I'm always interested in new takes on the demarcation between science and non-science, so after seeing the New Yorker write up on Michael Strevens' new book, The Knowledge Machine: How Irrationality Created Modern Science, it seemed like something I needed to read. Strevens begins by examining the two leading theories of science: Karl Popper's falsifiability … Continue reading The iron rule of science?
Noam Chomsky published an essay on his web site a few years ago: Science, Mind, and Limits of Understanding. Chomsky's thesis is that there are areas of reality that science is simply incapable of understanding. He uses as his principle example, the case of Isaac Newton's understanding of gravity. Chomsky acknowledges that this is a … Continue reading The mechanical philosophy and mysterianism
This is part of an ongoing series inspired by my reading of Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. A while back, I discussed the discovery of discovery, the historical development of the idea that there were things to discover in the world, things the ancients didn't already know. Harari flips this around, … Continue reading The crucial knowledge of ignorance
Jerry Coyne has a post up discussing Steven Weinberg's new book on the history of science, including an exclusive excerpt: Steven Weinberg’s new book on the history of science (with excerpts) « Why Evolution Is True. The portion of the excerpt that spoke most clearly to me was this passage near the end: Science is not now … Continue reading Steven Weinberg’s new book on the history of science
This excellent TED talk by Naomi Oreskes covers many of the same topics we've discussed before, concerning the limitations of scientific expertise, why scientists trust experts in other fields, and why lay people should trust scientific consensuses. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxyQNEVOElU via Naomi Oreskes: Why we should trust scientists | Talk Video | TED.com. Of course, trusting science is … Continue reading Naomi Oreskes: Why we should trust scientists
The idea that our universe may be just one among many out there has intrigued modern cosmologists for some time. But it looks like this "multiverse" concept might actually have appeared, albeit unintentionally, back in the Middle Ages. When scientists analyzed a 13th-century Latin text and applied modern mathematics to it, they found hints that … Continue reading How a Medieval Philosopher Dreamed Up the ‘Multiverse’ | Space.com
Sean Carroll has an interesting piece at The Stone on the New York Times site, pointing out that the theory of cosmic inflation was motivated by naturalism. In other words, it was motivated by the desire to find a natural explanation for something that didn't look natural, such as the apparent fine tuning necessary for the … Continue reading Science and naturalism
One of the things I used to think was that the scientific revolution in the 16th and 17th centuries was a revolution of method, that before that period the scientific method either didn't exist or was not yet complete. But I realized last year that the revolution was really more of an acceleration of progress … Continue reading Top 10 scientists of the 13th century | Science News