Probability is relative

At Aeon, Nevin Climenhaga makes some interesting points about probability.  After describing different interpretations of probability, one involving the frequency with which an event will occur, another involving its propensity to occur, and a third involving our confidence it will occur, he describes how, given a set of identical facts, each of these interpretations can … Continue reading Probability is relative

Being committed to truth means admitting the limitations of what we can know

Michela Massimi has a long article at Aeon defending scientific realism. The time for a defence of truth in science has come. It begins with a commitment to get things right, which is at the heart of the realist programme, despite mounting Kuhnian challenges from the history of science, considerations about modelling, and values in contemporary scientific practice. … Continue reading Being committed to truth means admitting the limitations of what we can know

Are the social sciences “real” science?

YouTube channel Crash Course is starting a new series on what is perhaps the most social of social sciences: Sociology. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnCJU6PaCio The social sciences, such as sociology, but also psychology, economics, anthropology, and other similar fields get a lot of grief from people about not being "real" science.  This criticism is typically justified by noting … Continue reading Are the social sciences “real” science?

What do scientific theories actually tell us about the world?

One of the things that's exciting about learning new things, is that often a new understanding in one area sheds light on what might seem like a completely separate topic.  For me, information about how the brain works appears to have shed new light on a question in the philosophy of of science, where there has long … Continue reading What do scientific theories actually tell us about the world?

What would evidence for the non-physical look like? A possible answer.

In the last post, I pondered what distinction between the physical and non-physical, noting that I've historically resisted the label of "physicalist" or "materialist" maintaining that, if any evidence for the non-physical ever did become available, I'd accept its existence.  I finished my post asking what that evidence might look like?  And if even asking … Continue reading What would evidence for the non-physical look like? A possible answer.

Steven Weinberg’s new book on the history of science

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

There is only one dogma of science: truth is better than fantasy

Dave Pruett has a post up at the Huffington Post looking at a declaration of eight "eminent" scientists and scholars calling for science to move past its materialistic focus.  The list of authors in this declaration includes Rupert Sheldrake, whose TED talk was removed from the TED site last year after an outcry from the scientific community … Continue reading There is only one dogma of science: truth is better than fantasy

Massimo Pigliucci on the boundary between science and pseudoscience

In this video, Massimo Pigliucci, the philosopher and biologist who runs the Scientia Salon site, discusses the demarcation problem, the dividing line between what is and is not science.  The distinction is easy for things like astrology and astronomy, but gets more difficult for many other areas. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBUKQWM5Jf0 I'd forgotten about Massimo's latest book on pseudoscience. … Continue reading Massimo Pigliucci on the boundary between science and pseudoscience