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#1 DialogicalCatalyst

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Posted 31 August 2019 - 12:35 AM

Let me start by saying I am not a trained scientist by any means, my specialty is more philosophy. But during my ventures into science and skepticism, I have gone into what we generally refer to as the Demarcation Criteria. I think we all know that it is important to distinguish between science and pseudo-science, and note that not every methodology or means of finding truth is science. Investigative reporting is not necessarily science. Philosophy is not science. History is not necessarily science. More scientific approaches to these subjects can be taken, but by and large they are not by themselves science.

 

The Demarcation problem is far from solved, and science itself tends to encompass several fields which may initially seem to have very little in common with respect to approaches taken by their practitioners. An Astrophysicist working with computer models can seem very different then a Zoologist working out on the African-Savannah, but these groups still seem to have some overlapping traits which make them more or less scientists practicing science. These features seem to be:

 

- Heavy emphasis on observation

 

 

- Hypothesis testing

 

 

- Peer review

 

 

Various "Gold Standards" of commonly accepted traits. This is of course very general and vague, as the Demarcation Problem is far from solved: https://plato.stanfo...science/#UniDiv

 

However, it is important to have some standards regarding what we consider science, if only but to, distinguish it from pseudo-science.

 

I would also like to note that science itself evolved from various proto-scientific methodologies, namely natural history and natural philosophy:

 

[URL unfurl="true"]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_history[/URL]

 

[URL unfurl="true"]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_philosophy[/URL]

 

This was preceded by several evolutions, a key example of which is Francis Bacon's "Novus Organum" or New Method, which was by and large, an argument for use of inductive methods, in a day and age when inductive logic was seen as inferior to deductive and formal logic, which was, in the Medieval and Scholastic mind, seen as far more certain.

 

In fact the word 'scientist' was coined rather recently (from a historical perspective) in 1833: https://askdrunivers...e-word-science/

 

So when did scientists stop being natural philosophers, and what exactly is the difference between a natural philosopher and a scientist? This question is important, because it is at the crux of the philosophical discovery I propose, which in Asimovian tradition, I humbly claim to have discovered by myself and which may be important.

 

And that is, I believe we are at the cusp of new methodologies, made possible by technological advances, which will be to science, what science is to natural philosophy. For lack of a better term, I call these 'Post-Scientific Methodologies".

 

What are these exactly? Well, much like Karl Popper, I do not put much stock in winning or losing arguments by "definition", and when it comes to very new phenomenon, definition by its very nature may be lacking. I am more going into this subject based on observations and examples of what I consider to be Post-Scientific Methods. To give a very vague and general description however, I would say they are technologically advanced methods of uncovering truth and knowledge that do not appear much like what we would call science. They may not be dependent on observations, may not be peer reviewed (in some cases, they cannot be peer reviewed at all with respect to say AI discoveries0 and do not involve hypothesis testing. Yet they still work.

 

So some examples:

 

Gamers solve molecular puzzle that baffled scientists

 

 

Basically scientists, in frustration after trying for decades to try and uncover various features of the AIDS retrovirus decided to take a Hail Mary and toss out the question as a video game. The gamers solved in 10 days what trained scientists could not solve in years. Is this science? Well I would be hard pressed to say playing video games is the same as conducting science, even if it leads to scientific discoveries. I mean, if we can count that as science, and I say, figure something out about the objective world by reading a book, or playing a story-based video-game, then we can also theoretically call reading books an act of science. That sounds a little too vague to me however, as if such is the case, we are basically calling ALL methods which discover objective truths science no matter what, which makes it so science really then has no point of demarcation at all besides what we think is convenient.

 

Another example:Computers are providing solutions to math problems that we can't check

 

So there goes peer review. There goes hypothesis testing. And there goes a lot of other features which we generally associate with scientists doing science.

 

Supercomputers make discoveries that scientists can't

 

The heading of the article from "NewScientist" speaks for itself. A bunch of AIs mined scientific literature, and made several discoveries, pretty much just by reading and inferring.

 

 

"IN MAY last year, a supercomputer in San Jose, California, read 100,000 research papers in 2 hours. It found completely new biology hidden in the data. Called KnIT, the computer is one of a handful of systems pushing back the frontiers of knowledge without human help."

 

So now we have to ask ourselves, if I read a bunch of books or articles, and by such reading deduce various truths about the objective world, does my reading and deduction now count as science?

