Thursday, November 6, 2014

547: Is science really inductive - deductive in reasoning?

In the previous two lectures I presented to you the inductive-deductive method of scientific inquiry as developed by Aristotle.

He cited the syllogism in Barbara as the paradigm of scientific demonstration. 

 Barbara is the medieval acronym or mnemonic for the A - A -A syllogism.  This syllogism consists of A-type statements arranged in the following way:

                    All birds need food.
                    All chicken are birds.
               All chicken need food.

This had a great impact on the ideas about the growth of knowledge. What the scientist should do is observe and gather more and more knowledge about all this and all that.

Science thus becomes the total of facts, theories and methods,which are  collected in the current textbooks. And the scientist is the person who adds bits and pieces time and again.

According to such opinions, science develops by the addition of new truths to the stock of old truths, 

or the increasing approximation of theories to the truth, and in the odd case, the correction of past errors. 

Such progress might accelerate in the hands of a particularly great scientist, but progress itself is guaranteed by the scientific method.

Thomas Samuel Kuhn (1922–1996) is one of the most influential philosophers of science of the twentieth century, perhaps the most influential. 

In his 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions he questions this way of looking at this apparently linear growth of knowledge.

The traditional way of looking at the history of science is asking which man or woman discovered which fact or law and what was the next step.

The other question is, what kind of errors, superstition and myths were hindering the development of science then.

But when do you call something myth and when real science? In many early stages of development of sciences you see a continuous competition between philosophies of nature.

These different schools did not differ in scientific method. They all relied on empirical observation and logic, but the decision what the real scientific answer was in a certain issue was also decided by other aspects.

It means that the development of science is not just guided by observations, more observations and more discoveries.

In the days of Galileo and Kepler the growth of knowledge is not just decided by scientific method and more observations.

There were parties involved with their own interests. So, what is scientifically right or wrong is not only decided by method and observation.

Such a party for instance also decides what are the right questions to ask, what is the right direction to search.

[For instance, these days, there are questions like, what is the alternative for the gasoline driven combustion engine?

I guess everyone knows a story about someone who really asked that question a 60 years ago and how a whole scientific community qualified such a question as nonsense.

The following of rules (of logic, of scientific method, etc.) was regarded as the absolute condition of rationality. 

Kuhn claims however that scientists do not just employ rules in reaching their decisions and this would imply that de development of science isn’t such a linear process at all.

And he holds the view that it is impossible that we can distinguish between the psychological process of thinking up an idea and the logical process of justifying its claim to truth.
This puts science in a special daylight and forces us to think over the claim that science is right, really thoroughly.
Thank you ... ^_^

