The spectrum of science to fantasy

Black swans

A question long argued in the philosophy of science is the demarcation problem.  How to we distinguish science from non-science?  Karl Popper famously proposed falsifiability as a criteria.  To be science, a theory must make predictions that could turn out to be wrong.  It must be falsifiable.  Theories that are amorphous or flexible enough to … Continue reading The spectrum of science to fantasy

Predictions and retrodictions

I've often noted here the importance of predictions, both in terms of our primal understanding of reality, such as how to get to the refrigerator in your house, or in terms of scientific theories.  In truth, every understanding of reality involves predictions.  Arguably a fundamental aspect of consciousness is prediction. Of course, not every notion … Continue reading Predictions and retrodictions

The role of beauty and simplicity in scientific theories

In the post on Copernicus earlier this week, I noted that his heliocentric theory, right from its initial publication, was hailed as far more mathematically elegant than the Aristotelian / Ptolemaic system, which was taken as the canonical model of the universe at the time.  But while everyone hailed Copernican mathematics, virtually no one accepted … Continue reading The role of beauty and simplicity in scientific theories

The problems with post-empirical science

Jim Baggott has a pretty good piece at Aeon on the problems with post-empirical science.  I've highlighted Baggott's views before.  Along with others like Sabine Hossenfelder and Peter Woit, he calls attention to a serious issue in physics, the rising acceptance of theories that show little promise of being testable in the foreseeable future.  In … Continue reading The problems with post-empirical science

Empirical vs Fundamental IIT and the benefits of instrumentalism

The other day, when discussing a paper that criticized IIT (the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness) as unscientific, I noted that IIT, while questionable as the ultimate answer for consciousness, could be useful in the more limited capacity of distinguishing degrees of consciousness in a brain.  Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks that, … Continue reading Empirical vs Fundamental IIT and the benefits of instrumentalism

The relationship between usefulness and falsifiability

There's an article by Matthew R. Francis in Symmetry magazine garnering a lot of attention asking whether falsifiability is a useful criteria for scientific theories. Popper wrote in his classic book The Logic of Scientific Discovery that a theory that cannot be proven false—that is, a theory flexible enough to encompass every possible experimental outcome—is scientifically useless. … Continue reading The relationship between usefulness and falsifiability