What is the goal of scientific reseach? Finding the truth or what?

I think this issue is well overdue at TSZ. I have quoted professor Lewontin’s well known statement on another OP that received some mixed feelings. To me, at least, it sheds doubt as to how science is done vs how it is supposed to be done…
Judge it for yourself:

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.

It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that Miracles may happen. “- Professor Richard Lewontin, a geneticist and one of the world’s leaders in evolutionary biology.

It is quite baffling how a relatively small group of people has been able to implement this kind of ideology into the world of science and education and bully anyone who dared to challenge this ideology…

There is no difference between Darwinian ideology and Communism, Nazism or any other tyrannical rule by the iron fist…

The minority bullies the majority into their ideology or beliefs system they call “science”.

“A lie repeated often enough becomes true”… – said the best propaganda man of the Nazis…” …and you may even find yourself believing it”

192 thoughts on “What is the goal of scientific reseach? Finding the truth or what?

  1. Kantian Naturalist: one still needs some further assumption that licenses the inference from epistemology to metaphysics.

    there is no such inference

    Kantian Naturalist: There’s a need for something like, “if we don’t understand how to reduce X to matter-in-motion, then we are justified in believing that X is supernatural”.

    Again you are missing the point. It’s not about our understanding or lack thereof it’s about the limits of science.

    1) does science have any limits?
    2) if so can we delineate them in a particular instance?
    3) if not why not

    Kantian Naturalist: there’s no reason why any naturalist should accept “reducible to matter in motion” as definitive of what counts as natural.

    Oh I agree with that as well.

    If you want to offer your own definition I’m all ears. Just don’t fall into the same trap as Neil Rickert and Flint

    peace

  2. fifthmonarchyman: Again you are missing the point. It’s not about our understanding or lack thereof it’s about the limits of science.

    1) does science have any limits?
    2) if so can we delineate them in a particular instance?
    3) if not why not

    The problem is the inference from “we currently lack a scientific explanation of X” to “X is supernatural”.

  3. Kantian Naturalist: The problem is the inference from “we currently lack a scientific explanation of X” to “X is supernatural”.

    I don’t make that inference so I don’t have that problem

    you could if you choose determine that X is perfectly within the sphere of “natural” and still determine that it is beyond the limits of science

    peace

  4. newton: How do you know?

    1) 😉

    2) Because the question I’m asking is not about a description of science but about it’s ability to test a particular hypothesis

    peace

  5. fifthmonarchyman: Again with the personal opinions.

    Why be satisfied with mere personal opinions when you have such a powerful tool as “science” to test the hypothesis?

    Surely the hypothesis that science is unlimited is falsifiable.

    Paradoxically If that particular hypothesis not falsifiable then it is falsified. Take a minute to chew on that………….

    “It should not”,………. “I think”

    Again with the personal opinions and preferences. I thought “science” was supposed to replace that sort of thing with hard fact.

    unless you are saying that “science” is utterly incapable of determining it’s own boundaries.

    peace

    Not everything people dream up can be subject to scientific testing. Science mainly deals with the workings of the physical world under the assumption of regularity. Sure, it can take a look at human activities too, but things quickly become complicated and messy. Why would the nature of science necessarily be something that would benefit from investigation with the scientific method? Normally this subject gets filed under philosophy.

    No, I am not saying that science is ‘utterly’ incapable of determining its own boundaries. That is far too sweeping a statement. Science can, and has, pointed to areas where it may have reached the limit of knowledge, such as the already mentioned Uncertainty Principle, what is going on inside black holes or the nature of the Bing Bang singularity. Such phenomena may be at the limits of science.

  6. faded_Glory: Such phenomena may be at the limits of science.

    I agree, the question is whether can we use science to determine if this is the case or not.

