is a basic and necessary competency to sensible discussion about scientific theories. Obviously if you mistakenly think every related hypothesis is the theory, you cannot participate meaningfully in a discussion about that theory.
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Things that you can test and repeat, that I can see as mostly proven. Things that you infer, or extrapolate, those things are not really "proveable" in the sense that you can call it fact.

I disagree. You either need to prove things can be tested and repeated without relying on deduction in the process, or accept that all tests will rely on inference and extrapolation because that's what deduction consists of.
At any rate, nothing can be proven without first inducing axioms from which to deduce. This means that nothing can be proven without induction.
Quote:
Limiting the definition of evolution to Darwin's theory of evolution, in the way you want to.

I am not limiting anything. You used particular language and I strongly suspect the problem is you do not understand what you are saying (however well you might understand what you mean to say). The theory of evolution has a conventional meaning in that it refers (unless otherwise specified) to the scientific theory of evolution. If you understand that this in turn means that the theory of evolution is a scientific theory, and you comprehend what is meant in science by a scientific theory, then you do not go about referring to hypotheses that invoke, refer to, include, derive from or rely on an actual scientific theory as being that theory, you refer to them as hypotheses that invoke, refer to, include, derive from or rely on the actual theory. Especially if the context includes much complaining on your part about the vagary of language used in some subject field or another.
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I could see microevolution as mostly proven and macroevolution as unproveable.

I would disagree. Either proven is a theoretical ideal that can never occur in practice (in which case stating it cannot be achieved in some particular area or is nearly achieved elsewhere is redundant and without actual meaning), or micro evolution is proven to the extent that anything can be proven. I see no reason why macro evolution is unprovable.
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In that I don't mind if you believe it. Just don't assume it is fact. I believe that it is certainly possible. But I don't adhere to it as if it was proven. Because inference and extrapolation are touchy, once you venture into that territory and away from repetitive testing it becomes harder to justify your conclusions. Particularly if you want to claim those conclusions as fact.

All testing requires that one rely on inference and extrapolation.
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"No human investigation can be called real science if it can not be demonstrated mathematically."

Er, how exactly did you imagine micro-evolution was demonstrated? Using tea leaves or palmistry?
Quote:
"Whoever despises the high wisdom of mathematics nourishes himself on delusion and will never still the sophistic sciences whose only product is an eternal uproar."
Da Vinci

Mathematics is certainly a useful set of axioms, inferences and possible extrapolations.


1. don't respond with microevolution if I have already stated I don't mind it and that it is testable.

2. Don't respond with testing when I state I have a problem with relying almost entirely on extrapolation and inference. Yes, everything requires some testing and some inference... its when your assumptions begin to be based primarily on extrapolation and inference and not very much testing (if any at all) that I say you must tread carefully. The farther you get away from actually testing your assumptions the less reliable your assumptions become.

3. find me the quote where I stated evolution is not viable.

4. when I write something... take just a tiny bit of time to read it before you respond. Then when you see I answer quite a few of your questions in the same post you are quoting it seems rather silly.

5. Stop redefining things to mean what you want, if that's what you are going to complain about with other people. If I provide posts or links that discuss the modification of evolutionary theory... don't skip over it and come back claiming evolutionary theory is unmodified.

6. In order for something to be a theory it must be falsifiable. Macroevolution rests almost entirely on extrapolation from microevolution and is not really falsifiable. So sorry I am iffy on the theory of evolution actually being a scientific theory. Unless you redefine scientific theory to mean what you want it to mean and then come back and argue it. Or you could go with a secondary or tertiary definition such as " a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation".