The Discussion

[13:22]  Lizzy Pleides: Thank you herman!
[13:22]  Dawn Rhiannyr: thank you Herman
[13:23]  Dawn Rhiannyr: trying again to say Thank you Herman
[13:23]  herman Bergson: It took till 1962 that we left the Aristotelian idea of growth of knowledge
[13:24]  herman Bergson: The interesting thing here is,is the idea that scientific development is not completely guided and controlled by logic and method
[13:24]  Merlin Saxondale: All I know about 1962 is that it was the year the Beatles became known
[13:25]  herman Bergson: oh....^_^ was that year/ :-))
[13:25]  Merlin Saxondale: hehe yes but I cannot see the connection with logic
[13:25]  Lizzy Pleides: by which other reasons is it guided?
[13:26]  herman Bergson: oh many....
[13:26]  herman Bergson: pretige, vanity, stubbornness, financial interests, tradition, name it
[13:26]  herman Bergson: the pressure of the group....
[13:27]  herman Bergson: Don't think out of the box...!
[13:27]  Lizzy Pleides: and some new insight have been discovered by accident
[13:27]  herman Bergson: You even may wonder whether it only have been some insights
[13:28]  Lizzy Pleides: i always loved the idea of brainstorming
[13:28]  herman Bergson: Like Kunh doesn’t split up the psychology of grabbing an idea and the rational justification of the idea
[13:29]  herman Bergson: Such a justification is almost always afterwards...
[13:29]  Lizzy Pleides: true
[13:29]  herman Bergson: That is what I learnt  about methodology.....
[13:29]  Lizzy Pleides: not only in science
[13:30]  herman Bergson: the scientific procedure is described in detail....
[13:30]  herman Bergson: and in the scientific article afterwards too.....
[13:31]  herman Bergson: But in reality it is just a big mess when working on your research :-))
[13:31]  Merlin Saxondale: There was a TV series by James Burke in the 70's or so....
[13:32]  Merlin Saxondale: Maybe called connections or something... he showed how scientific developments depended on previous ones
[13:32]  Lizzy Pleides: abit like in statistics, you say what you want and somebody makes a statistic which to proves it
[13:32]  herman Bergson: look cute with your iPhone Merlin ^_^
[13:32]  Merlin Saxondale: lol
[13:33]  Merlin Saxondale: Oh Dawn has gone.... I didn’t see her go
[13:33]  herman Bergson: real life it often goes like get some idea...more or less intuitively...
[13:34]  herman Bergson: You look around for some confirming data.....
[13:34]  herman Bergson: then begin to work somewhat more systematically.....
[13:35]  herman Bergson: and in the scientific article you tell the story as if it all went along the lines of correct methodology
[13:35]  Merlin Saxondale: oh yes ... looking for confirming data can be dangerous
[13:35]  Merlin Saxondale: There have been some cases of researchers rigging their data to suit their theory
[13:35]  herman Bergson: hehe..if you can find them ...some even create them themselves.....
[13:35]  herman Bergson: like this Dutch prof. Stapel...
[13:36]  herman Bergson: some cases, Merlin????
[13:36]  Merlin Saxondale: Even some of the great scientists of the past did it somewhat... Millican?
[13:36]  herman Bergson: Even so bad...a cardiology prof rigged his data....went all over the world....
[13:36]  Lizzy Pleides: many I guess
[13:36]  herman Bergson: His conclusions may have caused the death of people even
[13:37]  Merlin Saxondale: oh dear
[13:37]  Lizzy Pleides: some are unscrupulous
[13:37]  herman Bergson: was about the use of beta blockers in relation to surgical operations on patients with heart problems
[13:38]  Merlin Saxondale: yes, they used to say that 90% of all the scientists who have ever lived are still alive now
[13:38]  Merlin Saxondale: Probably not true any more
[13:38]  Merlin Saxondale: but there are some career scientists funded by the government
[13:39]  herman Bergson: yes....and that influences the research....
[13:39]  Merlin Saxondale: Getting political even without Bejiita
[13:39]  herman Bergson: Ahhh :-)))
[13:39]  Merlin Saxondale: yes it does indeed Herman
[13:40]  herman Bergson: Thomas Kuhn was one of the first to point out such features in the development of knowledge
[13:40]  Lizzy Pleides: science seems to be subordinated to economy at first
[13:40]  herman Bergson: today you might say that indeed...
[13:41]  Lizzy Pleides: why we don't have already medicin against ebola, it was a disease of the poor 
[13:41]  herman Bergson: For instance....people love to do research which generate results which are popular in the media
[13:41]  Merlin Saxondale: Yes Lizzy
[13:41]  Lizzy Pleides: now its getting interesting
[13:42]  Merlin Saxondale: Or, ... it was once
[13:42]  Lizzy Pleides: it is increasing
[13:42]  Merlin Saxondale: What happens if it gets to London?
[13:42]  herman Bergson: YEs....That might be a very clear reason why what is happening to day is happening...
[13:43]  Merlin Saxondale: Just think if the crowds in the underground stations
[13:43]  herman Bergson: Because...all of a sudden there yet is some vaccin in Canada developed.....but only in a small quantity...
[13:43]  Lizzy Pleides: it might become the ”pestilence ” of our time
[13:43]  Merlin Saxondale: On radio today..... Ebola mutates and could even become airborne etc
[13:44]  herman Bergson: I don't think so, Lizzy :-)
[13:44]  Merlin Saxondale: albeit unlikely they say
[13:44]  Lizzy Pleides: why you don't think so herman?
[13:45]  herman Bergson: The development in Africa is mainly caused by the fact that people lack the understanding of the situation....
[13:45]  herman Bergson: They even hide their sick people....want to go to their tribal medicine man...
[13:45]  herman Bergson: Are scared of western medicine.....
[13:46]  herman Bergson: Just look at the TV images....
[13:46]  herman Bergson: People dressed like martians come  to your house....
[13:46]  herman Bergson: People who havent seen a European ever, for instance....can't read or write.....
[13:47]  herman Bergson: It is a very sad situation.....
[13:47]  Merlin Saxondale: Well the latest who got it in USA died of it
[13:47]  Lizzy Pleides: oh yes
[13:47]  Lizzy Pleides: in germany too
[13:47]  Merlin Saxondale: despite modern medicine
[13:47]  Lizzy Pleides: and in spain
[13:47]  herman Bergson: No No Merlin.....
[13:47]  Merlin Saxondale: No?
[13:47]  herman Bergson: The one in the US>....
[13:48]  herman Bergson: there are reports that the people at the hospital didn’t take the proper precautions and soon....
[13:48]  Merlin Saxondale: yes I agree
[13:48]  Lizzy Pleides: they must have made mistakes in hygiene
[13:49]  Merlin Saxondale: but that shows that simple avoidance of the primitive is not enough
[13:49]  herman Bergson: Yes they had...
[13:49]  herman Bergson: true.....
[13:49]  herman Bergson: But I don’t believe it ever can become epidemic here in Europe
[13:50]  Lizzy Pleides: did we wander off the topic now?
[13:50]  Merlin Saxondale: lol
[13:50]  herman Bergson: We are too well organized for that
[13:50]  herman Bergson: I guess we did :-))
[13:50]  Merlin Saxondale: As ever Lizzy
[13:50]  herman Bergson: So time to dismiss class ^_^
[13:51]  herman Bergson: thank you  for your participation :-)

[13:51]  Lizzy Pleides: thank you again herman!

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