“Historical vs Observational Science”

Let’s lay this one to rest, shall we?

All science is observational – observations are what we call “data”.

All science is predictive, whether it concerns events that happened in the past, and are unlikely to occur again, or events that are reproducible.

The scientific method is simple: you construct a model that fits a current set of observations, and then use that model to predict new observations.

There IS a difference between correlational and experimental inference, and some of what the likes of Ken Ham call “historical science” is correlational rather than experimental inference.  The difference is that in experimental methodology the experimenter manipulates a randomly allocated variable.  That way, if the observations correlate with the manipulation, you know the observed phenomena were the result of the manipulation – you know that the observation did not cause the manipulation.  Although that may be moot in QM, I don’t know.

But it has no bearing on Ham’s faux distinction.  We can make models about the past that we can test by making predictions about what we will find e.g. Tiktaalik, as Bill Nye pointed out.  The fact that Tiktaaliks are long dead is as irrelevant to the methodology as the fact that a murder victim is dead is irrelevant to forensic methodology.  In fact there is a sense in which all observations are in the past by the time we’ve observed them.

And it is possible to make predictions about what observations we will make if the world is 13 billion years old, and if it is 6000 years old.  And the predictions arising from the former model are confirmed by multiple independent observations, and those from the latter by zilch.

205 thoughts on ““Historical vs Observational Science””

  1. olegtolegt

    Gregory: He does not seem to acknowledge the negative consequences of Soviet atheism. But hey, how many ‘western’ atheists actually would or realize the consequences of their ideology?

    I’ve said that once before, but it bears repeating. Atheism isn’t an ideology. It’s a worldview. Atheists have no coherent program of action. They merely don’t believe in gods.

    Communism is an ideology. Atheism was promoted by communists. I see no reason to conclude that it works the other way around.

  2. Kantian NaturalistKantian Naturalist

    Gregory: You do recognise the difference between naturalism and empiricism, right? Out of your league.

    No, apparently you don’t. Myth. Nothing given. Pragmatism. KN’s ex-Reform Jewish worldview. Ultimately despair. Eclectic mess.

    I assure that I’m perfectly familiar with the differences between the different varieties of naturalism and the different varieties of empiricism.

    And based on what you’ve written here, it’s perfectly clear that you don’t have the slightest comprehension of what Sellars meant by “the Myth of the Given”, despite the various links I’ve presented over the past few months.

    And the “ultimate despair” is nothing but your own projection — what you imagine yourself as feeling if you believed what you imagine that I believe. It has nothing at all to do with what I actually believe.

    I’d be willing to share that with you, but at this point I’m not sufficiently convinced that you’re interested in learning anything about me or from me. Learning from another requires a willingness to listen, and thus far you have not indicated that willingness.

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