7. Math doesn't infer and extrapolate even a tenth as far as Biologists do. And most mathematical definitions are applied differently than science. Example (mathematics) calculation of the value of a function outside the range of known values
(science-based) an inference about the future (or about some hypothetical situation) based on known facts and observations.


you don't even bother looking at anything I provide... why do I bother talking in circles until you find your way? I preferred it when Gromit answered for you... at least he made sense and didn't twist things around.



pandd
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05 Jan 2009, 6:42 am

Shiggily, very well, you've never claimed evolution was unproven, not fact, or anything like it. You never mistakenly defined evolution as referring to the origins or life, or if you did, all those silly biologists who think it refers to the origin of species are wrong (and also very dishonest). The theory of evolution changes every time someone publishes any paper about it or which refers to it. Mathematics is not entirely extrapolation based on non-provable inferred axioms. Biology is a cesspool of dishonesty, and you yourself would never be dishonest in any academic discussion (for instance by trying to pretend you were not mistaken about the what is and is not included in the theory of evolution).

Also it is highly unusual for academics to be honest (or at least those teaching biology), starvingartist, myself, and....well just about everyone else I know must just be lucky and your isolated anecdotal claims of constant dishonesty of educators involved in teaching biology and/or evolution to you is more typical of what everyone should expect (yet oddly fails to encounter). :roll:



Shiggily
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05 Jan 2009, 9:00 am

pandd wrote:
Shiggily, very well, you've never claimed evolution was unproven, not fact, or anything like it. You never mistakenly defined evolution as referring to the origins or life, or if you did, all those silly biologists who think it refers to the origin of species are wrong (and also very dishonest). The theory of evolution changes every time someone publishes any paper about it or which refers to it. Mathematics is not entirely extrapolation based on non-provable inferred axioms. Biology is a cesspool of dishonesty, and you yourself would never be dishonest in any academic discussion (for instance by trying to pretend you were not mistaken about the what is and is not included in the theory of evolution).

Also it is highly unusual for academics to be honest (or at least those teaching biology), starvingartist, myself, and....well just about everyone else I know must just be lucky and your isolated anecdotal claims of constant dishonesty of educators involved in teaching biology and/or evolution to you is more typical of what everyone should expect (yet oddly fails to encounter). :roll:


useless. go. I will get what I want from someone who can do more than argue uselessly or bend over and sarcastically give up.

I get it. you are an atheist evolutionist who thinks everyone who questions you is a secret closet creationist out to destroy your precious little world and ruin science and threaten everything you hold dear. And the creationists think I am a crazy left wing pro-evolutionist who will burn in hell for questioning their ideals.

And both sides jump down your throat every time to ask for proof or point out inaccuracies or question concepts or definitions... because heaven forbid anyone would ever question something held so dogmatically.

because there is no way on Earth that anyone could actually be curious or search for the truth or request a little honesty.

Fine. I will email people who 1. disagree with me and 2. Can actually discuss things calmly and unemotionally and ... un-dogmatically. Because apparently starting a thread asking questions and expecting decent answers is a poor strategy.



starvingartist
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05 Jan 2009, 12:45 pm

Shiggily wrote:
starvingartist wrote:
Shiggily wrote:
starvingartist wrote:
Shiggily wrote:
Orwell wrote:
Shiggily wrote:
adaptation might occur, that does not imply evolution is fact. Speciation might occur, that does not prove evolution as fact. If other people make them so frustrated that they hide evidence, falsify studies, lie about misconceptions, and publish books with errors in them... maybe they need new jobs.

Any hiding of evidence or falsification of studies goes way over the line. I thought you were referring merely to the tendency of biologists to shout down anyone who questioned the theory rather than spend time answering questions.

How are you defining evolution? Adaptation is typically regarded as microevolution and speciation as macroevolution, so I'm not sure what you're still looking for. No, evolution does not have good, solid answers to every single question you might care you ask. It probably never will. It's a complicated subject that's hard to fully understand, and there will always be a degree of uncertainty.


At a basic level, biologists are very threatened by people who question things and challenge ideas. There are some other areas that are as well. I generally define evolution as the idea that spontaneous generation can happen randomly. Whereas creation is the belief that spontaneous generation cannot happen randomly.

