Ethan Siegel at Starts With a Bang has a post up arguing that the multiverse must exist. His reasoning has to do with cosmic inflation. Inflation is the theory that the universe expanded at an exponential rate in the first billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second of the big bang timeline. … Continue reading Is cosmic inflation settled science?
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
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
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?
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?
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.
One label that often gets applied to me is "materialist", or sometimes "physicalist." It's a label that, while it probably gives an accurate idea of my conception of reality, I've generally resisted. Why? Because if there were ever any evidence for anything non-physical, I would accept its existence. Consequently, I've often felt that a better label … Continue reading What is physicalism?
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
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
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