Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Falsifiability. A self-refuting theory?

In my continuing effort to grasp the landscape of the denialist mind, I've been grappling with various contrived arguments claiming that Anthropogenic Global Warming isn't scientific because it doesn't meet the "Falsifiability" supposition made by some philosopher.  

These science skeptics never acknowledge that the process of accumulating the various lines of evidence and bits of information, (that the "AGW Theory" is built on), is chock full of validity and quality tests that do try to falsify findings and conjectures - in order to insure their soundness.

But then, it sure does seem like their base mentality is that anything demanding a reevaluation of one's perceptions is deemed a hostile threat… 
so were do we go from here?  

Whatever happened to every side trying to get at a true understand, {which demands an interest in learning and a willingness to allow the strength of the evidence to change one's closely held assumptions and convictions}?

It's all a bit overwhelming.  While I continue to wrestle with how to recount the bizarre dialogue I've had with "k" allow me to share an interesting short video.  Jens Christensen examines the basic premise of the Popperian argument.  Perhaps you'll find it helpful.  I've included notes and time signatures.

Falsifiability. A self-refuting theory?

Uploaded on May 22, 2009
This video explores the response people might have come across if mentioning the principle of falsifiability to a Christian in attempt to criticise his/her theory.

Is it reasonable to criticize the principle of falsifiability because this principle itself is NOT falsifiable?
0:40 - Karl Popper
0:50 - his goal was to determine what was pseudo-science and what was real science - not to determine truth or acceptability.
1:15 - Popper: Empirical Method not enough
Empirical being inductive proceeding from observation or experiment
1:30 - the example of Astrology
Freud, Adler...
2:55 - Explanation plot
3:10 - in contrast we have Einstein's approach...
making a prediction that would support or disprove his theory...
3:35 - Popper: The strength of a theory lies in it's vulnerability to failure, rather than it's general applicability.
4:45 - "It is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory - if we look for confirmations."

5:00 - Confirmations should count only if they are the result of predictions; that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in questions, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory - an event which would have refuted the theory."
Every "good" scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things to happen.  The more a theory forbids, the better it is.
5:25 - Christensen brings it back to his opening question: "Is it reasonable to criticize the principle of falsifiability because this principle itself is NOT falsifiable?"
5:35 - ... ??
5:50 - Popper was in the business of defining what a scientific theory was, and he seems to solve the problem that philosophers refer to as "demarkation"
6:00 - trying to define the "demarkation" between science and religion...
But things are more complicated then Popper acknowledged.
6:10 - "The principle of 'falsification' is simply not a contender for a title as a scientific theory."

6:20 - "... more interestingly, why do people, mainly Christians, think this in the first instance?  I think it is simply because they feel the principle of falsification in some way refutes their idea of a god, or in some way makes it a less acceptable theory.   

"In actual fact, it says nothing about either.  Common sense refutes the idea of a "God" though.  What they really should be worried about is how to examine the validity of their beliefs, without simply confirming them on grounds that in reality are defined so weakly that any world event could be explained by the God Hypothesis.  Naturally this is only concern if you truly are interested and prepared to change you're mind and be rational.  Until that day pseudo-science, metaphysics, and faith are ideas cursed to confirm themselves on no rational grounds until the end of time."   Jens Enzo Nyby Christensen, 2009

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