Everything else can be mixed and matched to make numerous different theories.


what would you say to someone who told you they believed in creation and evolution at the same time?


evolution as defined by life spontaneously arising from nonlife does not co-mingle with the belief that life was created and cannot spontaneously arise.

You can believe life is created, and aspects of the larger encompassing theory of evolution, but you cannot hold both beliefs on the generation of life.


what if my definition of spontaneous differs from yours? i personally don't believe that anything happens with true spontaneity. i believe there are levels of organisation to the universe that we cannot see or comprehend that preclude the possibility of anything happening completely "spontaneously" or without purpose/randomly. the random is a factor, don't get me wrong....but it is only half of the equation. random exists simply to balance the equation of organisation. random serves the overall purpose. so when something happens "randomly", it is simply the system making course corrections, if you will. that's how i see it, anyway.


spontaneous is happening or arising without external causes, usually in spurts and not at predictable time intervals.


i know what the dictionary definition of spontaneous is, please don't patronise me. i did say i believe we have different definitions of spontaneous. was that not the first sentence in my post? so what was the point of your answer?



starvingartist
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05 Jan 2009, 12:47 pm

Shiggily wrote:
starvingartist wrote:
Shiggily wrote:
Gromit wrote:
Depends on how narrowly or broadly you define evolution.
That is true. I mostly included evolution as they would believe in a naturally occurring abiogenesis, where creationists would believe in a supernaturally occurring abiogenesis. It is really the only thing that separates evolutionists and creationists. Many creationists are intelligent design adherents or theological evolutionists (who believe that God created life and evolution acted on it). So all I am really looking at is the one thing that does not blend together to form a myriad of theories in between.


Quote:
Most likely "Not sure yet, this is still being investigated, ask again in 20 years when we may be able to tell you possible origins, but if there is more than one viable path, it may never be possible to be definite."
I think I have had only 2 professors that honest.


what school did you go to that your professors were this shamelessly biased and dishonest (perhaps by omission) about what can be proven and what is still arguable or unknown?

my professors would always tread carefully when it came to any such subjects that still involved conjecture, and presented the material to us as such....still guesswork as of yet. this was treated as a matter of academic ethics. shouldn't it be?


two in Missouri and one in Cali[/quote]

maybe shameless academic bias is an american anomaly, then.



starvingartist
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05 Jan 2009, 12:50 pm

Shiggily wrote:
starvingartist wrote:
Shiggily wrote:
starvingartist wrote:
Shiggily wrote:
Orwell wrote:
Shiggily wrote:
adaptation might occur, that does not imply evolution is fact. Speciation might occur, that does not prove evolution as fact. If other people make them so frustrated that they hide evidence, falsify studies, lie about misconceptions, and publish books with errors in them... maybe they need new jobs.

Any hiding of evidence or falsification of studies goes way over the line. I thought you were referring merely to the tendency of biologists to shout down anyone who questioned the theory rather than spend time answering questions.

How are you defining evolution? Adaptation is typically regarded as microevolution and speciation as macroevolution, so I'm not sure what you're still looking for. No, evolution does not have good, solid answers to every single question you might care you ask. It probably never will. It's a complicated subject that's hard to fully understand, and there will always be a degree of uncertainty.


At a basic level, biologists are very threatened by people who question things and challenge ideas. There are some other areas that are as well. I generally define evolution as the idea that spontaneous generation can happen randomly. Whereas creation is the belief that spontaneous generation cannot happen randomly.

Everything else can be mixed and matched to make numerous different theories.


what would you say to someone who told you they believed in creation and evolution at the same time?


evolution as defined by life spontaneously arising from nonlife does not co-mingle with the belief that life was created and cannot spontaneously arise.

