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Published on May 14, 2008 By OckhamsRazor In Ethics

I suppose it's somewhat ironic that I'm placing this article in Philosophy->Ethics, but perhaps you'll bear with me to see why.

 

Let's face something, folks - there's a big debate, on these forums, and just about everywhere else, about what should be taught in a science classroom and what should not.  I have one real problem with the argument from both sides - it is emotionally based.  I find absolutely no use for emotion when discussing something that is "supposedly" scientific whether it be evolution OR Intelligent design.  Any emotion regarding either subject needs to be summarily discarded as not useful to the argument.

 

So I am writing this article, outside of ANY issue up for debate, to state what I "believe" (word used for humor purposes) is a fact.  And that fact is that anything that does not use The Scientific Method in its determination is not science and therefore should not be taught in a science classroom.  That said, here is a synopsis on The Scientific Method.  If you agree that this method is an unbiased good way to determine facts about nature, then apply it to your beliefs and see if it is science.  If you can test your beliefs using the scientific method and are willing to publish those testable results for all to see, then have on!  Perhaps your belief belongs in the science class.  Yay!

 

The Scientific Method goes like this:

 

  1. Ask a question. 
  2. Do some background research
  3. Construct a hypothesis.  A hypothesis goes like this:  If I do "this" then "that" will happen.
  4. Design an experiment by which you can test that hypothesis.
  5. Test the hypothesis with your experiment.
  6. Record the results.
  7. Ask the question "Do the results prove my hypothesis, disprove it, or is there still room for doubt?
  8. If it proves your hypothesis, retest several times to make sure you get the same results.
  9. If it disproves your hypothesis, well, you're pretty much done with that hypothesis.  Rewrite it and try again from step 5.
  10. If there's room for doubt, you must redesign your experiment to test for something you can either prove or disprove.  If that is impossible, then the question you are asking is located outside of the realm of science.

 

Is that pretty clear?  I hope so.  There are lots of anti-god evolutionists that want to state that evolution is 100% fact.  That automatically makes them non-scientific because nothing can be proven to be 100% fact. 

 

For people that believe they have enough evidence to lay down some money in a bet that evolution is a fact, these anti-god types do discredit to the rest.  I do not support them.  They give atheists that love people and try to live good lives a bad name.

 

For people that believe that in order to combat THAT group they must circumvent the scientific method to get "equal time" for their beliefs, I am sad to say I have nothing but scorn.  For they are doing nothing different from the people they have issue with.

 

I urge you all to make your own science.  But you have to follow the above method.  The above method has no predisposition to anything except that which can be made observably true through rigorous experimentation.  And if you can't use that method to prove your hypotheses, then don't cry about it when it isn't taught in a science class.  It hasn't earned the right to be there.  Saying that it has is unethical.


Comments (Page 1)
on May 14, 2008
I just want to add the word "objectively verifiable".
on May 14, 2008

As an objectivist, I hear ya, man.  Where should it be added?

on May 14, 2008
# Design an experiment by which you can test that hypothesis.
# Test the objectively verifiable hypothesis with your experiment.
# Record the objectively verifiable results.
# Ask the question "Do the results objectively prove my hypothesis, disprove it, or is there still room for doubt?
# If it objectively proves your hypothesis, retest several times to make sure you get the same results.
# If it objectively disproves your hypothesis, well, you're pretty much done with that hypothesis. Rewrite it and try again from step 5. Do not change the experiment. Once you've disproved it, you've disproved it.
# If there's room for doubt, you must redesign your experiment to test for something you can either objectively prove or disprove. If that is impossible, then the question you are asking is located outside of the realm of science.

Yeah, it would be excessive, but I've seen people try to treat feelings as proof or state you have to believe to understand. I'd probably also add something about inference, your screen name's origin, and a observable phenomenon. (Thinking of a discussion with lula I had where she seemed to think an all powerful omnipotent being molding the Earth directly was a simpler and more likely explanation than a gravity field gradually gathering materials...)

on May 14, 2008
Yeah yeah...I've seen Occam's Razor raped as well. If I have to point out that the purpose of the scientific method is objectivity, then my statements are already lost on the reader. Anyone that wants to believe that science is subjective is welcome to, but once again, I don't want to see any whining and bitching when their beliefs aren't found in a science class.