 

This, I believe is the tip of the ice-berg. Call it what you will "Auto-Science" or "Virtual-Science" or even something else completely. However, I believe we are on the cusp of a wholly series of new methodologies, that once more fully developed, could perhaps make science as we currently understand it obsolete. AIs working with VR systems, Augmented cyber-minds working via networks, etc. Should these things be considered science, or are they qualitatively distinct methods just like we consider science distinct from natural philosophy?  Will they perhaps be so much more efficient, science as we know it, seems as outdated and obsolete to future generations as natural philosophy is to us?



#2 exchemist

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Posted 31 August 2019 - 08:55 AM



Let me start by saying I am not a trained scientist by any means, my specialty is more philosophy. But during my ventures into science and skepticism, I have gone into what we generally refer to as the Demarcation Criteria. I think we all know that it is important to distinguish between science and pseudo-science, and note that not every methodology or means of finding truth is science. Investigative reporting is not necessarily science. Philosophy is not science. History is not necessarily science. More scientific approaches to these subjects can be taken, but by and large they are not by themselves science.

 

The Demarcation problem is far from solved, and science itself tends to encompass several fields which may initially seem to have very little in common with respect to approaches taken by their practitioners. An Astrophysicist working with computer models can seem very different then a Zoologist working out on the African-Savannah, but these groups still seem to have some overlapping traits which make them more or less scientists practicing science. These features seem to be:

 

- Heavy emphasis on observation

 

 

- Hypothesis testing

 

 

- Peer review

 

 

Various "Gold Standards" of commonly accepted traits. This is of course very general and vague, as the Demarcation Problem is far from solved: https://plato.stanfo...science/#UniDiv

 

However, it is important to have some standards regarding what we consider science, if only but to, distinguish it from pseudo-science.

 

I would also like to note that science itself evolved from various proto-scientific methodologies, namely natural history and natural philosophy:

 

[url unfurl="true"]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_history[/URL]

 

[url unfurl="true"]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_philosophy[/URL]

 

This was preceded by several evolutions, a key example of which is Francis Bacon's "Novus Organum" or New Method, which was by and large, an argument for use of inductive methods, in a day and age when inductive logic was seen as inferior to deductive and formal logic, which was, in the Medieval and Scholastic mind, seen as far more certain.

 

In fact the word 'scientist' was coined rather recently (from a historical perspective) in 1833: https://askdrunivers...e-word-science/

 

So when did scientists stop being natural philosophers, and what exactly is the difference between a natural philosopher and a scientist? This question is important, because it is at the crux of the philosophical discovery I propose, which in Asimovian tradition, I humbly claim to have discovered by myself and which may be important.

 

And that is, I believe we are at the cusp of new methodologies, made possible by technological advances, which will be to science, what science is to natural philosophy. For lack of a better term, I call these 'Post-Scientific Methodologies".

 

What are these exactly? Well, much like Karl Popper, I do not put much stock in winning or losing arguments by "definition", and when it comes to very new phenomenon, definition by its very nature may be lacking. I am more going into this subject based on observations and examples of what I consider to be Post-Scientific Methods. To give a very vague and general description however, I would say they are technologically advanced methods of uncovering truth and knowledge that do not appear much like what we would call science. They may not be dependent on observations, may not be peer reviewed (in some cases, they cannot be peer reviewed at all with respect to say AI discoveries0 and do not involve hypothesis testing. Yet they still work.

 

So some examples:

 

Gamers solve molecular puzzle that baffled scientists

 

 

Basically scientists, in frustration after trying for decades to try and uncover various features of the AIDS retrovirus decided to take a Hail Mary and toss out the question as a video game. The gamers solved in 10 days what trained scientists could not solve in years. Is this science? Well I would be hard pressed to say playing video games is the same as conducting science, even if it leads to scientific discoveries. I mean, if we can count that as science, and I say, figure something out about the objective world by reading a book, or playing a story-based video-game, then we can also theoretically call reading books an act of science. That sounds a little too vague to me however, as if such is the case, we are basically calling ALL methods which discover objective truths science no matter what, which makes it so science really then has no point of demarcation at all besides what we think is convenient.

 

Another example:Computers are providing solutions to math problems that we can't check

 

So there goes peer review. There goes hypothesis testing. And there goes a lot of other features which we generally associate with scientists doing science.