You can believe life is created, and aspects of the larger encompassing theory of evolution, but you cannot hold both beliefs on the generation of life.


what if my definition of spontaneous differs from yours? i personally don't believe that anything happens with true spontaneity. i believe there are levels of organisation to the universe that we cannot see or comprehend that preclude the possibility of anything happening completely "spontaneously" or without purpose/randomly. the random is a factor, don't get me wrong....but it is only half of the equation. random exists simply to balance the equation of organisation. random serves the overall purpose. so when something happens "randomly", it is simply the system making course corrections, if you will. that's how i see it, anyway.


spontaneous is happening or arising without external causes, usually in spurts and not at predictable time intervals.


can't something happen 'without external causes' and still serve a higher purpose of balancing out the incredibly complex system which is the universe? all you did was state a definition; you didn't actually comment on my point. you seem to do this a lot. feels like sidestepping, to me.



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05 Jan 2009, 12:58 pm

Shiggily wrote:
pandd wrote:
You really should look into acquainting yourself with a better learning institution. I have never heard any educator claim to know where life on earth came from and how it started. No educator has ever told me that abiogenesis and evolution are the same theory, on the contrary it was educators who explained the independence of each from the other to me.
I have to ask, does your educational institution give out jobs to anyone who cuts a degree off the back of a cereal packet?


A degree does not indicate honesty. And I have been to 6 different universities. And instead of finding a better learning institution I merely moved to a better, more rigorous subject area.



so now you are making qualifying judgments that math is somehow, what, more valid, more 'true' than biology? just curious as to what you mean by 'better' and 'more rigorous'. i have a feeling biologists may be slightly miffed by that comment.



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05 Jan 2009, 1:08 pm

Shiggily wrote:
ruveyn wrote:
Shiggily wrote:

"No human investigation can be called real science if it can not be demonstrated mathematically."
"Whoever despises the high wisdom of mathematics nourishes himself on delusion and will never still the sophistic sciences whose only product is an eternal uproar."
Da Vinci


Our most successful science physics (and its variants) is not derivable a priori from axiomatic principles. It is gotten by way of induction and abduction (see C. S. Peirce for more on that). Science grows out of experiences and is empirically based. Mathematics is a tool of physics, not its basis.

Da Vinci lived during a time when Aristotelian and Platonic philosophy were dominant, which is why he held to the principle you stated.

ruveyn


bwahahahahahahahhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa


alright then, here's a question for you......which is more relevant as a basis for physics, mathematics or the human imagination, the ability to abstract and induce? if you ask me, the latter is more important because it is where we begin to understand the universe around us. math is simply the language we translate that understanding into.



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05 Jan 2009, 1:17 pm

Shiggily wrote:
pandd wrote:
Shiggily, very well, you've never claimed evolution was unproven, not fact, or anything like it. You never mistakenly defined evolution as referring to the origins or life, or if you did, all those silly biologists who think it refers to the origin of species are wrong (and also very dishonest). The theory of evolution changes every time someone publishes any paper about it or which refers to it. Mathematics is not entirely extrapolation based on non-provable inferred axioms. Biology is a cesspool of dishonesty, and you yourself would never be dishonest in any academic discussion (for instance by trying to pretend you were not mistaken about the what is and is not included in the theory of evolution).

Also it is highly unusual for academics to be honest (or at least those teaching biology), starvingartist, myself, and....well just about everyone else I know must just be lucky and your isolated anecdotal claims of constant dishonesty of educators involved in teaching biology and/or evolution to you is more typical of what everyone should expect (yet oddly fails to encounter). :roll:


useless. go. I will get what I want from someone who can do more than argue uselessly or bend over and sarcastically give up.

I get it. you are an atheist evolutionist who thinks everyone who questions you is a secret closet creationist out to destroy your precious little world and ruin science and threaten everything you hold dear. And the creationists think I am a crazy left wing pro-evolutionist who will burn in hell for questioning their ideals.

And both sides jump down your throat every time to ask for proof or point out inaccuracies or question concepts or definitions... because heaven forbid anyone would ever question something held so dogmatically.

because there is no way on Earth that anyone could actually be curious or search for the truth or request a little honesty.

