explaining science to doubters

I got this off failblog.org. Sometimes all it takes is a few visuals.

In a simple form, science is employed by pretty much everybody every day. That Christian guy who’s a locksmith – does he just pray and have faith that he will be able to unlock that door, or does he practice with various techniques and tools to figure out which work for him the best?

Nobody really doubts the scientific method, they’ve just been taught by their elders that that thing with the name ‘science’ is evil, and they bought it. They allow themselves to apply the scientific method to every area of life and thought except a few – namely, biology and religion (including religious history).

They also like to concoct conspiracy theories about scientists lying to us because Satan is making them tempt people away from God or some such nonsense.

The Occam’s Razor part looks pretty questionable.

Yeah, I kind of question whether the wording “those that make fewer assumptions are more likely to be true” is the right way to put it. Reality’s as complex as it wants to be. It’s easier on our minds to chose the simpler explanation.

It would be interesting to see a statistical study done on theories that survived testing and theories that did not and see if the former group tend to be simpler than the latter.

Science is a social activity. Robust theories are elegant. They pack a punch. They correspond to the manner in which we comprehend and make use of things. It’s a signal-to-noise ratio issue.

If the visual wanted to be more complex it would have said that those theories that posit the most changes in the world are more likely to fail testing as those measurable predictions come back false.

The real question for me is, why do people doubt science?
Is it just so hard to understand science, its easier to doubt it?
Is it because of an education thing, the less educated the less belief
in science and why is doubting increasing, is this a sign we are less educated?
Are we more afraid of the world then our parents or grandparents and need faith more
then science? WHY faith over science?


I can see what they are saying, you do want things to be nice and simple in science so that it is easier to prove, but that is a qualitative argument not a quantitative one, if science relied on simplicity we would still think Earth, Fire, Air and Water were the four elements.

As someone said some things are just stupendously complex, I don’t understand how they proved quarks exist, or how they do quantum chromo dynamics with super computers, to churn through the vast possibility equations. That doesn’t mean because I don’t understand it or it is complex it has any more or less chance of being wrong than anything else, it just means if the data output matches the empirical evidence you are right, if not you are wrong.

Classic example string theory is so abstruse and impenetrable that it aught to be wrong by Occam’s razor, but no one has yet proved it wrong, which is not necessarily a good thing when it predicts anything, but you get the point. Occam’s razor would not appear in a text about the philosophy of science unless it was to dispute it had any relevance to science.

I believe the razor basically says that simplicity can be sacrificed for greater explanatory power. Also, it’s important to note the end of the illustration where it says the explanation isn’t expected to be perfect; just more accurate than the other theories barring any new information.

I agree, it’s about explanatory power. I don’t think the diagram communicates the concept well. In fact, I think it totally muddles it.

Neuroscientists are in a lot of trouble if simpler theories are more likely to be true than what they are finding out. Likewise particle physicists and ecologists.

People often take Occam’s Razor as ontological. It isn’t. It was intended as methodological.

I am sure there are some who doubt science, but I would guess this is rare, even if a number of people utter something like that. On closer examination very few doubt science, in some complete way. I think what gets doubted is the ultimate truth of the models. And/or that a scientific model is the only truth in its given area. Is physicalism as generally proposed by scientists, the final best explanation for all phenomena? For example. People may have problems with certain kinds of reductionism. People may feel that experimental data are being extrapolated into metaphysical positions that are not being called metaphysical positions, and they doubt that these extrapolations are correct. But pretty much everyone, explicitly or implicitly has some serious trust in science via their use and appreciation of technology. And this would, really, even include at least some very primitive technology, since much of this was created via experimentation working from hypotheses. In a certain sense science is simply a very highly organized learning from experience. I think there are very few who rule that out because it is highly organized.

There are some specific issues where scripture directly or seems to directly contradict science - evolution being the main are of conflict. There on that issue, you have a direct doubt of science on its own specific turf, but this generally does not lead to a full category doubt of science, whatever that would mean.

Personally when i do doubt science it is because I doubt everything and think it is wise to…
If only the more religious people would doubt there own religion as much as science perhaps we would have more… spiritual growth. Its one thing to doubt things though and another to completely ignore scientific findings. What is happening more is more ignorance not so much doubt, perhaps.

I don’t know that it is so much an occam’s razor thing, it is just the star theory had additional lined that weren’t justified by any of the dots, it was supposing evidence that wasn’t there.

I’m not sure I get what you mean?