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Pabitra Mukhopadhyay


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Truths and Facts. Does Science prove anything?

There is a great deal of interest of us in examining claims of ‘truths’ and ‘facts’. In such examination there is a noticeable stress on scientifically proven facts which can be taken as fundamentally true. This is possibly because mathematics is the language of Science and we make mistake thinking mathematical proofs to be reflecting the essence of scientifically proven facts.

Does science necessarily prove anything? The way mathematics proves a proposition?

It is surprising that such a basic debate cannot be laid to rest and a conclusion arrived at even after 1934 book by Karl Popper: The Logic of Scientific Discovery.

Alan Moghissi, Matthew Amin and Connor McNulty of Institute for Regulatory Science, Alexandria, Va wrote to the editor of Science (the magazine) disagreeing with Peter Gleick and 250 members of the (US) National Academy of Sciences writing to the editor of Science : All citizens should understand some basic scientific facts. There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything.


Is there an absolutely proven scientific fact?

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    May 26 2013: Depends on what you understand with proven.

    As inductive reasoning is stating something being likely or not given certain assumptions.

    As such: science is a way to formulate your assumptions, observe, and infer from your assumptions what is likely.

    If you assume there is a reality and it is knowable through observation that is at least partly reliable, you can actually infer quite a lot of things.
    A lot of these findings are well documented and easy to verify.

    I cannot think that there are better ways to reason, especially if you want to understand reality as good as possible.

    Nothing can prove something definitely (including this statement)... so accept it and go with the amount of certainty that can be given (trough the methods of your choice, but I recommend the rational scientific way).
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      Jun 5 2013: This post showed up as the highest rated post, so I decided to reply to it, hoping it would be read and answered by the most thoughtful of answers or thoughtfully not answered, possibly even thumbs up'd.

      Quick answer to the question, does Science prove anything?


      Long answer to the question, does Science prove anything?

      First let me break down the question, "Does science prove anything?"

      I am taking science to mean something along the lines of this::
      The activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural...

      And prove to mean: to demonstrate the truth or existence of (something) by evidence or argument:

      Anything: All things that exist.

      The laws of induction and deduction are used to measure perceptual data and see if anything exists, even, let alone proof of anything.

      Basically our brain, uses its rational faculty to integrate percepts, input from the five senses or sensory input, into concepts and things.

      If we are honest about these concepts, we will see that anything we can think of, is true, because it is based on perceptual data from the real world. And since reality is objective, based on again, percepts being integrated into conceptual data, ie anything proved are the only things that can be measured. It is obvious to see that anything is something science proved. If you can't measure it, it doesn't exist.

      I would not like to argue memorized answers or ones with the context dropped, if you are trying to argue by attacking me stating that reality is subjective, please state something, using your "wildest" imagination, that cannot be proven, but please stay within the given parameters of "anything". If you can do that, then your argument is worth posting at least.
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        Jun 7 2013: Tone,

        I quite get what you are saying. The difference you and I make are only one assumption:
        "we can assume reality as a fact"
        If you assume the above, and the next (which I follow): "our sensory imput is sufficiently reliable (for percieving reality)", then I think you are completely right.

        The reason why I don't assume your assumption, (but for most practical reasons I do assume it), is that - in principle - you can even doubt that there is a reality (as we can't claim we know it completely and how it operates). This means that you need to assign at least a minimum amount of uncertainty (small, but non-zero).

        So I think we are quite on the same line
  • May 18 2013: It seems that as more knowledge is gained regarding the natural world, the more questions regarding the natural world we have. If anything is observable it is that the world as we know it is constantly changing and nothing is ever static. WE see this with the expanding universe but we also see this in our personal lives. Each day that passes consists of new opportunities and experiences that change who we are and how we psychologically navigate our environment.

    In terms of science, quantum theory supposes that all things, even reality itself is based in probability and natural processes such as gravity have the slight probability of completely changing. One day we may wake up and be gravitated towards the ground but according to quantum theory, one day we may wake up to find that gravity no longer exists. Everything thus becomes probability and it is only our human desire for concrete understandings and ordering our world that we perceive things as undisputed fact.

    The paradigm of education is the more we learn, the less we know which, in the case of science, is quite evident.
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      May 20 2013: Evan.... "...In terms of science, quantum theory supposes that all things, even reality itself is based in probability and natural processes such as gravity have the slight probability of completely changing. One day we may wake up and be gravitated towards the ground but according to quantum theory, one day we may wake up to find that gravity no longer exists..."

      While it's true that probability is used to analyze conditions in quantum physics, I don't believe the probabilities you suggest are really a main stream notion.

      You appear intelligent and young. I would like you to consider this in your lifetime (mine is almost over).

      If in the beginning there was nothing....... would there not always be nothing, having nothing to alter this situation with?
      Is it possible that because we behold a reality with our awareness that something would naturally have to always exist in order to get around the idea that nothingness is not a real possibility? In simpler words -there never was a beginning that could be derived from nothingness, as we understand it to be.

      • May 21 2013: Hi John,

        Thanks for this.

        I honestly think it depends on which school of thought one subscribes to. Materialism and pragmatism certainly suggest so. I personally am not knowledgeable enough to form an argument for one way or the other.

        I would suggest though that there is substantial evidence for the big bang theory although we don't necessarily understand it's cause. The Western notion of causality though comes from Ancient Greek philosophy, so perhaps liberating ourselves from that will allow us to think that something can indeed be derived from nothingness.
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          May 21 2013: Western, Northern, Eastern, Southern and all points in between. Our DNA indicates we are all the same. Notions can be introduced into human thought but ultimately, it can be broken down into something familiar to us all.

          Just keep it in mind. :)

  • Jun 4 2013: I'm a physicist with a PhD and working at a large federal research institute. I'm a "hobby philosopher", too.

    And I think that it is an absolutely scientifically proven fact since about two thousand years
    that we cannot know a single thing for sure. Unless we define things, like in Mathematics: that works fine.
    "I think, therefore I am" is nothing else but a (circular but still useful) definition of thinking and being. Science can only deduce consequences from presuppositions, science cannot prove that a presupposition is true and that the used logic is applicable to the real world.

    Science is striving to provide simple rules to explain our observations. And based on that rules we can make predictions. And that allows us to develop new things. The laws of physics allow us to build a rocket to go to the moon and they help us to design new computers called "smartphones". But that doesn't mean that any of them have any truth in them: they are just useful. In 1000 years people will may laugh about our primitive understanding of the universe. But even then, they will not know any truth either. It is impossible to know any truth.

    But anyway it makes sense to believe in some of the laws of physics, just to avoid bumping into walls or falling from trees. Everyone is free to choose his own believes. You just should adjust your believes to your observations.

    I'll close with a joke that will explain it plain and very simple:
    A scientist has a visitor and shows him around. He shows him a large table with dozens of little black boxes: "each of these boxes is hosting an artificial intelligence. They are living in a virtual world and I study their interactions, their believes and their culture." The visitor asks: "This is very exciting! But what is with the one black box on the workbench over there?" "Oh that one is defective. I had to remove it from the experiment. It has the firm believe that it is nothing but a black box on the desk of a scientist."
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      Jun 4 2013: Thank you. I expected to listen from people who are doing science professionally. Do you think professional scientists are much less dogmatic about infallibility of science compared to scientific minded lay people?
      • Jun 4 2013: Yes, I think so.
        Scientist do believe in the methodology of science, but not in the laws of physics.
        As soon as you take the laws of physics for granted, science is over.
        Because the whole purpose of science - as it has been nicely written down by Karl Popper - is to falsify the current theories of science.
        The physicists are not trying to prove the standard model of particle physics with the LHC at CERN, they are trying to find evidence that it is wrong! Once we find something that cannot be explained by the standard model, then we can find a better theory.

        I do actually think that the public believe that science and technology can solve all our problems is very dangerous. Because many of today's problems are actually caused by a rapid development of technology. Science is rather harmless, but the fast proliferation of new technologies in a big scale is always dangerous. Because the consequences are difficult if not impossible to predict. Who would have thought 100 years ago that burning coal and oil could do any global harm? Or 40 years ago that chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) as used in refrigerators could do any harm to anything? Once a new technology has been proliferated world-wide, then it is often not so easy to get rid of it again.
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        Jun 5 2013: Hi again, Pabitra.