Fine. I will email people who 1. disagree with me and 2. Can actually discuss things calmly and unemotionally and ... un-dogmatically. Because apparently starting a thread asking questions and expecting decent answers is a poor strategy.


so all of us who have responded to the original question in the original post have jumped down your throat and failed to provide you with any "truth" or "a little honesty"? well at least now you know in advance that you will not find the sort of discourse you are looking for in this forum, for it seems that none of us can figure out exactly what kind of discourse you are looking for, and therefore cannot provide. we tried rational and intelligent. i guess that's not enough.



starvingartist
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05 Jan 2009, 1:21 pm

just one more thing......


"Dialogue cannot exist without humility."
~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed



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05 Jan 2009, 4:41 pm

starvingartist wrote:
so now you are making qualifying judgments that math is somehow, what, more valid, more 'true' than biology? just curious as to what you mean by 'better' and 'more rigorous'. i have a feeling biologists may be slightly miffed by that comment.

Math being "better" is subjective. However, math is the gold standard for rigor. The issue of truth is prickly, but in terms of its conclusions properly done math is 100% "correct". This kind of certainty is a priori unattainable in the sciences. Likewise however is that physics too has much more stringent requirements in terms of precision etc; biology is not without reason considered among the softer of the hard sciences.
Quote:
alright then, here's a question for you......which is more relevant as a basis for physics, mathematics or the human imagination, the ability to abstract and induce? if you ask me, the latter is more important because it is where we begin to understand the universe around us. math is simply the language we translate that understanding into.

I disagree. Math and physics have a very close relationship, and in fact people seem to spend a considerable amount of time trying to make intuitive sense of the math behind the physics (usually with lackluster results). Quantum mechanics is a good example of a theory that people have in decades past spent some time saying that no one really understands what's going on, but the math works just the same. That math is somehow different from "human imagination" I likewise disagree with; my understanding of things is fundamentally mathematical; nothing is really understood unless it has a mathematical formulation. People knew for centuries that "crap falls when I drop it", but it wasn't really understood until at least Newton and possibly Einstein (probably the latter, as only relativity reduces gravity to something more elementary than a "force" hence providing an explanation for the observation, rather than just a model, in terms of something fundamental; relativity is also a good example of a theory which makes no real sense outside of its mathematics, everything else is just easily digestible heuristics gleaned from its surface).


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05 Jan 2009, 5:53 pm

Shiggily, it is pointless to attempt to discuss evolution with someone who will not accept it does not include every related hypothesis, or who is too dishonest to admit that they simply made a mistake in defining evolution as requiring life to emerge spontaneously.

Might I remind you that challenging your incorrect definition (which you then claimed I was the only one to challenge even though I was not even the only one in this thread to challenge it) is all I have made any particular attempt to do. Rather ironic that you accuse academic disciplines of being too vague in their language at one point in this thread. I think the problem might be less about vagueness of language, and more about you failing to familiarize yourself with linguistic conventions within the discipline that were formulated for the purpose of avoiding and reducing vagueness.

I find it ironic that you describe yourself as curious, while casting aspersions about the honesty of various students and claiming that you simply want brutally honest truth. It's quite clear from your conduct in this thread that if the brutal honest truth includes informing you that your basic definitions are frankly wrong, you honestly do not want to know after all.

Evidently, I've had much better discussions about evolution with creationists. You see some of them actually know what the theory of evolution refers to, in the sense of knowing what it includes and what it does not, rendering them much more effective and interesting conversationalists on the matter than someone who does not even understand that abiogenesis is not evolution, and neither is every hypothesis that happens to refer evolution.



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05 Jan 2009, 8:22 pm

merrymadscientist wrote:
I was reading recently about the gap in our knowledge that is the generation of life from single amino acids. It is true that current evolutionary theory cannot explain this, as the probabilities are so low that the chance of life occurring is too small within the given time frame. I had a college professor that was a firm advocate of panspermia - this could explain how the original cells arrived on earth, that then would have evolved in ways we do understand today. Of course, these cells themselves must have originated in some way, even if not on earth. Perhaps in another part of the universe, favourable conditions operated for long enough that the probabilities for life arising were higher.

