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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

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