        Just wondering about terminology - how would you define scientist and researcher? How would you define scientifically minded lay people?

        In my opinion a combination of all of the above plus innovation in technology can in fact (or in truth...) influence this terminology and the definitions.

        For example - we can say that Leonardo da Vinci can be defined as a scientifically minded lay person, not only an artist, if we think about his drawings of flying machines and such. Maybe he can also be viewed as an artist with a feel for innovative engineering ahead of his own century. A scientist and a researcher may look at his propositions and discard them or... improve them and make them work.

        I agree with Andreas - new technologies based and scientific discoveries, without enough well-founded, scientific, global and socioal predictive analysis of the long-term consequences, can be dangerous. On the other hand, some of the science and technology can solve our problems, but not without a proper analysis of the consequences of large-scale use of the above.

        Simulation of the consequences, a digital one, is a good idea, one of the tools for making good predictions without actually doing any harm or testing anything on the natural environment as testing itself might also do harm in the long run that can be difficult to see at first.
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          Jun 5 2013: Hi Anna, good to see you here.
          I would define a (professional) scientist as one who does science as full time and remunerative job. A researcher, in this case, is an umbrella term for having projects related to science where a scientist most often collaborate with other scientists, labs etc. (but can work solo in certain cases) with a specific goal. A scientist can be a researcher but not necessarily a researcher has to be a scientist - other fields of study can have researchers too.
          A scientific minded lay person, IMO, is one who has studied some science in schools or appreciates the scientific methods of inquiry, has values mostly based on physical realism but is not connected to science directly as a profession. I think a vast majority of people are in this category.
          There are however few exceptional people who defy this kind of classification on account of their sheer genius or talent. Some of them are inventors and visionaries. Leonardo da Vinci was among such people. I think Nicola Tesla and Ramanujam were of such kind too.
          I agree with both Andreas and you about long term predictive analysis of the consequences of a new technology. But if the technology has an immediate appeal, most often it's long term effect is ignored. Mobile phone technology is one such, I think. Moreover, in a highly complex system (here society) it is very difficult to model an intervention simply because no body is certian about the number of parameters involved.
          In my line of work, I routinely do both physical and mathematical modelling of an engineering intervention in a river in order to predict the outcome. Huge sums of money depend on such predictions, in fact. But crossing over my heart I cannot say such predictions are very accurate always.
        • Jun 6 2013: Language allows you to define words to your liking.
          But to me a scientist is _not_ someone who is well educated in the discoveries of science, but someone who applies the scientific method. And that is - simplified - just the following:
          1 - you make an observation
          2 - you find a "model", an explanation for your observation
          3 - you use your model to make predictions
          4 - you test your predictions with experiments
          5 - you make observations in your experiment
          6 - you continue with step 2.
          Many people think, that only years of study can make you a scientist. But that is dead wrong. Every child can be a scientist and Leonardo da Vinci was certainly one.
          But many people, you call them "scientific minded lay person", I would call them people educated in the results of science, they don't understand the basic principle of science:
          If you believe in your model being the truth, then you stop testing your model. And that means you stopped being a scientist.

          I need to clarify my position on long term predictive analysis: yes, today the market pressure often prevents thorough testing of new products. A drug comes too early on the market and people die. But that is not my worry. I am thoroughly convinced that it is impossible for mankind to predict the future outcome of new technology reliably enough to be on the save side. Every change in our living environment could lead to our extinction. Of course the world is changing rapidly every day and we have been successfully adapting all the time. But that does not mean that we will be able to adapt tomorrow.
          Actually I think that mankind is much more endangered today than it had been 500 years ago. We are heavily relying on modern technology already, mankind wouldn't be able to survive without it. Therefore I would not suggest to drop it :-) But we should be much slower in changing our technologies, and much more humble in our expectations of prosperity and progress. Don't expect science to rescue you once earth is screwed up ;-)
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      Jun 5 2013: The anomaly box discovered the so-called "truth"...and the truth, as you say, is impossible to know :)
      • Jun 6 2013: The "Truth" is often defined as "actual state of a matter" or "conformity with reality".
        But there is evidence that even the actual state of matter depends on the observation:
        quantum theory explains to us, that matter does not behave like we would expect it to behave. The observation itself has an effect on the state of matter and that unobserved states do behave as if they are a mixture of all possible states. Once you've studied quantum physics you should read Hans-Peter Dürr, one of the few physicists who actually do care what the physics models could mean.
        Reality isn't as simple as it appears to be and there may is no truth:
        no state of a matter independent of the observer, no reality independent of the observation.
        Of course this would have no effect on our daily life: there is no "free will" either in the sense that a person could make any decision independent of its environment, but we need to postulate it to be able to hold the person responsible for his/her actions.

        But even if there is a "truth": humans would never be able to identify it as such.
        We can believe in it. Or not.

        PS: I don't think that any other entity, like an anomaly box, could identify it either ;-)
        But that is just my personal believe :-)
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          Jun 6 2013: Thanks Andreas and Pabitra,

          According to the disambiguated explanations provided, I must be a scientist of some uncategorised sort. What a shocking revelation :)

          And a couple of weeks ago I drew a solution that might save airplane users from exposure to radiation. Leonardo would be proud of me. I lost the picture though, but remember the idea, would probably be unpopular among budget airlines, so I'll keep my head down :)

          None of the text in the comment above is my fault as there is no free will. It can be defined as "actual state of the matter" (truth) but not "conformity with reality" - no conformity above, I should probably conform and go and do the dishes instead of drawing improvements to airplanes. But that's just a personal belief of other boxes on the desk.

          Best wishes :)
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    Jun 3 2013: nothing proves anything.

    like religious belief, science is just one path open to you for making sense of the world. people are free (if they're lucky) to choose which version they prefer because all of them are absolutely right and none of them are.

    problems only arise when people insist on other people seeing things the same way they themselves do. this never works and is unnecessary for a person to believe in something.
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    May 28 2013: "I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I'm not absolutely sure about anything."

    - Richard Feynman

    Science can prove theories wrong by showing that they don't agree with experiment.
    However, science can never definitively prove anything right - it's always possible to come along and show that a theory is wrong, that an experiment doesn't agree.
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      May 29 2013: This is a very good point. The job of a scientist is not to prove but to disprove. Science is evolution of ideas - "survival of the fittest", so to speak.
      • May 29 2013: everyone should go base on there own perspective on things, science to me is far more understanding than the whole world. first of all when people of this earth experiment externally but i experiment internally, do you want to know the equation for the universe?
      • May 29 2013: the equation for the universe is ( i = 1i ) ( infinite becomes one, therefore one becomes infinite)
        this is the same equation but in your understanding

        (infinite = 1 infinitely)
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    May 24 2013: This debate has completed almost half of its allotted time. I think there is a substantial majority towards the idea that science does NOT after all prove anything with absolute certainty.
    I think it may be necessary here to clarify that this debate does not seek to under value science, it's achievements and its contribution to human society. At best, it may seek to place science at a practical and functional basis and remove some dogma that it may gather in the process.
    It is useless to project technology and its success as any point of argument in this debate, it will be like projecting missionary schools, nursing/care giving, art and architecture as points of argument in favor of faith based religion's relevance in life.
    Let us focus on the key question : Does science prove anything as absolute truth? Or is it the real goal of science?
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      May 24 2013: First - we are limited to humanity standards of knowledge
      Second - researchers and theorists and writers, in a collective community of academics, make the standards
      Third - we cannot know absolutes without first objectives. Objectivity comes from the second clause.
      Fourth - an absolute truth, is true within itself, therefore there must be various ways to find that truth
      Fifth - science should be regarded no differently as any other field of study, therefore SCIENCE is not unitary in any conceptualization - especially since we have HARD and SOFT sciences.
      Fifth additional - just like math, art, history, social studies, etc. There are MANY ways to practice and view these fields of study, to believe that one field is better at answering questions than the next misses the mark on first and second clause.