 

Supercomputers make discoveries that scientists can't

 

The heading of the article from "NewScientist" speaks for itself. A bunch of AIs mined scientific literature, and made several discoveries, pretty much just by reading and inferring.

 

 

"IN MAY last year, a supercomputer in San Jose, California, read 100,000 research papers in 2 hours. It found completely new biology hidden in the data. Called KnIT, the computer is one of a handful of systems pushing back the frontiers of knowledge without human help."

 

So now we have to ask ourselves, if I read a bunch of books or articles, and by such reading deduce various truths about the objective world, does my reading and deduction now count as science?

 

This, I believe is the tip of the ice-berg. Call it what you will "Auto-Science" or "Virtual-Science" or even something else completely. However, I believe we are on the cusp of a wholly series of new methodologies, that once more fully developed, could perhaps make science as we currently understand it obsolete. AIs working with VR systems, Augmented cyber-minds working via networks, etc. Should these things be considered science, or are they qualitatively distinct methods just like we consider science distinct from natural philosophy?  Will they perhaps be so much more efficient, science as we know it, seems as outdated and obsolete to future generations as natural philosophy is to us?

Quite thought-provoking. However I think you may perhaps see more to these differences than I do. 

 

First of all, I do not consider peer review to be an intrinsic part of the philosophical methodology of science. It is merely a practical short-cut to filtering out errors or repeats of what has already been done.

 

The intrinsic philosophical part of doing science, surely, is constructing predictive models of aspects of nature than can be tested by reproducible observation. So long as this is the goal, then the means of doing it can be anything you like, it seems to me. So for instance using gamers to solve the 3D conformation of an enzyme is just an alternative to using a computer. The key thing is that, once you have the solution, it can be put to the test in some sort of observation in nature. 

 

You describe a sort of meta-analysis carried out by a computer, as if it is an alternative to observation, but it isn't  really. It is just looking again at previous observations, in order to detect hitherto unsuspected patterns. You need to consider what it was that this computer was re-reading. It was previous observations of nature, reported in various papers.  

 

So it seems to me that all these new methods continue to be what I consider to be science, viz. making predictive models from reproducible observations and and testing them against observations. It does not much matter whether it is human being that does this or a computer. 


Edited by exchemist, 31 August 2019 - 08:56 AM.


#3 DialogicalCatalyst

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 01:17 AM

Quite thought-provoking. However I think you may perhaps see more to these differences than I do. 

 

First of all, I do not consider peer review to be an intrinsic part of the philosophical methodology of science. It is merely a practical short-cut to filtering out errors or repeats of what has already been done.

 

The intrinsic philosophical part of doing science, surely, is constructing predictive models of aspects of nature than can be tested by reproducible observation. So long as this is the goal, then the means of doing it can be anything you like, it seems to me. So for instance using gamers to solve the 3D conformation of an enzyme is just an alternative to using a computer. The key thing is that, once you have the solution, it can be put to the test in some sort of observation in nature. 

 

You describe a sort of meta-analysis carried out by a computer, as if it is an alternative to observation, but it isn't  really. It is just looking again at previous observations, in order to detect hitherto unsuspected patterns. You need to consider what it was that this computer was re-reading. It was previous observations of nature, reported in various papers.  

 

So it seems to me that all these new methods continue to be what I consider to be science, viz. making predictive models from reproducible observations and and testing them against observations. It does not much matter whether it is human being that does this or a computer. 


It sounds like you are walking a fine line. In the one hand, you cannot define science so it describes ALL means of attaining knowledge - since that would then describe literature, history and philosophy. On the other hand, you cannot count these new 'currently ultra-technocratic methods as non-science, if you are to preserve science as the apex of knowledge attainment. At what point do you become a dogmatist, and I become a heretic?

02d.png



#4 exchemist

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 06:53 AM

It sounds like you are walking a fine line. In the one hand, you cannot define science so it describes ALL means of attaining knowledge - since that would then describe literature, history and philosophy. On the other hand, you cannot count these new 'currently ultra-technocratic methods as non-science, if you are to preserve science as the apex of knowledge attainment. At what point do you become a dogmatist, and I become a heretic?

02d.png

Eh? I have described what characterises science, and that would quite plainly exclude literature, philosophy, languages, music, art and history. None of these systems of thought and knowledge involves building models of nature that are tested by reproducible observation of it.

