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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.

http://www.nars.org/Voice_of_Science_Articles/Does%20Sciences%20Ever%20Absolutely%20Prove%20Anything.pdf

Is there an absolutely proven scientific fact?

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    May 10 2013: I think science does prove many things, especially regarding the natural world but science wouldn't be science if it wasn't open for modification.

    Part of being a scientist is developing a hypothesis and testing it in order to know if their hypothesis is true or not. From what I hear, a good scientist is trying to prove their theory wrong as much as they are trying to prove that its correct.

    Being that I am not a scientist I will choose not to speak on weather or not science has absolutely proven anything although I'm sure there may be a few things out there that are absolute.

    Even if science is not capable of proving absolutes, I still think its the best thing that we have in regards to developing truth claims and facts about the natural world and the universe. I'm not saying that science is the only subject that is capable of establishing truth and facts but when it comes to scientific questions (or even philosophical questions) I think science is great and one of the best methods out there for answers such questions.
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      May 10 2013: Science is not capable of proving anything or is it that science does not seek to prove anything?
      Don't you think we need to find a common ground of understanding for what we mean by truths and facts and their fundamentality? I think a lot of debate comes from those premises as our ideas of truths and facts and those in science may not be same.
      A lot of science is based on probability and probability is somewhat counter intuitive. Or else what can explain the reluctance of human mind embracing scientific values?
      Dr. Richard Dawkins in some video demonstrated this dilemma. Say you are standing at the corner of a room and at the center of the room a cannonball is suspended from the ceiling. Let us also imagine that this cannonball is heavy enough to quash a human head like a water melon. Now if I pull the cannonball up to your nose and explain to you that by simple mechanics it will not hurt you in any way if I let it swing and come back to your nose to as close of a fraction of an inch, will you flinch?
      Will somebody easily believe that his/her watch need to be synchronized every 12 hours in an orbit above the surface of earth by few kilometers to be at par with earth clocks because of general relativity?
      These are absolutely proven scientific facts, or say very solidly proven scietific facts, aren't they?
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        May 11 2013: "Science is not capable of proving anything or is it that science does not seek to prove anything? "

        If you put it that way, I would have to go with the latter. I think they go off of their testing, observations and experimentation with the idea that any findings is subject to change the moment more is learned.

        "Don't you think we need to find a common ground of understanding for what we mean by truths and facts and their fundamentality? I think a lot of debate comes from those premises as our ideas of truths and facts and those in science may not be same."

        I would say yes. This reminds me of Lawrence Krauss book "A Universe from Nothing" in which he talks about his notion of nothing (or those in science) is not the same as the nothing as defined by philosophy and theology....I don't think its as divorced from each other as you think they are but I am with you in regards to finding some common ground in regards to understanding what is being talked about.

        "A lot of science is based on probability and probability is somewhat counter intuitive. Or else what can explain the reluctance of human mind embracing scientific values?"

        I am not sure if you misunderstood my comments. I pretty much agree with everything your saying. I think scientific methodology is a good thing. The world or universe is the way it is weather we like it our not. Some of our experiences may not scale with the way things really are. Also there is a tendency that when things are reduced to their fundamental constituencies, people tend to think there is a loss of value. That's not my issue. I think science can establish very stable values.

        the issue with the cannon ball I would still flinch. not because its a natural tendency but if I was ignorant of what's being told to me I would like to find out through my own observation. As for the watch example, I would want reasons as to why I would need to synchronize my watch every 12 hours...

        and I say i agree with your last question

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