      The real goal of "science" (I am so tired of overstating this word for argument sakes) is no different than any other field of study - we all want to KNOW, and do so in our unique methods, this does not make any method better than others but different. This whole debate comes underway with the scientist who believe that physicist and biology are the perfect sciences to build off of... Well those thinkers are holding us back collectively. People like the neo-atheist who CLEARLY are biased with their beliefs in their writings, but are still championed because of peer approval, which allows the review to pass.

      So much is not understood for "what is science?" as far as the philosophy of science... All these conversations seem to miss a lot of marks when it comes to community and consensus. Even those things are corrupted by ideas of human nature and the REAL FACT of how corrupt politics are... and who funds developments and research?!?!!? Department of Defense? Military? National budgets? These are just as important to note as what is the output of the research and development. How and why they were developed and researched... in light of what?!?! Profit? Maybe
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        • May 25 2013: Science is "organized knowledge" who's knowledge? GODS knowledge, we have the power over it by understanding it. without the "understanding" we would not have power over it. GOD gave us the understanding in birth for a reason. so we may be at play. think of the universe full of LEGO"S that are smaller than one another and bigger For GOD has gave his children the understanding of them to be at play so his children may put these LEGO"S together to discover and claim. For mankind does not create only discover and claim, "But i speak Thy TRUTH, unless it is written nothing can be created, so be it thy discovery who may claim" Amen
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        Jun 2 2013: Nicholas, I think what you say is almost totally wrong and beside the question Pabitra is asking. (but maybe it's semantics)

        1) I don't agree that there is such a thing as "human standards of knowledge". there are limits to human understanding. Knowledge already has claims pertaining the outer reality and is not bound by humans.
        2) It does not matter who makes which standards unless you think authority is a valid argument for acceptance. If you happen to make standards that are better, it might be proven and might become accepted by a broader range of people.
        3) what are "first objectives"? I think you mean that certainty can only come form certain things? While this appears to be true intuitively, you might want to check Shannon http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Mathematical_Theory_of_Communication (I don't know, as I don't get the meaning of what you are trying to say)
        4) I think that what you claim here is not necessary true. It might. I can assume that a particle is measure-able in more than one way (Higgs bosons are inferred through a whole variety of observations, as are neutrino's, and those are about the hardest to measure)
        5) I completely reject that there is a difference between all sciences other than the measurement tools and the validity and reliability of those tools. Furthermore, a field of study, in order to be proper, needs to be scientific. Unless you refer to study of a book, an art or a law in "as-is" method: just acquiring the literal information that is given.
        5b) I still claim that science is the best way, and the best documented way to approximate certainty or knowledge about this universe we live in. It is verifiable and transparent (if not, it can be challenged as not sufficiently documented or proven claim) , as any other method is not (otherwise, it would be incorporated as a scientific tool).
        It is clearly way better than revelation, intuition, learning something written or agreed by authority by heat.
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          Jun 2 2013: As usual I'd just like to say the I agree with you Christophe, for all the reasons listen above.
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          Jun 2 2013: My arguments are in the attempt to be truly objective, which requires making humans part of the equation, not apart.

          1. How can that statement be true if we do not have another species of humanoids in which to compare our research and development to? We have standards to knowledge bound to each culture of science that must be followed in order to progress. These standards are made by tradition of men (mostly) and therefore are our limitations in respected fields of study. Knowledge doesn't exist without first a human or series of humans looking for that knowledge, and although it may exist before we discover it, it still must go through human filters of already knowledge to be categorized and built upon... A process in which knowledge never stands without a human being. A human has standards, whether social or instinctual, we cannot go beyond that level of understanding (of ourselves in relation to the universe) and believe we can be practical with such knowledge.
          2. Authority is a valid argument - expertise should be respected, but by no means the only source of knowledge
          3. "We cannot know absolutes without first objective [truths]" - my bad // But, the link you shared is part of cognitive science in respects to A.I and brain-mapping! Which in a recent paper I read (I'll have to find it) the argument for A.I research was to figure advance theories for computers to communicate, not just one with itself, but many with others. The premise was based off of the fact humans solve problems better in groups than by themselves (looking at a website like twitter with hashtags). So,for computers to talk: first step creating a language for us to share, goals or project to work on, attempt to complete until done.
          3.a. I do not see objectivity and absolutes as being the same concept, like most do. Objectivity is limited to humanity, as it requires consensuses, communities, and/or consistencies in order to be true. Absolutes are true within themselves.
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          Jun 2 2013: 4. Excellent counter-example Chris! But wasn't the Higgs Boson always just theorized to be true until recently? Before that historic day, the Boson existed in phy sicformulas which NEEDED this symbol for development. So the objective truth we believed was just an assumed particle, is then justified by advanced machinery and visuals to be seen as more and become more so objectively true. We came to the truth in more ways than one, but what is the absolute nature of this particle, is still under scrutiny - there is little to be done with objective knowledge as of now, for we only know part of the absolute truth.

          5. So you reject there are differences while there are differences in method of research? Indeed, all sciences want to do the same thing, but how they do so is not universal, it can't be. Even historians of literature or geologist have to abide by similar codes that a physicist does for academic sakes (peer review), but this in no ways suggest their methods are similar in anyway. The difference between SOFT and HARD science exist for good reason - social and brain sciences are still figuring out what terminology/conceptuals to identify the problems with, while math and bio-sciences have figured out terminology/conceptuals for decades and are now able to worry more about the expansion of theory on hard numbers and facts. By these ideas of soft and hard science alone, makes for the methods to be vastly different. Two sides of the same coin, yes, but different attitudes.
          5b. I clearly do not want to dismiss science as important, but I am attempting to put that truth into a different perspective. The overstatement of the word "science" goes too far, too commonly, today. Without realizing that "science" is dependent on 3.a. and the idea of community being more influential than truth. Kuhn should beat Popper in the final say, always. If science is to be the best, than science should still be understand no differently than any other field of study!
    • MR T

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      May 24 2013: Fair point! my comments have veered away a bit.

      Does science prove anything as absolute truth? Close as your gonna get without being religious.

      Is it the real goal of science? ... The goal is the answer to whatever question the scientist poses. Whether its food security or medicine, the two don't necessarily have to be linked in some greater whole that is 'the struggle to find absolute truth'. Its just practical.
  • MR T

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    May 24 2013: Wow, the amount of times someone that doesn't understand what science is has said to me

    "science is just theories anyway' or 'science is never 100% so nothing science finds is true' or 'science is just another way of thinking about things'

    Science is a PROCESS, you have an idea, conduct an experiment in a LOGICAL way, get a result then publish so other people can repeat the experiment and scrutinise you.

    So far it is the ONLY decent process humanity has discovered for investigating the world around us and producing reliable, useful information. There is a reason the technology in hospitals or modern computers isn't made by reading horoscopes or the bible. Would you deny it to be TRUE that both these devices save lives in some way or another?
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      • MR T

        • +1
        May 24 2013: The origin of the word science is quite irrelevant, the meaning of words can change over time, this discussion is about what science is now.

        Spot on! science is the main process used for advancing technology. Its more of a general statement I made using specific examples but what Im saying is that I'm tired of hearing people so easily 'poo poo' a methodology that gives the world so much!

        I can quite confidently say that science/technology has saved more lives than say horoscopes, as I can think of a million ways in which science does on a daily basis, a million more than for horoscopes, ask your self the same question, how many can you think of for each?

        Of course I cannot say that is absolute 100% fact as with anything but if everyone had to note that at the end of every statement, they would waste a lot of time!
        • May 26 2013: Science is "organized knowledge" who's knowledge? GODS knowledge, we have the power over it by understanding it. without the "understanding" we would not have power over it. GOD gave us the understanding in birth for a reason. so we may be at play. think of the universe full of LEGO"S that are smaller than one another and bigger For GOD has gave his children the understanding of them to be at play so his children may put these LEGO"S together to discover and claim. For mankind does not create only discover and claim, "But i speak Thy TRUTH, unless it is written nothing can be created, so be it thy discovery who may claim" Amen
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      May 24 2013: @MR T: I think it is highly probable that Peter Gleick understands what science is. You can google his background. It is also highly probable that Karl Popper understood what science is. I did not start this debate on the reactions of common folks. Why do you think these experts are so doubtful about the absolute knowledge of science?
      • MR T

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        May 24 2013: Its my belief that its not possible to have absolute knowledge about anything at any time, science of course is no different. The essence of that is that we are fundamentally human and limited in our capabilities.