An alternative possibility that I have only just heard about, is that quantum mechanics might have played a role. Unfortunately I do not have my copy of the article I read on me (left it at work), but it was a review of how quantum mechanics could be a possible way of filling in gaps in our knowledge of things such as consciousness and origin of life. The general idea is that quantum computing is so much more hugely efficient than mechanical computing that low probability events, if they are somehow desirable, can be selected for with a much higher probablity than expected. This is a bad explanation on my part - I do not currently understand enough about quantum theory to be able to evaluate this hypothesis sufficiently (I plan to increase my understanding if I can ever find time amongst all the other things i want to do) or to explain it properly, but I do not think that the supernatural need be invoked, just because we do not understand something.

I would be greatly surprised if humanity had the capability of understanding everything in the universe (there hasnt been any need for this during our existence - no evolutionary pressure to force such an understanding). In addition, as has been pointed out, our systems of rational and logical thinking may be completely flawed - suitable for our life on earth maybe where we grow and evolve to recognise and rely upon cause and effect, but maybe not suitable for understanding the universe. I know this sounds illogical, but maybe cause and effect doesn't happen at large scale (or small scale - after all such 'chance' is a part of quantum theory if I am correct), and perhaps the natural explanation is that the universe came into existence randomly from nothing.


thanks for the interesting post. i need to research quantum computing.

we are stuck in linear thinking, going 'directly' from point A to point B with a straight line. this type of thinking may eventually prove to be an illusion based upon the mental constructs of time/space. i don't think it has been easy for us to accept that the shortest and fastest distance between 2 points---is not necessarily a straight line.

quantum theory disputes much of what we take for granted. it forces us to question conventional wisdom, common sense, and tested theories. we need to wrap our brains around the unconventional and begin in earnest to test those inspirational ideas that were rejected because they didn't conform with flawed conventional theory.

can we admit that there are at least certain scientific domains where cause-effect isn't helpful in gathering the data we need in order to further our goals?

we need to recognize the limitations inherent in the exclusive utilization of linear thinking....and when we use linear thinking to probe for new information, the boundaries where it will be effective need to be explicitly stated.



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05 Jan 2009, 10:29 pm

twoshots wrote:
Math being "better" is subjective. However, math is the gold standard for rigor. The issue of truth is prickly, but in terms of its conclusions properly done math is 100% "correct". This kind of certainty is a priori unattainable in the sciences. Likewise however is that physics too has much more stringent requirements in terms of precision etc; biology is not without reason considered among the softer of the hard sciences.

well i am certainly the first to admit that math is not my forte so my opinions are based on supposition mostly, and i don't try to present them as anything other than that.

i will say one thing in defense of biology as a 'soft' science, though...

--i believe the reason that biological science lacks much of the 'provability' you speak of not because it consists of too many vague categorisations, but rather because we lack the ability to measure and quantify in the language of life.

if math is the language of physics, and it describes the 'rules' in regards to the universe at large, and helps us quantify so we can understand..... does that automatically mean that life must follow those same 'rules'? perhaps life (being the exquisite complexity that we can barely begin to define, let alone understand, that it is) has a language of it's own that we have not learned to interpret yet (DNA comes to mind here.....especially all that 'junk DNA' that we have no clue as to it's purpose). remember, we have had math now for thousands of years--that many years to become familiar with the language. how long have we known about things like DNA? is it impossible to imagine that a force/being/creation/field of EM energy/whatever-you-want-to-call-it such as life could follow it's own unique set of 'rules', in it's own language?

i believe biology will be much less of a 'soft' science when we attain the ability to create the tools and imagine the ideas necessary to translate that 'life language', whatever it may resemble--basically, when we can measure and quantify all of the factors that are life, since that seems to be the only way human beings can understand anything.