[Top] [All Lists]

Re: [ontolog-forum] rant on pseudoscience

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ali Hashemi <ali.hashemi+ontolog@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 22 Jan 2010 02:38:04 -0500
Message-id: <5ab1dc971001212338k1387d75hfd855b54a6d1bb0e@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
A slight aside that might be helpful is to consider scientific endeavors as non-monotonic reasoning. Clearly, this perspective is limited, as people have multiply pointed out that there are other types of reasoning.

The only reason I mention it is to illustrate one way in which previously held beliefs might be discarded. According to the great work done by Gardenfors et al over the past 30 years - if you have a theory, you might be able to define an ordering on the beliefs which comprise that theory, i.e. you are more willing to discard certain beliefs over others. The core beliefs (in the formal case, axioms) are those that would require a lot of evidence / compelling case to discard, which corresponds quite well to "paradigm shifts" or "revolutionary ideas" as alluded to in the discussion.

Namely, someone promoting a perspective / theory which challenges the highly valued core axioms of a theory ought to provide a compelling argument as to why those core beliefs ought be replaced by the new ones. Obviously in less formalized sciences, a strict interpretation of the above perspective has limited utility.

The main point being, that strong rationale (of whatever sort is appropriate for the field) is what is compelling to people in the field to abandon a highly regarded belief and adopt a "revolutionary" idea.

It is also worth mentioning that a large amount of scientific progress has come about via experiments that have gone wrong - specifically, practitioners hypothesize A, the experiment results in data D which is inconsistent with A, so the experimenters instead develop hypothesis B to explain the data which may lead to a serious rethinking of the field. The Michelson-Morley experiments which inadvertently demonstrated that light does not require a medium are a wonderful example of this phenomenon ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelson–Morley_experiment ).

Additionally, people might be interested in this fascinating article from Wired on the nature of much scientific process from erroneous hypotheses and our brain's innate mechanism to account / adjust / integrate contradicting information ( http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/12/fail_accept_defeat/all/1 )

Of course, this is all a bit orthogonal to the institutional biases which might overlook/discard promising but unconventional research...


On Thu, Jan 21, 2010 at 11:58 PM, John F. Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
e important contributions.  He discovered oxygen, but
he continued to call it 'dephlogisticated air'.  Lavoisier gave the
death blow to the phlogiston theory by his very precise measurements
of the weight gains and losses during the process of burning.  Until
then, one could reasonably advocate the old theory.

Unfortunately, Lavoisier was on the receiving end of a death blow
in the French Revolution.  Priestly was an English "dissenter"
who celebrated Bastille day in 1791, but an English mob burned
down his house, and he decided to mo

(•`'·.¸(`'·.¸(•)¸.·'´)¸.·'´•) .,.,

Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/  
Config Subscr: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/  
Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/ 
To join: http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?WikiHomePage#nid1J
To Post: mailto:ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx    (01)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>