        Say you have an experiment and the result of which has a 99.99% certainty. You can say what you have found is likely to be fact, this is useful as now you can use it to make decisions. Whether it is absolute truth or not is irrelevant, if you know something has 99.99% certainty of being correct then it is pretty useful.

        In my opinion the only big limit of the scientific process is that it cant tell you what questions you should be asking in the first place.

        Lastly who is saying the results of science are absolute anyway?
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          May 24 2013: You are talking about uncertainty on account of observational limitations. I think science has revealed uncertainty at a more fundamental level - where things are uncertain even if there is infinite precision of observation.
          If things are that uncertain fundamentally, the ideas like 'correct' and 'pretty useful' become subjective. I mean it can be pretty useful to believe that there is a supernatural God who is looking after our actions - useful because that can help to maintain a moral order.
          I have referred a link in my OP. I think it gives a fair enough idea about who is saying results of science are absolute.
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    May 22 2013: Yea.
    Science Proved a lot.
    I could go On stating alot of things that science proved but i won't
    Just know that Science Proves a whole lot of things.
    • Comment deleted

      • May 25 2013: Science is "organized knowledge" who's knowledge? GODS knowledge, we have the power over it by understanding it. without the "understanding" we would not have power over it. GOD gave us the understanding in birth for a reason. so we may be at play. think of the universe full of LEGO"S that are smaller than one another and bigger For GOD has gave his children the understanding of them to be at play so his children may put these LEGO"S together to discover and claim. For mankind does not create only discover and claim, "But i speak Thy TRUTH, unless it is written nothing can be created, so be it thy discovery who may claim" Amen
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    May 19 2013: Science is the proposal of truths that can be explained experimentally. We can place a living human in an airless container and see that a lack of oxygen, for a certain duration of time, will cause the human to cease to live.

    Because such experiments with humans are unlawful, animals, having similar metabolic functions to humans beings, are used and the conclusion is always the same. The animals die.

    The scientific process can prove some conjunctures, that are completely incontestable, without the use of mathematics: if you drop a solid object having substantial mass, in the earth's gravity field, in an environment devoid of air, it will fall to the bottom of the container. This is a indisputable fact of the scientific process.

    “Science is both a body of knowledge and a process. In school, science may sometimes seem like a collection of isolated and static facts listed in a textbook, but that's only a small part of the story. Just as importantly, science is also a process of discovery that allows us to link isolated facts into coherent and comprehensive understandings of the naturalworld.“~ttp://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/whatisscience_01

    “Often math is seen as dealing with entities that have parallels in the natural world but don't themselves exist in that world. Unlike, say, ants or atoms, the number two is not generally viewed as a physical entity, but as a powerful abstraction that can be used to describe physical entities. On the other hand, one could also argue that mathematical abstractions arise directly from the natural world — that the fact that two ants plus two ants yields a set of four ants is simply a description of how objects exist in the natural world.” ~ http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/mathematics

    "When one wants to drive a nail into a piece of wood, it is better to use a hammer instead of pliers, even though it is possible to accomplish the same task with either tool." ~ John Ray
    • May 20 2013: While science is a logical derivation to name a rational process of cause and effect that all phenomena is acknowledged to follow, had of necessity to depend on numerical logic to be precise. Primarily, while religion too professed to understand and define the same manifestation process, its emphasis on a preordained logic, led the scientific researcher to counter it with an accurate proof, which mathematics was supposed to do. But the rub was the mathematical process itself. In order to solve complex problems, a shortcut was introduced that led to an approximation at instantaneous levels, which took away the rationality of numerical logic. It is a fact that experimental discoveries achieved extraordinary insight into natures ways but converting the same into profound theoretical principle met its nemesis in uncertainty and inaccuracy that could be resolved only through statistics , a name for averaging out inaccuracy. Intellectual clarity based on absolute objectivity could have saved the day, but the mad rush to fame and name has left the acme of a scientific theory of theories bereft and orphaned. Its not too late for Sankhya has what science today deserted and it can bring in a paradigm shift to gain the Shangrilla that humanity deserves so badly.
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        May 20 2013: “While science is a logical derivation...”~ G.

        I disagree. As I demonstrated previously, Scientific conclusions can be reached with little or no math whatsoever.

        “Primarily, while religion too professed to understand and define the same manifestation process...”~ G.

        The “Reverend” Dr Robert Stirling -a Scottish “clergyman”- invented the Stirling engine. His knowledge of heat entropy and mathematics was reverently limited. He was able to understand the processes involved in creating the engine that used temperature differentials as it's source of power. It was his only contribution the the scientific process. He used simple trial and error (and some say prayer), based on an inkling of thought about how the process worked.

        “ In order to solve complex problems, a shortcut was introduced that led to an approximation at instantaneous levels, which took away the rationality of numerical logic.”~ G.

        Einstein solved complex problems by reducing them to simple algebraic equations.

        The function 1/x implies a condition whereby as x becomes increasingly large, 1/x approaches the value zero, but can never be zero. How can statistics resolve our axiomatic inclination that 1/x will eventually reach zero, yet, by mathematical rules is not allowed to? How is it possible, with mathematics to average out the inaccuracies that prevent 1/x from reaching the value of zero? Is math itself flawed?

        “Intellectual clarity based on absolute objectivity could have saved the day, but the mad rush to fame and name has left the acme of a scientific theory of theories bereft and orphaned.” ~ G.

        I beg to differ. We have landed on the moon and other planets. Something is working correctly. A unified field theory is still possible in the future.

        Sankhya is a tool, nothing more. It has no God-like elements nor is it a path to pure understanding.
        Just ask Pythagoras and his buddies.

        John Moonstroller.
        • May 21 2013: Exactly what I feared, Faith and belief creeping in, surely throws out absolute objectivity with all its derivatives or tools . The principle of self similarity contains geometries of every kind from which the most elegant PHO state (which Physics has yet to find) was derived thousands of years before western man started organised articulation. Amen
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          May 21 2013: I think you misstated something a bit here that you might want to correct. You write simultaneously of x becoming increasingly large and of x reaching, or not reaching, the value zero. These two conditions must be inconsistent. I believe you meant that as x becomes increasingly large, 1/x approaches zero.

          The idea that Einstein was not good with math is, you will find, a myth.
  • May 15 2013: What scientific facts?

    There is not a single thing i learned in school in the 80's that is now correct.

    I mean everything. Bio, Geo, Phys, History. And Astronomy is the worst.
    I am studying asteroid mining, and can tell you, there is not a single fact, physical sample,or mathematical model that supports disc accreation theory. That reverberates all the way thru cosmology.

    Most science now, except some bio, is ALL math now. That isn't reality, it is an easily falsifiable fantasy.

    We can't even find the missing electrostatic energy form, here on earth, or as dark energy.
    Following the quantum zoo escape isn't leading us anywhere.

    The general public is starting to realize, that all new sci discoveries, are shoehorned into a few influential professors worldviews. That is more of Confucianism than science.
    • May 16 2013: Absolutely correct question.The reason is clear for as of now human knowledge is based on an unidirectional rationality that's called a left brained syndrome . Holistic thinking needs the right bran to collect and sum up while the unbridled left brain gallops away into infinity. Fundamental need today is find a fundamental intellectual platform to know that facts start from there. Surprisingly the Vedic intellectuals found that platform as the axiomatic base from which to source all human scientific derivations following the principle of self similarity and scale in-variance that was not tolerant of human intervention with irrational and adhoc substitutions. Calculus the god of scientific mathematics, starts on a blunder. Two simultaneous parameters that compulsorily has a zero time interval gives an asinine answer that is beyond this Universe.
      Your accretion theory will work if you use Sankhya Unified theory based on axioms and operated by self-similar and scale invariant principles. Accretion or solidification in space operates on a simple parameter. Space is not empty nor is it passive. Its a cauldron of dynamic activity called the perpetual harmonic oscillatory state (PHO) and new to Physics. (Cern was blundering to find it) Accretion takes place at harmonic resonance and in a three dimensional continuum space is. As a quick one if you divide the reciprocal of so called Newtons gravity constant by 22400 or the so called molar volume value, you will get the square of the interval that binds matter in space. As that interval reduces the binding / density increases. If you want to know the whole caboodle, visit http://www.kapillavastu.com/index.html and read the abstract and the PHO state PDF files . You will know that gravity is just the PHO state in transmigration when the resonance is broken in the sea of stuff that makes up space.
      • May 16 2013: Science claims speed of light theory in a vacuum on earth or as close to a vacuum as possible. As you point out and science itself points out, through its earth to moon and back, test of light, light does not hold together in space.

