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Friday, June 27, 2014

Science: A work in theoretical progress

Scientific Observations in 1673  (PD)
When most laymen hear the term “scientific proof,” they assume that it means something fairly certain.

However, today’s “fairly certain” can easily become tomorrow’s laughable matter.  Annalee Newitz of io9 quotes these words from physicist Sean Carroll: I would say that ‘proof’ is the most widely misunderstood concept in all of science.

Carroll explains that most people interpret such “proof” to mean “strong evidence for something.”  However, what Carroll calls the “technical definition” of scientific proof is
simply this:  …a logical demonstration that certain conclusions follow from certain assumptions…

With this latter, less certain-sounding type of proof, it’s no wonder that scientists tend to “hem and haw” when confronted with life’s BIG questions.

Carroll nevertheless concludes that “science is so successful” because it “never really proves anything, but simply creates more and more reliable and comprehensive theories of the world…”

These theories may be deemed successful in terms of worldly usefulness, but will they ever be able to get beyond their own underlying assumptions?


Copyright June 27, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved


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