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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 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.

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