        It seems science loves teaching stupidity. Gravitational lensing and gravity itself cannot be defended. Ted denies me a reply button, because I challenge teds desires for mediocrity.

        Ted also issues many challenges, but they refuse to take challenges. Very hypocritical.
        • May 17 2013: and science knows well about the variations of light in space. so well actually that we can now measure a few millimeters change in star light years away, even through the shimmering of our atmosphere. that is accuracy to a billionth of a degree, and you say science is stupid?
      • May 17 2013: I see no reply button to your statement or to Ben Jarvis. Why not!

        Also,--Less than 5 minutes ago: When I first posted to Ted, the --edit/delete button appeared, but after awhile, I would see the reply button on those posts and I was able to reply to my own posts. Now that several people have replied, I see. Maybe it was a glitch I experienced. Once I see how something works, when it changes, I try to move with the change. When it changed and I got no response, also what seemed no way to reply to others and more, while being heavily censored, I challenge, to find out.

        Get over myself? I'm just trying to find someone that can talk on my level. By you innuendo, you seem self assured, would you care to defend science, with the full help of the net against me--with respect to gravitational lensing or light theory or gravity?

        Tell ya what, find the smartest scientist in those areas and I will at the least, challenge them, but more likely stump them.

        Take my challenges and find out.
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    May 14 2013: If we want to ask if Science can prove anything we should talk about what a proof actually is.

    Lets talk about truth first.

    Truth results from a thought construct of definitions, before i can argue wether something is true or not ill have to define terms or circumstances under which an observation is true. As such truth results from a number of rules which we as humans defined inorder to be able to communicate information.
    If i define light of the wavelength of 680nm as being blue. And i then measure light of said wavelength and say this light is blue its perfectly true (even though light of this wavelength was previously (before i defined it as being blue) defined as being infrared) as such there can only be truth within a set of prepositions and truth is not an absolute its in itself a concept created by us which roots so deep in our beliefes that we came to expect some kind of cosmic truth (or lets call it natural truth).

    What we defined as being a proof (let me citate wiki): "A proof is sufficient evidence or an argument for the truth of a proposition."

    If measure the wavelength the data which results from measuring is my proof however it needs to fullfill the requirements of what we defined as true.
    In the mathematical sense we defined the set of rules as such there can be a definite proof. In natural science however
    nature steps in and here it gets ugly. We dont know the rules of nature infact we only know the results and they are always true.
    For example we observe an apple falling off a tree this happening is in some sense the expression of truth (sorry to get a bit philosophical) as the apple wouldnt fall off the tree if the rules of nature didnt allow for it.
    As a consequence we cant observe the "not truth" of nature as such there is no "not truth" so whats the use of the concept of truth when talking about nature anyways? -none id say.
    • May 14 2013: Truth as facts is identical with the state of reality or real happenings. Jump off a cliff and analyse that event. If the derivation of that process by man's intellectual abilities is exact EVERY time it becomes a proof. If the derivation of that process is axiomatic (the way cause and effect works in proportional terms) then it is correct for it is not dependent on man inserting data to complete it. Human thinking has evolved through experience and hence is not axiomatic. Take the concept of velocity so called velocity of light. Its an aberation. In a substantial field of something there can be no velocity like a car travreling on a road. Its transmigration of pressure from an interactive state that is not balanced. Hence the oscillatory rate of that pressure transmigration in the case of light is an AXIOMATIC value . NO ONE CAN CHANGE IT . See http://www.kapillavastu.com/index.html and explore the most accurate and factual theory ever created by a man named Kapilla 33000 years back as Sankhya. He left nothing to be discovered by so called modern man
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      May 14 2013: Interesting explanation.
      An important task of epistemology, closely related to defining and explaining truth, is to develop criteria of truth which allow us to reliably and consistently distinguish true from false claims. By your explanation, I am wondering if it will be false to say a light of 681 nm wavelength as blue.
      It gets very confusing because empiricists will define truth one way while existentialists will define it another way. Some say truth corresponds with reality while some say it doesn't.
      From what you describe as truth and proof, it appears science is not a fit candidate to base a belief system on.
      What is your take on that?
      • May 14 2013: Great analysis. Pabitra. Language is not a dependable medium to convey facts in reality. its fuzzy, inexact, illogical structure and context ridden. Number counts AS a RATIO are real, verifiable, precise, not time bound and extrapolation is logical and so axiomatic, which means it facilitates agreement without facetious arguments etc. Even animals are aware of numerical values for a dog will search for the sixth pup that does not return while 5 have. Truth in the sense of Universal accountability is one of balance . Unbalance changes the factual situation every instant whereas a balanced state maintains the same value over a period of time so it is accounted for . If it persists for all times it becomes a fact. Humans or all living entities do not have the continuity of existence to confirm facts as a part of their experience. Hence the only dependable parameter that has validiity by human consent are axioms for they cannot be disproved. Therefor deriving every cause and effect cycle of change in nature based on axioms gives it permanent acceptability. It becomes divine in human emotional terms. Science is a logic that pursues the cause and effect cycle in reality to its end. But Physics is unable because of a mathematical lacuna . Its the hierarchy disease in calculus. Two events occurring at the same instant has a zero time interval and any ratio based on that gives infinity. But that is not TRUE at all in reality. On the surface of the Earth ALL events are simultaneous at a particular moment in reality. The current mathematics cannot trace the cause and effect cycle of all the humans at that instant. But the law of self similarity in a connected medium (space) can do so. This is done as the swabhava or self similar principle. Blue is human classification (error ridden) but in nature it is 3/8th ratio of an interactive cycle.
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          May 15 2013: If by science we are attempting to understand the nature of reality and if science is partially succeeding in finding and formalizing it - there is one tacit assumption in that. Reality is one of a kind - it is invariant. If we take it that truth corresponds to reality, we are then talking about 'the' truth, not merely truths. This is one experiential paradox because reality is clearly relative.

          The axiomatic number counts of Samkhya, which you propose to be giving an axiomatic verifiability of absolute precision is impressive but not free from the paradox I see. In fact the more precise it gets the more it runs the risk of failing to be a true description of reality. I think that is true for any axiomatic system of study including mathematics.

          I may be wrong, but nature does not seem to exist in any precision to me. It does not conform with the perfect and it appears that nature allows possibilities of right, wrong and any superposed states between the two whenever we define one aspect of it.

          A decimal number system is one of many imaginable and it is not the simplest even. Why binary system, for example, cannot be argued in a similar fashion.

          I know of Samkhya just not in sufficient details so my questions may sound shallow :)
  • Jun 9 2013: Science is the best tool people have in regards to obtaining answers about the universe.
    It's not perfect, but it is our most reliable source of information.
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    Jun 7 2013: All so-called "revealed wisdom" should be treated with utmost skepticism. I am reminded of the great quote by Thomas Paine: "Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication-- after that it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it can not be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to ME, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him."