    Surely this is a hypotheses that can be tested. don’t you agree.

    peace

  7. fifthmonarchyman: you could if you choose determine that X is perfectly within the sphere of “natural” and still determine that it is beyond the limits of science

    I thought you wanted to say that consciousness, emotions, mathematics, love, etc. were supernatural because they couldn’t be empirically measured.

  8. fifthmonarchyman:
    “I doubt”, ………”I see no reason”

    Why does this always have to come down to personal opinion??

    Because, as I was saying, we’re very small compared to all that’s out there. So I have no option but to be humble. I cannot be The Representative of all that humanity knows. So I cannot be that well aware of all that’s known about abiogenesis. I thus spoke from the glimmers that have reached me about it.

    fifthmonarchyman:
    It seems to me that there is no reason that that sort of question could not be answered definitively.

    Why does this always have to come down to personal opinion?

    fifthmonarchyman:
    I think an acceptable to his question answer should look this something like this

    “Science is not capable of explaining X because X is not measurable”

    What I was talking about had nothing to do with something being measurable, but with the erasure of evidence by billions of years since the events took place. I have little to no hope that we can know the history of the beginning of life in our planet. However, you’ve got me wrong, there’s two different, if related, problems. One is explaining, another is figuring out the history. How life can start, as a phenomenon, we will know. What particular path(s) it took in our planet, we might never know.

    fifthmonarchyman:
    “Even though we have no explanation now Science is in principle capable of explaining X because X is in principle measurable”

    In this case, as I was saying, I’m not talking about measurability. I haven’t thought about limits in terms of measurability, but, rather, in terms of what’s reachable in terms of evidence. So, maybe measuring isn’t the problem. Maybe measuring should not be the thing setting the threshold. Technologies advance and we measure things today I’d never guessed just 20 years ago.

    fifthmonarchyman:
    peace

    Sure. Shalom.

  9. fifthmonarchyman: no, but I would say that emotions like love and hate are real and measureable but not empirically measurable.

    That is what makes them supernatural

    peace

    At this point I would like to understand your definition of ‘supernatural’. Counting love and hate as supernatural seems to require an awfully wide net.

  10. Kantian Naturalist: 1) does science have any limits?

    Before the advent of the telescope, the scientific process was limited in its ability to study the Solar System to that which could be seen with the unaided eye.

    2) if so can we delineate them in a particular instance?

    See above

    3) if not why not

    Science requires data , the telescope collects more data than the unaided eye. Science is limited by its tools and techniques.

  11. faded_Glory: Why would the nature of science necessarily be something that would benefit from investigation with the scientific method?

    We are not discussing the nature of science but whether it is unable to explain a particular phenomena.

    That seems to be a pretty strait forward question that could in principle be tested empirically. What am I missing?

    peace

  12. fifthmonarchyman: I agree, the question is whether can we use science to determine if this is the case or not.

    Surely this is a hypotheses that can be tested. don’t you agree.

    peace

    I don’t necessarily agree. Why don’t you talk me through your reasoning to come to this conclusion?

  13. faded_Glory: At this point I would like to understand your definition of ‘supernatural’. Counting love and hate as supernatural seems to require an awfully wide net.

    More like awfully poor philosophy.

    I’ve been enjoying your comments. Thanks for that.

  14. fifthmonarchyman: We are not discussing the nature of science but whether it is unable to explain a particular phenomena.

    That seems to be a pretty strait forward question that could in principle be tested empirically. What am I missing?

    peace

    I don’t understand where you are going with this. If the simple question is if science is unable to explain a particular phenomenon, the answer is simply to familiarize yourself with the literature and see if the phenomenon has been explained or not. If the question is if science is in principle unable to explain the phenomenon, you ask a much harder question and I don’t see why science itself should necessarily be able to answer it.

  15. newton: Science requires data , the telescope collects more data than the unaided eye.

    So??? I’m not sure why that is relevant.

    Telescopes don’t collect data that is categorically different from data that is collected by the unaided eye.