 

And I would not dream of suggesting that science is "the apex of knowledge attainment". That would be highly contentious and in my view hubristic. 

 

 

By the way I don't understand the picture you posted. Heresy's what?  

 

Do you mean heresy is.... [something unspecified]? Or do you mean [something unspecified] belonging to heresy? Or is this an outbreak of Greengrocer's Apostrophe on your part?

 

Later Note:

I've noticed the needle on my crankometer has moved off its end stop. The Greengrocer's Apostrophe, if that is what it proves to be, is one sign. Another is the introduction of the rhetorical and tendentious words "heresy" and "dogmatist". A third is the suggestion that science would be regarded  - by a defender of science - as the "apex" of knowledge attainment. And a fourth is the apparent inability to take in what I said in reply, as if there is preconceived outcome to be reached, regardless of what points are made by responders. 

 

I do hope it is a false reading, but, having been around a while on these forums, I begin to wonder if this is rolling the pitch for some crank theory and that, to mix metaphors, the Jolly Roger will be run up in a couple of posts' time....... :winknudge:


Edited by exchemist, 02 September 2019 - 04:24 AM.


#5 DialogicalCatalyst

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Posted 04 September 2019 - 09:20 PM

Eh? I have described what characterises science, and that would quite plainly exclude literature, philosophy, languages, music, art and history. None of these systems of thought and knowledge involves building models of nature that are tested by reproducible observation of it.

 

And I would not dream of suggesting that science is "the apex of knowledge attainment". That would be highly contentious and in my view hubristic. 

 

 

By the way I don't understand the picture you posted. Heresy's what?  

 

Do you mean heresy is.... [something unspecified]? Or do you mean [something unspecified] belonging to heresy? Or is this an outbreak of Greengrocer's Apostrophe on your part?

 

Later Note:

I've noticed the needle on my crankometer has moved off its end stop. The Greengrocer's Apostrophe, if that is what it proves to be, is one sign. Another is the introduction of the rhetorical and tendentious words "heresy" and "dogmatist". A third is the suggestion that science would be regarded  - by a defender of science - as the "apex" of knowledge attainment. And a fourth is the apparent inability to take in what I said in reply, as if there is preconceived outcome to be reached, regardless of what points are made by responders. 

 

I do hope it is a false reading, but, having been around a while on these forums, I begin to wonder if this is rolling the pitch for some crank theory and that, to mix metaphors, the Jolly Roger will be run up in a couple of posts' time....... :winknudge:

 

The Heresy's thing was meant to be tongue in cheek, though dogmatists are found everywhere, even sadly enough, I have found in science. Who would have thought a debate on taxonomy would get so political, in an email-group some scientists started comparing others to the Third Reich? http://discovermagaz...shing-phylocode

For the above, I read a debate on the issue in which one taxonomist started saying those advocating for a new system of taxonomy were trying to "force them" to change and he even went so far as to say "That is something the fascists did!" or some such. Which was, of course, ridiculous. But yes, even a debate in taxonomy seems to be able to bring out the worst in people. I'm just glad I don't participate in debates over Neo-Darwinian synthesis theories, as I imagine the sparks might really fly and I could end up being collateral. = )

As for being a crank, like I said I am not a scientist but more of a philosopher. If you want to see some real cranks, I'd say look at some of the crazy ideas of Liebniz. That is, if you got the Monads! https://www.iep.utm.edu/leib-met/

 

Any case, crank or not, I expect more evidence to accumulate. And thus, just like Galileo I will end by saying "And Nevertheless it moves. " Presuming Galileo was right, which is today being disputed: http://galileowaswrong.com/

galileo.png
 


Edited by DialogicalCatalyst, 04 September 2019 - 09:25 PM.


#6 exchemist

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Posted 05 September 2019 - 08:11 AM

The Heresy's thing was meant to be tongue in cheek, though dogmatists are found everywhere, even sadly enough, I have found in science. Who would have thought a debate on taxonomy would get so political, in an email-group some scientists started comparing others to the Third Reich? http://discovermagaz...shing-phylocode

For the above, I read a debate on the issue in which one taxonomist started saying those advocating for a new system of taxonomy were trying to "force them" to change and he even went so far as to say "That is something the fascists did!" or some such. Which was, of course, ridiculous. But yes, even a debate in taxonomy seems to be able to bring out the worst in people. I'm just glad I don't participate in debates over Neo-Darwinian synthesis theories, as I imagine the sparks might really fly and I could end up being collateral. = )

As for being a crank, like I said I am not a scientist but more of a philosopher. If you want to see some real cranks, I'd say look at some of the crazy ideas of Liebniz. That is, if you got the Monads! https://www.iep.utm.edu/leib-met/

 

Any case, crank or not, I expect more evidence to accumulate. And thus, just like Galileo I will end by saying "And Nevertheless it moves. " Presuming Galileo was right, which is today being disputed: http://galileowaswrong.com/

galileo.png
 

I'm not sure what point you are trying to make with this latest post.