    To actually believe the ramblings of notoriously barbaric, self-anointed prophets requires the utmost credulity! When reading stories of chariots of fire, resurrections and flights to heaven on the back of winged horses, we must ask, "Which is more likely? That the event actually happened, or the individual telling of it was mistaken?" Given that none of us have witnessed these and so many other "wonders," we must reasonably conclude that they never occurred. As Carl Sagan put it, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
    • Jun 9 2013: Allah does not reveal to every human being. He provides guidance through His Prophets who are also humans like us. This has been happening since Adam was born. We can't force Allah to change his ways of doing things. He is all-wise, All-knowing. Secondly, barbaric, self-appointed prophets? I think we should be fair. No Prophet has ever been babaric. They were blessing for humanity. They taught us all good things in life. They fought back against some of us who were barbaric for the humanity. Thirdly, no one was self appointed Prophet. All were appointed by Allah as his representatives to guide the humanity. The followers of existing Prophet knew who was the next Prophet coming. The Christians knew the next Prophet was Muhammad. No self appointed Prophet can survive for long. Fourthly, it is not right to say "not seen, not existing at all". Did you see your grand-grand parents? They existed after all. We do need guidance. Our intellect can take us to some distance through rational thinking, but to be sure moving on the right path, only Divine Guidance provides that 100 % surety. Al-Quran begins where Science ends. Let us combine the two.
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    Jun 4 2013: yes it does. no it doesn't.
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    Jun 4 2013: Science proves everything. First comes the theory. Then comes the Science. Then comes the Engineering. Then comes the Apple iPad. If you object to science, get a horse and drive a wagon to work. Give up cell phones and go back to key telegraph. If you object to science stop watching TV. Science made TV possible.

    If you don't like science or believe that Science contains both proof and the possibility for a better tomorrow -- fine! Go to Ohio and live with the Amish. They are wonderful people, but they live with 19th century technology.
    • Jun 4 2013: I agree that science can prove certain things, but I think you are coming out too strong right here. First, some comments that you made could be offensive to certain people. Second, science cannot prove everything.

      Can science prove God's existence? Well, you might say yes, because you sound like a person that just loves science(no offense) but we cannot prove God's existence by using science. There are three ways of knowing in our lives. First one is physical example, second one is using our mind to reason, third one is using our heart. God is known by using our heart.
      I am not even religious and I agree with certain things of certain religions.

      Also, there are a lot of things in this world that science cannot prove, or cannot prove with the level of science that we possess right now. The most prominent example might be, "Can science prove why we were created?". I do not think science will be able to do that. (Just my opinion)

      To claim that science proves everything, that is something really strong to say. I hope you are willing to reconsider your comment after reading my reply.

      Thanks, I did not write this reply to offend you.
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        Jun 4 2013: No offense taken. I'm just sharing an opinion. And I hope that I have given you no offense.
        • Jun 4 2013: No offense taken. Just wanted to point out some stuff! It is important that we share opinions.
  • Jun 3 2013: "Is there an absolutely proven scientific fact?"

    Yes, the fact that you exist. If you didn't then you wouldn't be here to question it.

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      Jun 3 2013: Aww, there is nothing scientific in my existence. Or is there? :)
      • Jun 3 2013: The fact that you exist if an absolutely proven fact that you have just proved to yourself by asking the question. - read up on some Rene Descartes :)
        • Jun 3 2013: However, it is not scientifically proven. Taking it literally, you cannot prove something scientifically - using the scientific method.
      • Jun 4 2013: Nothing else but science, only science and all of science if you define science as the application of axiomatic logic where self similarity as the operational mode exists. It means that it is untouched by human imagination let loose.
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    Jun 2 2013: There are laws of nature that exist which scientist agree on, like evolution and the inability to create/destroy "matter," but these laws are ancient to philosophy. Heraclitus "all is water" anybody? All is change... change doesn't equate to evolution some how? Also the idea is Asian... Very much so involved with their understanding of Chi and Chakras, and overall holistic philosophies.

    The Hindu Gods of destruction, creation AND preservation... the idea of checks and balances on a celestial scale... not as fluent here with the theology but I recall someone discussing concepts of 'matter' as more than just physical but ideas also; ideas are material too and follow the same laws as "matter."

    My point in bringing up various philosophies and beliefs is simple - to believe THIS IS THE BEST, gives little impression that one should look else where for thoughts. To really assume "science" is the know-all and ends-all entity of man, is primitive to me. It shows how we ENJOY repeating history. Demonstrates how much ego truly is a problem. But most of all it proves we need to be more collective now than ever before, and to do so is to drop these preconceived notions that one process can trump the rest. By looking at all the processes available, one may truly know which is the best for themselves and perhaps even society.
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      Jun 2 2013: I have a feeling that the description of reality does not have to be so esoteric as super-string theory suggests. It appears to me like we have built a house on a weak foundation and now adding props to sustain the structure so that the whole structure does not collapse.
      But it's just a feeling.
    • MR T

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      Jun 3 2013: I agree its wise to take a step back and think about things in different ways, however what happens when approaching problems through processes such as 'Chi' is put into practice?

      Heres a short list of some of the biggest problems facing mankind today:

      Food security
      Water security
      Climate change
      Rapidly increasing population

      I'd like to look at ALL the processes available for finding solutions to these problems aside from science:

      To begin (I would think) its necessary for any process hoping to address these problems to:

      1. Quantify the problem

      What else would you think an alternative process would need to do? and how would it work?

      (EDIT: I just realised the extent of these problems has been discovered by scientific means and this will have affected our perception of them, perhaps we would barley be aware at all if it were not for scientific reports, so I guess my questions are biased from the outset)
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        Jun 3 2013: "I agree its wise to take a step back and think about things in different ways, however what happens when this is put into practice?"

        I assume only positive outcomes. Check out writers and philosophers who discuss topics of urbanism and poststructuralism - these people are not exactly scientist but are the ones who think about these problems...so I ask you, what does your interpretation of "science" have to say about a constantly evolving problem? How do we resolve issues that do not even exist yet, with a hypothesis? Seems counter intuitive to make a plan about something (like society) that is not fully apparent, but it seems productive to already have a multidisciplinary attitude and mindset when facing a problem that is new in the moment.

        Your questions are biased indeed.
  • Jun 1 2013: If science cannot prove facts but disprove them. Cant we indirectly proof fact A, by disproving its negation not-A?

    If this is possible, why does it still makes sense to say that we cannot prove anything?
    • MR T

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      Jun 2 2013: It can't disprove them completely, that is the point.
    • Jun 4 2013: A scientific theory allows you to make predictions. You can test the predictions with experiments. If the experiments show other results than predicted, then the theory must be wrong. But if the experiments confirm the predictions, that does not mean the theory is right! Because there could be a different theory, making the same predictions. And there could be other predictions that have either not been formulated or no experiment has been made to check them, that will eventually prove the theory to be wrong.
      Logic does not really help you here, because there is no useful negation of an equation.
      If you prove that E = mc^2 is wrong, then you know that E != mc^2 , which is really useless.
  • Jun 1 2013: Yes! the fact that we do not have all the variables yet, and probably never will!
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    May 31 2013: "Is there an absolutely proven scientific fact?"
    An obscure question at first glance, but the more I think about it the more valid it seems to become.
    For the sake of keeping things relevant I'm interpreting the question as "Can the scientific method prove anything?"
    The scientific method works in the sense that it may help determine a proximate cause. For example "Why does water boil?" You can use the scientific method to determine that pure water boils once it reaches the temperature of 100 degrees celsius at 1 atmospheric pressure. Yet that only leads to another question "Why does water boil at 100 degrees celsius at?" Once again, with the use of (A much more complex) scientific method you can conclude "It does this because it takes the energy of 100 degrees Celsius to break all of the hydrogen bonds in the water." Once again you can continue to ask "Why do all of the hydrogen bonds break with the energy of 100 degrees Celsius?" And so on...

    It seems the flaw with the modern scientific method is that it works like a chain (or something with more variables like a pyramid, house of cards, ect..)
    Scientific knowledge builds upon itself using previously obtained knowledge. If a presumption previously concurred with the same method is proved wrong, then all facts which depend on that now disproven conclusion lose all credibility as well.