    We might some day use powerful telescopes be to see intelligent life on another planet. But we won’t be able to use telescopes no matter how powerful to see the amount of love those folks have for each other

    peace

  16. faded_Glory: At this point I would like to understand your definition of ‘supernatural’. Counting love and hate as supernatural seems to require an awfully wide net.

    Or, conversely, an awfully narrow net as to what counts as “natural.”

  17. faded_Glory: I don’t understand where you are going with this.

    I’m not going anywhere, I’m simply asking a question so as to explore an interesting comment made in this thread.

    faded_Glory: If the question is if science is in principle unable to explain the phenomenon, you ask a much harder question and I don’t see why science itself should necessarily be able to answer it.

    Why not. It’s certainly a hypothesis that can be tested.

    Neil (inadvertently) suggested a way to do just that.

    If phenomena X is not empirically measurable then it’s beyond the limits of science even in principle.

    That seems to be pretty straightforward.

    peace

  18. fifthmonarchyman:

    Why not. It’s certainly a hypothesis that can be tested.

    Neil (inadvertently) suggested a way to do just that.

    If phenomena X is not empirically measurable then it’s beyond the limits of science even in principle.

    That seems to be pretty straightforward.

    You have to be careful with this – what is measurable changes over time. How could you establish if something is not empirically measurable, in principle, ever ? Isn’t that the same question?

  19. faded_Glory: I don’t necessarily agree. Why don’t you talk me through your reasoning to come to this conclusion?

    It’s pretty simple.

    1) Neil Rickert claimed that science could not reach a point where it concluded that X was supernatural because it required empirical measurement to do so.

    2) It was pointed out that the exact position/momentum of a particular elementary particle would not be empirically measurable

    3) Therefore it seems to me that any explanation that depends on the exact position/momentum of a particular elementary particle would in principle be beyond the scope of science.

    4) so…. all we would need to do was show that any explanation for X would depend on the exact position/momentum of a particular elementary particle to falsify the hypothesis that science could explain X

    falsifying hypotheses is what science does

    peace

  20. fifthmonarchyman: It’s pretty simple.

    1) Neil Rickert claimed that science could not reach a point where it concluded that X was supernatural because it required empirical measurement to do so.

    Is this Neil’s statement that you refer to?

    Science never “reaches the point of supernatural.” Unless and until you can measure “supernatural”, science cannot reach such a point. And if you could measure the supernatural, it would no longer be considered supernatural.

    I should let Neil speak for himself, but I don’t interpret this as him saying that once we have established, somehow, that something is in principle unmeasurable, it therefore becomes supernatural. Speaking for myself, I would simply conclude that the explanation for the thing is, and will be forever, unknown.

    (ETA: As I said in my first post on this subject, I am open to the idea that there are things we may never be able to understand, so I have no quibble with your hypothetical scenario)

    Again, we need to understand what exactly you mean by ‘supernatural’ to see if we are dealing here with a simple tautology.

  21. fifthmonarchyman: So??? I’m not sure why that is relevant.

    It is a limitation, isn’t that what you are asking?

    Telescopes don’t collect data that is categorically different from data that is collected by the unaided eye.

    Nope that not true, and not sure why that is relevant to your question.Depending on the sensors they collect wavelengths of light at sensitivities the eye cannot see. Science was limited by its abilities to collect data pre-telescope.

    We might some day use powerful telescopes be to see intelligent life on another planet

    Maybe or the physical scale of the Universe might preclude that.

    But we won’t be able to use telescopes no matter how powerful to see the amount of love those folks have for each other

    You agree then, science is limited by the tools and techniques.

  22. faded_Glory: I should let Neil speak for himself, but I don’t interpret this as him saying that once we have established, somehow, that something is in principle unmeasurable, it therefore becomes supernatural. Speaking for myself, I would simply conclude that the explanation for the thing is, and will be forever, unknown.

    That sounds right to me.