In short, I feel your pain over the subject. Would that we could live in a world where nothing was considered worthy of attention that wasn't subject to the scientific method. Unfortunately, there are too many people that want to wish their own realities into existence, and they have a vote, too.
on May 14, 2008
I like Sagan's baloney detection kit... WWW Link
on May 14, 2008

Objectivity, and those who continually lack it, particularly when discussing evolution and intelligent design, is one thing that consistently annoys me.  Emotion and subjectivity are not facts.  These are feelings.  Feelings can't be quantified, except in the most basic of terms.  And even then, anyone who has studied pain management, for instance, knows how difficult it is to quantify an individual's experience of pain. 

Of course, everything I say should be counted as subjectively unverifiable.

Good article, Ock.

on May 15, 2008
There are lots of anti-god evolutionists that want to state that evolution is 100% fact. That automatically makes them non-scientific because nothing can be proven to be 100% fact.


I think that says it all. The ones you refer to are just replacing one religion with another.
on May 15, 2008

I think that says it all. The ones you refer to are just replacing one religion with another.

 

Are you suggesting that evolution is a religion?

on May 15, 2008
Are you suggesting that evolution is a religion?


The scientific theory is not. It passes the smell test (enumerated by you above). The adherents that blindly follow the latest trend are practitioners of a religion however. Man can worship anything or anyone he sets his mind to. And like Global Warming, those who want to be "in" but do not understand what "in" is, are just practicing a religion. In this case, it is the religion of evolution.

Just because people make a religion out of something, does not mean that the ism itself is a deity. Only that those believing in it are doing so based upon faith, not fact.
on May 15, 2008

So who are these people that believe in evolution based on faith?  I've heard of this, but I don't know of any, personally.  Do you?

 

People may believe evolution, but I doubt anyone has faith in it.  There IS a difference between faith and belief.

on May 15, 2008
So who are these people that believe in evolution based on faith? I've heard of this, but I don't know of any, personally. Do you?


Personally? I dont go around asking people about it. But know of? Sure. Just read the boards, less so here at JU, but you can find them wherever the subject comes up. I do not know them personally, only through their writings.
on May 15, 2008

They have "faith" in evolution?  C'mon man.  You can't be serious.

on May 15, 2008
They have "faith" in evolution?  C'mon man.  You can't be serious.

I've seen people have faith there is no god(s), but not really faith in evolution.
on May 15, 2008

OckhamsRazor,

Excellent, I agree 100%! If this method were carried out to a T with no ego or preconceptions the world would indeed be a very different place. However, due to human nature two more items need to be added into the mix

1) Credentials

2) Peer review

Credentials are needed to ensure that you at least have a base understanding of the topic you are working on. A person walking in off the street simply doesn't have the necessary knowledge base to start serious research on the human genome! This is not intended to be snobbish or condescending, but the simple truth is that we've built up our knowledge base in most areas with so many million man-hours of research. In order to do further research on a topic you need to know the existing foundations that have been laid before you can even begin. A friend of mine likes to fancy himself a scientist and does "genetic research" on google and then produces papers just for fun. In his opening paragraph he stated that the 4 main base pairs were "adenine, thyroid, guanine and cykosine"

Peer review is needed because other people with at least a base level of understanding of the topic that you are researching need to be able to verify your results independently. All these results then need to be published in publicly available scientific journals!

on May 15, 2008

I'd emphasis something that Artysim brought up. Having it reviewed independently is important, but the public availability of the results, method, data, assumptions and inferences has to be guaranteed for it to really be science. Stuff that comes out of think tanks (aside from not always being peer reviewed) tends to also only publish a portion of the research, and that compromises the validity of the results.

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