    However observed results are indeed logically factual information. If an experiment can be repeated, get the same results and never fail, then it's as much a fact as a mathematical equation. To claim that it's not a scientific fact that water boils at 100 degrees is like claiming 2+2 does not = 4.
    Then again, this all depends on the first and most natural assumption that the logic cultivated by the human mind is flawless and truthful. And honestly, I don't know how the scientific method could address that question.
    • MR T

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      Jun 2 2013: Thats an interesting way of thinking about it, I have to say though that water doesn't always boil at 100C infact its quite probable that it rarely does, it depends on air pressure, your measuring equipment etc..
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        Jun 3 2013: Haha, you are correct. I'm attempting to address the point that you can get consistent results if you have constant variables, that things are not random and thus can be proved or disproved.
        Thanks for mentioning that, if I wanna make a valid point it's important to have correct information!
        ( Notice I made a slight edit.)
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    May 31 2013: Hi Pabitra
    You focus on the statement "science never absolutely proves anything." What you are missing is that science can disprove things. Since we can make science in areas where new information may change the results, we accept the idea that new information may change what is considered to be a fact. But many scientifically proven facts have been true for as long as there has been science. But still, maybe a new invention or discovery will add a new factor that will change our understanding.
    But when science does prove that something is false, it is far more difficult to believe that a new discovery will make it true.
    Maybe science never absolutely proves anything, but if you believe something that science has disproved, then you are wrong. We have the right to believe what we believe. But that does not make us correct. It does not give us the right to demand that our opinion be seen as valid as any other.
    You ask, "Is there an absolutely proven scientific fact?" There are thousands of them. For example: Why is the sky blue? Because the atmospheric nitrogen gas absorbs energy from many wavelengths of light but releases this energy in blue frequencies only.
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      May 31 2013: Dear Jon Miner,
      I hope you have noticed that I cited a link to show that the same question is present even within the scientific community. The purpose of having this debate, as far as I am concerned, is to examine how we popularly understand the working of science, its process and goal and if that is exactly what science is, professionally.

      I am having problem accepting the observation that sky is blue as a proven scientific fact. I shall agree that it is common knowledge but not proven scientific fact. We humans evolved in a planet at a particular distance from the sun such that our eyes can 'see' a given range of wavelength of all radiations by the sun. An intelligent life on a planet at a different distance from sun and containing similar proportions of atmospheric nitrogen may see an entirely different sky.

      An absolutely proven fact is that on a euclidean plane the squares of base and height of a right angled triangle will always be equal to the square of the hypotenuse.
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        Jun 1 2013: One of the tools of chemistry is that certain chemicals burn with certain colors. For example if you burn table salt you get a yellow flame. It is a scientifically proven fact that when an electron in a higher energy state in nitrogen drops to a lower energy state, a photon of excess energy is released with a frequency that is in the blue color range. This is a repeatable experiment. So the idea that it is common knowledge but not proven is in error.
        Other gasses in Earth's atmosphere also give off other colors, but nitrogen is the most common gas in Earth's atmosphere and its color is dominant. On other planets with other mixtures you would get other sky colors.
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        Jun 1 2013: "An absolutely proven fact is that on a euclidean plane the squares of base and height of a right angled triangle will always be equal to the square of the hypotenuse."
        It is funny, because in reality we can find euclidean plane geometry conditions just as a approximation, some good approximations but never in the exactly conditions.
        So, is absolutely proven fact, but it exist just as a idea.
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        Jun 3 2013: Just a bit of perspective here:

        Let's imagine two organisms built on a silicone-based, not carbon-based chemical chains. They sit around discussing that it is by no means possible that any carbon-based organism can exist on any other sphere, anywhere out there.

        Imagine 2D thinking beings not being able to see that the 3rd D is possible.

        Given the old, perspective-based ideas that i mention above - where are most people now?

        I'm not being mystical, esoteric or philosophical here, for the record. Just trying to contribute to the discussion while trying to say that being interdisciplinary, logical, using both euclidean and other forms of thinking + collective knowledge + imagination - (minus) culturally formed and programmed prejudice will get everybody somewhere.
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    May 29 2013: Pabitra, without context, there is no meaning. General statements are rarely meaningful and cannot be debated.

    All facts must be considered in context. E.g. "Water boils at 100C" is a scientific fact. It is true under certain conditions. Therefore, it's not absolutely true. Atmospheric pressure and content of salt in water can make it false. And on the Sun, this fact is meaningless because there is no liquid water on the Sun.

    Math also has limits. Euclidean geometry hinges on concepts that do not exist in reality: straight line, flat plane. How do you practically define those? Our space is bent by mass. There are no infinite flat planes or infinite straight lines. We do not know if the universe has limits. We can say that light follows a straight path only in a certain context, with certain limitations. But for many practical purposes, light can be used to determine "straightness" or "flatness" quite well.

    Science proves a lot of things, but none of them are "absolute". It does not mean that science does not prove anything.

    And I have not even started to discuss what it means to "prove" and what constitutes a valid scientific method. If we go down that rabbit hole, I can soon lead you to a conclusion that there is no truth, the word "proof" has no meaning, there is no reason to believe that we are reasonable, no way to show that logic can prove anything, etc. I suggest that we do not go there. :-)
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      May 29 2013: "Water boils at 100C" is a fact as revealed by experience. Please explain why it is a 'scientific' fact and not common knowledge. I know people who have no understanding of science know that water boils at a particular mark in a thin tube containing mercury, normally. I doubt it is a scientifically 'proven' fact.
      " I can soon lead you to a conclusion that there is no truth, the word "proof" has no meaning, there is no reason to believe that we are reasonable, no way to show that logic can prove anything, etc. I suggest that we do not go there. :-)"
      I had been there and came back :). But are you suggesting that we pretend science has proven absolute facts? It appears that many believe just that, isn't?
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        May 29 2013: I'm a fan of Hume who wrote: (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/9662/9662-h/9662-h.htm#section4):

        "20. All the objects of human reason or enquiry may naturally be divided into two kinds, to wit, Relations of Ideas, and Matters of Fact. Of the first kind are the sciences of Geometry, Algebra, and Arithmetic; and in short, every affirmation which is either intuitively or demonstratively certain. That the square of the hypothenuse is equal to the square of the two sides, is a proposition which expresses a relation between these figures. That three times five is equal to the half of thirty, expresses a relation between these numbers. Propositions of this kind are discoverable by the mere operation of thought, without dependence on what is anywhere existent in the universe. Though there never were a circle or triangle in nature, the truths demonstrated by Euclid would for ever retain their certainty and evidence.

        21. Matters of fact, which are the second objects of human reason, are not ascertained in the same manner; nor is our evidence of their truth, however great, of a like nature with the foregoing. The contrary of every matter of fact is still possible; because it can never imply a contradiction, and is conceived by the mind with the same facility and distinctness, as if ever so conformable to reality. That the sun will not rise to-morrow is no less intelligible a proposition, and implies no more contradiction than the affirmation, that it will rise. We should in vain, therefore, attempt to demonstrate its falsehood. Were it demonstratively false, it would imply a contradiction, and could never be distinctly conceived by the mind."

        This seems to state that matters of fact can never be conclusively "proven", but abstract ideas can. Ideas can be absolute and perfect. Reality cannot. Even if we demonstrate by experiment that water has a boiling point at certain temperature, we only show that this is true under specific circumstances, but not in general (absolutely)
        • May 29 2013: Science is "organized knowledge" who's knowledge? GODS knowledge, we have the power over it by understanding it. without the "understanding" we would not have power over it. GOD gave us the understanding in birth for a reason. so we may be at play. think of the universe full of LEGO"S that are smaller than one another and bigger For GOD has gave his children the understanding of them to be at play so his children may put these LEGO"S together to discover and claim. For mankind does not create only discover and claim, "But i speak Thy TRUTH, unless it is written nothing can be created, so be it thy discovery who may claim" Amen
      • May 30 2013: --"Water boils at 100C" is a fact as revealed by experience."--

        No it does not, it all depends on what elevation one is :)
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          May 30 2013: Hmm. Then it is very confusing. My 'normal' may not be everyone's 'normal'.
  • Dan F 50+

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    May 25 2013: There is an uncertainty principle associated with science in terms of the truth and absolute proof of some particular claim(s) due to the nature of science.

    Having said that, it is the methodology and reasoning associated with science that lends itself to what I'd like to think of as a more sane view of the world and consequently more civilized human behavior on spaceship earth.