 

I leave it you whether you want to continue this. 



#7 Flummoxed

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Posted 05 September 2019 - 09:43 AM

I'm not sure what point you are trying to make with this latest post.

 

I leave it you whether you want to continue this. 

 

Ramblings with no direction, point  or  question = word salad perhaps.



#8 exchemist

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Posted 05 September 2019 - 02:46 PM

Ramblings with no direction, point  or  question = word salad perhaps.

Yes, it's a bit disappointing, given that the OP was quite well argued and interesting. But the Greengrocer's Apostrophe in the 2nd post was a danger sign, I think.  



#9 DialogicalCatalyst

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Posted 14 September 2019 - 01:19 AM

The intrinsic philosophical part of doing science, surely, is constructing predictive models of aspects of nature than can be tested by reproducible observation. So long as this is the goal, then the means of doing it can be anything you like, it seems to me. So for instance using gamers to solve the 3D conformation of an enzyme is just an alternative to using a computer. The key thing is that, once you have the solution, it can be put to the test in some sort of observation in nature.

 

Doesn't that apply to any empirical endeavor that deals with the real world? If a news paper makes a prediction, and the prediction comes true - then that now counts as science. If a Bookie makes predictions, then gambling counts as science. If a historians predicts that we will find ruins in a certain area based on ancient maps - now that is science. If a literary critic declares that certain books exist, which are not known to exist by anyone else (as Mikhail Bakhtin did a handful of times, requesting books said not to exist, only to have people search thoroughly and find out they did exist but were very rare/obscure to the point of being declared non-existent) does that count as science?

Again it goes to my basic criticism of this idea of science being hopelessly vague to the point where it can count virtually any method. If so, it will be hard to argue this point in any manner which makes progress, because no matter how many examples I show, the response will be "But that still counts as science! Any empirical method that makes predictions counts as science." So at that point, what wouldn't count as science? Purely analytical methods?

 



#10 exchemist

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Posted 14 September 2019 - 09:50 AM

Doesn't that apply to any empirical endeavor that deals with the real world? If a news paper makes a prediction, and the prediction comes true - then that now counts as science. If a Bookie makes predictions, then gambling counts as science. If a historians predicts that we will find ruins in a certain area based on ancient maps - now that is science. If a literary critic declares that certain books exist, which are not known to exist by anyone else (as Mikhail Bakhtin did a handful of times, requesting books said not to exist, only to have people search thoroughly and find out they did exist but were very rare/obscure to the point of being declared non-existent) does that count as science?

Again it goes to my basic criticism of this idea of science being hopelessly vague to the point where it can count virtually any method. If so, it will be hard to argue this point in any manner which makes progress, because no matter how many examples I show, the response will be "But that still counts as science! Any empirical method that makes predictions counts as science." So at that point, what wouldn't count as science? Purely analytical methods?
 

No you're struggling now to affect to see a problem where there isn't one. And once more you have not read properly what I said. Your examples seem only to be examples of predictions. Well sure, all sorts of people make predictions, in all sorts of contexts, but so what? None of them makes predictive models of nature and then tests them by observation of nature, in any recognisable sense.

 

I have already explicitly acknowledged the role science plays in some aspects of history, by the way. And if a bookie could come up with a real predictive model of horse racing, that would be science, but just estimating probabilities of individual horses, based on their past performance, is not making a model in any recognisable sense.

 

There are grey areas of course. You may be familiar with the arguments over whether economics can be regarded as a science. Ditto the so-called social sciences. 

 

But to claim my definition is "hopelessly vague" is just being perverse, as the examples I have already given you, in post 4, of things that are clearly NOT science on that basis, illustrate.

 

If you want to substantiate your case, you need to show me a persuasive argument that music, art and literature consist of making predictive models of nature and then testing them by observation of nature.  That should be entertaining.