  23. Neil Rickert: That sounds right to me.

    I don’t know if ID in Science classes is still a debate in the US or not, but there is an interesting consequence of Fifth’s proof. If someone proposes an explanation of the phenomenon anyway (say, ID) even after it has been proven that there cannot be a scientific explanation, this proposal should logically not be discussed in Science classes…

  24. faded_Glory: I don’t know if ID in Science classes is still a debate in the US or not, but there is an interesting consequence of Fifth’s proof. If someone proposes an explanation of the phenomenon anyway (say, ID) even after it has been proven that there cannot be a scientific explanation, this proposal should logically not be discussed in Science classes…

    I don’t agree with that.

    Scientists do philosophize. And the kind of philosophizing that scientists do, can be appropriate in a science class — not as the totality of what is taught, but as part of what is taught.

  25. Neil Rickert,

    I agree that there could be a role for such discussions in the curriculum, but away from the actual science classes. Non-overlapping magisteria and all that stuff.

  26. faded_Glory: I don’t interpret this as him saying that once we have established, somehow, that something is in principle unmeasurable, it therefore becomes supernatural.

    OK,……. I appreciate your opinion and Neil’s too. I’m just not to interested in opinions right now.

    I’m really interested in the limits of science

    peace

  27. faded_Glory: I am open to the idea that there are things we may never be able to understand, so I have no quibble with your hypothetical scenario

    I’m open to a lot of things as well. But they are beside the point as far as I can tell. Just like your repeated statement about supposed limits of your understanding.

    Science is not interested in what you or I can understand. It’s interested in falsifying hypotheses.

    peace

  28. newton: It is a limitation, isn’t that what you are asking?

    I’m not interested in temporary limitations right now.

    I’m interested in limitations that can not ever be crossed.

    1) Does science have any?
    2) Can we delineate them in a particular instance?

    peace

  29. faded_Glory: If someone proposes an explanation of the phenomenon anyway (say, ID) even after it has been proven that there cannot be a scientific explanation, this proposal should logically not be discussed in Science classes…

    Interesting, so you are saying that we can’t discuss the limits of science in science class??

    That can’t be right, can it?

    peace

  30. To find the truth is king. therefore to reject out of hand a option for truth is a rejection of Truth as King.
    So God or a claimed witness, the bible, are options for truth as well as their rejection.
    There is no such thing as science. its just peopl;e thinking about things and drawing conclusions AFTER they thought about things carefully.
    They think!!
    IO recently watched a lot of FOOL PENN and TELLER youtube episodes.
    its a great education of how misdirectiopn and other things fool people.
    In science this happens to as evolutionism proves.
    i see the claim of evolution as a biological theory as clearly false since its not based on biological evidence.
    humans, tailless primates for some, are careless in investigation I find.
    Unless i’m being careless about this and wrong?!
    i guess i would never know.

  31. newton: You agree then, science is limited by the tools and techniques.

    yes tools and techniques and ……..possibly the inability to inquire into particular subject matter.

    It’s only the third one that is relevant to the topic we are discussing right now AFAICT.

    peace

  32. faded_Glory: Again, we need to understand what exactly you mean by ‘supernatural’ to see if we are dealing here with a simple tautology.

    I’m not sure why the supernatural is important to this discussion at all.

    It’s certainly possible something could be completely natural and still be outside the limits of science.

    I thought that was Neil’s position when he seemed to saying that the supernatural was a subset of the larger set of things that are not empirically measurable.

    Regardless, This discussion does not even require that the supernatural exist, it only requires that science can test a certain hypothesis about it’s own limitations

    peace

  33. fifthmonarchyman: Science is not interested in what you or I can understand. It’s interested in falsifying hypotheses.

    I would think science would be interested in creating hypothesis based on observations and data as well.

  34. newton: I would think science would be interested in creating hypothesis based on observations and data as well.