    Science reflects what appears to be true about the physical world for a single fundamental reason. Although it may be said that the the individual claims of science is that nothing is above being disproven it is also true that there exist an incredible body of knowledge about reality which has stood the test of time by weathering the intellectual storms as standing knowledge. This standing evidence or factually accepted descriptions or theories about the whats, wheres, hows and whys of the world are seldom independent of one another. The reason that is significant is this interlocking nature of the physical world fits so beautifully with Albert Einstein's observation that the most amazing thing about the real world is its comprehensible nature.

    Now for those who question the reality of reality, or that conspiracies are a significant factor in affecting this process, then perhaps the value of science regarding truth and facts begin to melt, but sanity does as well in my view.
    • May 25 2013: Science is "organized knowledge" who's knowledge? GODS knowledge, we have the power over it by understanding it. without the "understanding" we would not have power over it. GOD gave us the understanding in birth for a reason. so we may be at play. think of the universe full of LEGO"S that are smaller than one another and bigger For GOD has gave his children the understanding of them to be at play so his children may put these LEGO"S together to discover and claim. For mankind does not create only discover and claim, "But i speak Thy TRUTH, unless it is written nothing can be created, so be it thy discovery who may claim" Amen
      • May 26 2013: I rest my case. Salesmen, salesmen everywhere, but not a thought to think.
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        May 28 2013: I am too complex to accept that simple idea, Danny.
        • May 28 2013: you say its simple, but its hard for you to accept it? for what you call an idea is nothing other than the TRUTH, "Mankind cant handle the TRUTH" or at least not yet.
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        May 29 2013: Oh yes! That is exactly what I am saying. We are hardwired to make sense of complex things, so much so that we miss the obviously simple.
        I think TRUTH (the truth - one and ultimate) has no handle at all. It is frozen in mathematical abstraction. Physical world does not and cannot have one.
        • May 29 2013: The one thing u may not know is that when being a very super intelligent person, people seem not to believe you because they are not on the level of understanding yet. i feel that way. if i was to speak out to the world the world will deny me because they are not on the level of understanding as i am. example: if very intelligent being came from another part of the universe and try to share piece, the world would deny his understanding because they are not ready for the TRUTH. because they are an less understanding than a being who is far more advance not only in knowledge but in Truth.
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  • May 23 2013: There are no absolutes of any kind. There are many observations that lend themselves to this remark.

    Our perception of the world is mediated by components of the real world, light for example, and therefore perception is incapable of being perfectly indicative. We are unable to identify anything perfectly and therefore cannot be perfectly knowledgeable about it. Because we are unable to identify anything perfectly we have no basis for supposing that anything is perfectly identifiable.

    Language is learned. It consists of bits of the real that are understood by a group of communicators to have a common significance. The notion of perfect language is therefore illusory because the identity of a single thing is questionable, common identities that form the basis of our common nouns is even more questionable, and the process of transmitting the language through teaching/learning from one generation to the next reflects the success of language but does not imply that it is perfect.

    The issue of proof is mainly semantic. We must decide what we mean by the word. Typically the word is at its clearest in mathematics where we have agreed elements and procedures. In the scientific context the issue of proof usually arises in the context of achieving perfect, unquestionable, absolute assertions about the world. In science no such proof is to be had. There are organised branches of science where mathematics style proofs are possible because the understanding is effectively mathematical - there are established elements and procedures. But in science although we presume the future will be like the past we unable to absolutely guarantee that this is the case, and for this reason we tend to think of the mathematical proof as being more secure than a scientific one.

    Are there scientific facts and generalisations? Obviously yes. Are they guaranteed as correct for eternity. Obviously not! Is perfect knowledge possible? No - even the question is framed in imperfect language.
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      May 23 2013: As a side note: Imperfection rules. Everywhere we set our attention, nothing is perfect. Perfection and absolutes are abstractions. I think those who realize and appreciate science within this realm, truly practice it. Rest are dogmatists.
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    May 18 2013: Universal truths that will always be true are darn near impossible to find. We can continually test the effects of one thing or another and we can say what we absolutely believe to be true and will happen every time we test something, but that person does not know that one effect will happen for an infinite amount of tests. I believe science and math were invented by man to explain the world around us. Some science may perfectly explain how one particular thing does what it does, but that does not mean that is *why* it does what it does. Our method is still invented although it explains something. So, no I don't believe there is an absolutely proven scientific fact.

    Sorry if I repeated someone's comment or idea within their comment.
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    May 18 2013: nope, not in my book of life give the holographic nature of creation lends itself to near any science may wish prove of it. While string theories elegantly dancing 'tween simple and compLex 'til someS goes AMiss as sHe picks up on where man leaves off. A Ms till mumin automatic, once preggers much as once the universe may have been for manifesting itself in matter. Man studyes life by looking looking back in on life, or from outside in. She, lives it from within the broad array of insights dancing into mind when most fitting, and its truly magical at how the universe has managed to arrange its timing, Hey, science is the art of man's figuring out , what is freely give to one and all, the insights which SPArk our passion, from rattling ourselves into action with joyful noise and great be light, be squeal and smile . How can science, possibly speak of the magic of life of which all the ill , aches and pains have surface while yet another of the tree, as once the elm, now the ash, while we cannot begin to count the maples we've lost and the birches which . . if trees, our inverted lungs, are dying in one way or another, trees which lived 500 years without trying, not strong enough to survive a 100 years at best and now, as one species after another dies off for good . ah, back to our theory, That if it dosn't make sense, is in conflict, wow, I have been totally taken aback by some one whose views just made the whole of my being churn, it just dawned on me that I felt my being digesting the fact that some women could feel such disdainfulfulness towards man. . . how , why, have we lost that loving feeling , science is loveless. money is divisive while each of us is a combo of linage and locale, with every spot on earth absorbing and resonating The Galaxyes sing song, grounding in earth with life's mushroom on the land which rose from neath its briny blue, Science is mindless how can it speak of truth. It is clueless, about life, as is medicine about health. grow U'r own.
    • May 18 2013: There is no theory nor science in nature. Only a real process of cause and effect on one eternally existing elemental thing that formed into many. Its the egotistical human species that took to rumination when their belly was full to get out of that boredom. Out of that boredom rose the anxiety to find away to escape nature's sudden acts of balance as catastrophes ostensibly aimed at homo-sapiens. Then lo and behold rose theories from the mightiest of egotists that sang the song of revengeful religion headed by an un-relenting being that punished the sinners but ignored the others. Straightaway the rules of inequality was propagated and spread like wild fire to create the" haves and havenots" . It then became a mathematical fact that the massive became the haves and the lighter ones the "havenots". We haven't lost that loving feeling it has been only sublimated towards the "haves" . Then the tables were turned by the" havenots" on the "haves". . Then they lured the " haves" through experiments of illusion called deceit to force the " haves" to part with what they loved. It was like magic when it succeeded beyond imagination. So it was called science or the laws of deceit.
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    May 16 2013: Let's consider Science as observation.

    Hence: It is naive (no offence to anyone) to expect from something which is variable (science) -> something which is absolute. Science can't guide you to the truth since there is always room for improvement to the method you use to observe.
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    May 16 2013: Well, I all I can say after learning about the "TinkerBell Effect" , Quantum physics and Quantum mechanics, a lot of answers or perceived facts depend on the observer, or from the perception of the person, although maths can come pretty close at times or work out, I think some realitys or proofs are best determined individuality.. or is it that we and everything is connected? Today I choose to believe I am an individual... so an individual choice. We think :D
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    May 16 2013: Science is but another explanation of the universe and, at that level, fiercely competing with religions. Interestingly when we learn to write stories we learn one basic principle: any story should have a beginning, a middle and an end. The problem we are writing the story of the universe from within. Science came up with the "big bang" theory and many religions with some creation story. Religions are somewhat more romantic and closer to the people. Unfortunately many scientists want to "elevate" science to the status of a religion. As much as I admire people like Richard Dawkins I think this approach is wrong. Science is not a tool to find the truth but to give a "logical" explanation of observable natural phenomena. Truth is a moral term. Truth is in the eyes of the beholder.