Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Scientific Methods Info

Since Kansas is refusing to teach the scientific method, I figure I'll start. Couple of posters:

Color poster

Simpler B&W

Now for some discussion on the issue

Why Inteligent Design is not scientific (From a comment on Slashdot. ):

Project: Prove that no intelligent being had a hand in the creation or evolution of life.

Can't be done - it's a textbook example of proving a negative - logically insoluble. The only way you can prove a negative is by empirical evidence - I don't *know* that we're not actually being held down by thousands of tiny invisible fairies flapping their wings, but I *do* know that things in a vacuum fall done at the same rate, and flapping wings can't help you fly in vacuum, so I consider this theory disproven, so empirically I can prove that no fairies meeting this description are causing the illusion of gravity.

[editors note: Philosopher Karl Popper cannonized this in his writing Science as Falsification with this statement: "[...] the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability." ]

Intelligent Design has no such empirical test - the theory that we're being pulled down by tiny invisible fairies is in fact a scientific theory in a way that I.D. isn't, because I can design a test to disprove it. Go through enough iterations of my testing the theory, and modifying the theory to fit the new test (They're unbreathing fairies, with tiny 'lil rubberbands holding them down), and we'll find that eventually I have 'fairies' that look astonishingly like gravitons. Personally, Physics is easier than stubbornly staying with the fairies theory, but the nature of the scientific method means I will, after many iterations, home in on the same truths.

Continuing on:

Evolution is not a theory - it is a fact. It happens, it is observable. The *why* of evolution, or the mechanics of how it works, are still being investigated, and new facts and evidence are being added toward the various theories. By the way, in the scientific world, "theory" means "a statement of what are held to be the general laws, principles, or causes of something known or observed", as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary.


Nat has a good post on his blog with some fine quotes from the democratically elected members of the Kansas Board of Education. Remember these quotes come election time . . .

Witfits has a neat post from the Vatican

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just a note: I know how creationists have tried to twist the word theory to mean something it doesn't, and it actually has a lot of people confused. Evolution is a theory, just like gravity is a theory. It is a model of the way something works. From wikipedia, a fact is "Generally, a fact is defined as something that is true, something that actually exists, or something that can be verified according to an established standard of evaluation". By contrast, "a theory is a testable model of the manner of interaction of a set of natural phenomena, capable of predicting future occurrences or observations of the same kind, and capable of being tested through experiment or otherwise verified through empirical observation." Both of these things apply Evolution. It is a fact and a theory.