    I think that hypotheses can be created based on almost anything whatsoever Including the fruitful imagination of a bored patent clerk

    check it out

    https://www.businessinsider.com/5-of-albert-einsteins-thought-experiments-that-revolutionized-science-2016-7

    What is important as far as science is concerned is that our hypotheses be testable.

    If they are not then they are not science

    peace

  35. fifthmonarchyman: This discussion does not even require that the supernatural exist, it only requires that science can test a certain hypothesis about it’s own limitations

    It seems like what you’re asking for is something like, “can we make an empirical measurement demonstrating that X cannot be empirically measured?”

  36. fifthmonarchyman: I think that hypotheses can be created based on almost anything whatsoever Including the fruitful imagination of a bored patent clerk

    Sure, but all explanations are not equal, as you said fruitful are the ones that science requires.

    check it out

    https://www.businessinsider.com/5-of-albert-einsteins-thought-experiments-that-revolutionized-science-2016-7

    What is important as far as science is concerned is that our hypotheses be testable.

    So to say science is interested in falsifying hypotheses in not quite right , it is interested in testing them.

    If they are not then they are not science

    Another limitation of science , how does one test the untestable.

    peace

  37. Kantian Naturalist: It seems like what you’re asking for is something like, “can we make an empirical measurement demonstrating that X cannot be empirically measured?”

    Empirically ever measured.

  38. fifthmonarchyman: I think that hypotheses can be created based on almost anything whatsoever Including the fruitful imagination of a bored patent clerk… What is important as far as science is concerned is that our hypotheses be testable.

    That is largely correct. However, there may be distance between the fruitful imagination and the testing of a hypothesis. And that means we can’t always draw a distinct line. Some ideas may have to ferment a while before they become a testable hypothesis, or can be tested, or are simply discarded before bearing fruit. That means fruitful imagination of a certain type can be considered part of the scientific endeavor.

  39. fifthmonarchyman: I’m not interested in temporary limitations right now.
    I’m interested in limitations that can not ever be crossed.

    In others words you want to know for some reason what our tools will never be able to detect? What we will never discover in the future?

    Why?

    1) Does science have any?
    2) Can we delineate them in a particular instance?

    There are parts of the universe which lie further away than light can travel in the age of the Universe ,the light from them will never reach the earth.That is not a temporary limitation.

    peace

  40. Kantian Naturalist: It seems like what you’re asking for is something like, “can we make an empirical measurement demonstrating that X cannot be empirically measured?”

    Wasn’t the Heidelberg uncertainty principle that conclusively established that you could not (ever) precisely measure the position/momentum of an elementary particle established/confirmed by measurement??

    I’ll admit that it seems paradoxical but there it is.

    peace

  41. faded_Glory: Perhaps you should read the OP?

    We derailed that train long ago. Perhaps we can get it back on the track once we explore this interesting cul-de-sac

    😉

    peace

  42. newton: Another limitation of science , how does one test the untestable.

    We are not talking about testing the un-testable we are talking about determining if X is un-testable.

    The alternative of course is to make the audacious claim that nothing is un-testable.

    peace

  43. newton: There are parts of the universe which lie further away than light can travel in the age of the Universe ,the light from them will never reach the earth.That is not a temporary limitation.

    excellent point

    So you are saying that things outside our light cone are forever outside the purview of science???

    If that is the case how do we know that these places exist?

    peace

  44. newton: In others words you want to know for some reason what our tools will never be able to detect? What we will never discover in the future?

    Why?

    Science is all about learning things that we don’t know at present.

    I want to know something if it is knowable.

    Don’t you?? If not why not??

    peace

  45. fifthmonarchyman: Wasn’t the Heidelberg uncertainty principle that conclusively established that you could not (ever) precisely measure the position/momentum of an elementary particle established/confirmed by measurement??

    The principle states an inversely proportional relationship between the precision of the measurement of the two quantities. The principle follows from the mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics as developed by Heisenberg.

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