Monday, May 26, 2008
An article by Karl Popper which I found in a discussion with members of the "environmentalist" movement which I may comment on later.
The whole thing is worth reading but I put up the conclsions with a few comments, #4 is generally considered the most important contribution:
1. It is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory—if we look for confirmations.
2. Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions; that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in question, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory—an event which would have refuted the theory.
3. Every "good" scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things to happen. The more a theory forbids, the better it is.
4. A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue of a theory (as people often think) but a vice.
6. Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or to refute it. Testability is falsifiability; but there are degrees of testability; some theories are more testable, more exposed to refutation than others; they take, as it were, greater risks. this is the argument creationists use in that it is impossible to test exactly what happened millions of years ag - however it is possible to test the rules of heredity & manmade selection & in any case the best they can claim is to say, wrongly, that Darwin is almost as untestable as thir's & therefore crap too
6. Confirming evidence should not count except when it is the result of a genuine test of the theory; and this means that it can be presented as a serious but unsuccessful attempt to falsify the theory. (I now speak in such cases of "corroborating evidence.")
7. Some genuinely testable theories, when found to be false, are still upheld by their admirers—for example by introducing ad hoc some auxiliary assumption, or by re-interpreting the theory ad hoc in such a way that it escapes refutation. Such a procedure is always possible, but it rescues the theory from refutation only at the price of destroying, or at least lowering, its scientific status. (I later described such a rescuing operation as a "conventionalist twist" or a "conventionalist stratagem.") we see numerous ad hoc adaptions to the warming theory, most recently that it will stop for 10 years but then restart