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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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  • 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

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        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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