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Is the scientific method the best way to get at the "truth"?

In their preface of Broad and Wade the following paragraph sums up their findings, “Our conclusion, in brief, is that science bears little resemblance to its conventional portrait. We believe that the logical structure discernible in scientific knowledge says nothing about the process by which the structure was built or the mentality of the builders. In the acquisition of new knowledge, scientists are not guided by logic and objectivity alone, but also by such nonrational factors as rhetoric, propaganda, and personal prejudice. Scientists do not depend solely on rational thought and have no monopoly on it. Science should not be considered the guardian of rationality in society, but merely one major form of its cultural expression.”

What we learn from Babbage, Reflections of the Decline of Science in England, and Some of Its Causes that as early as the 1830 ethical problems existed in the halls of science. Babbage refers to three practices, “Trimming consists in clipping off little bits here and there from those observations which differ most in excess of the mean, and in sticking them on to those which are too small; a species of ‘equitable adjustment’ as a radical would term it, which cannot be admitted in science.”

In this section “Of Cooking. This is an art of various forms, the object of which is to give to ordinary observations the appearance and character of those of the highest degree of accuracy.” “One of its numerous processes is to make multitudes of observations, and out of these to select those which agree, or very nearly agree. If a hundred observations are made, the cook must be very unlucky if he cannot pick out fifteen or twenty which will do for serving up.” Here Babbage anticipated trials conducted or financed by drug companies where unfavorable or neutral results are shelved and only the tests giving the “right” results are published. This process is systemic in the pharmaceutical industry.


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    Dec 18 2013: Might we avoid your own “noise?” Please make an effort to squelch your ramblings and non sequiturs. You speak of Central Park and a glass of water in the kitchen before making the point that your intuition trumps scientific fact!

    Congrats on having a great gut, but your intuition, while undoubtedly precise, is not a tool of science. And before we entertain any willingness to modify (at best) or discard (at worst) the scientific method in favor of the “emotional appeal” of your, or any other human being's intuition, let’s at least agree to study it! If there’s something there—call it a new variable—that can aid in scientific discovery, let’s find out what it is. Perhaps we might measure, quantify, normalize, and interject human intuition into the scientific process? Until then, the jury hasn’t even been called, much less, heard a case here.
    • Dec 18 2013: If you were a true scientist you would welcome a challenge to the scientific method. Instead you resort to sarcasm rather than trying to understand it. You have made a great non scientific comment, "Congrats on having a great gut, but your intuition, while undoubtedly precise, is not a tool of science".

      One facet of being a good scientist is maintaining an open mind. I have presented a new (or modified research methodology), supported by facts which you reject for no other reason than your incorrect statement that I am relying on "emotional appeal" when I specifically stated that intuition is "eye of the mind", not emotional.

      I fully agree that it should be measured, quantified and tested to see if intuitive iteration with its insistence on the role of intuition for the top scientists falls outside the generally accepted tenets of what is commonly believed to be the scientific method. If you wish to incorporate intuitive iteration under the umbrella of the scientific method---great!
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        Dec 18 2013: Not every utterance made in casual conversation need be scientific or sans sarcasm. That said, I accept your rebuke and remain open to your intuition being demonstrated as an unheralded scientific tool. In fact, I welcome new data and, while skeptical, am determined to remain fully open to new scientific discovery on the topic. Nonetheless, my initial statement, while sarcastic, is, technically speaking, factual: Your intuition is not a tool of science... at least not at present.
        • Dec 18 2013: Considered the Father of modern science it is appropriate to see just how the “scientific method” first began. Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Tuscany in 1564. It is clear from Broad and Wade, “With Galileo, the desire to make his ideas prevail apparently led him to report experiments that could not have been performed exactly as described. Thus an ambiguous attitude toward data was present from the very beginning of Western experimental science. On the one hand, experimental data was upheld as the ultimate arbiter of truth; on the other hand, fact was subordinated to theory when necessary and even, if it didn’t fit, distorted. The Renaissance saw the flowering of Western experimental
          science, but in Galileo, the propensity to manipulate fact was the worm in the bud.”

          According to Graf, strong models are like crude filters readily admitting data consistent with the model and rejecting data inconsistent with the model. In another paper I mentioned that
          strong models are like Queen bees; the first thing the Queen does when she realizes she
          is a Queen is to try to kill off her rivals; that is how science works.

          The problem with the scientific method, as I see it, is that the creation of fact is suspect. It is my experience that facts are routinely corrupted in every discipline I have examined.

          More to the point the very basis of the scientific method has been corrupted by one of the strongest models of all time---the Big Bang Theory. The single biggest problem with this discipline is that its adherents have never postulated a data set whose acquisition would falsify the model. What we have with the BBT is "adjustible parameters. In every instance when a new data set is acquired inconsistent with the BBT, a new adjustable parameter is appealed to explain the data. No BBT theorist has ever suggested that once we achieve some level of adjustable parameters the BBT should be rejected.
        • Dec 18 2013: It is my fond hope that my theories are not an outlier; when I first proposed II in 1995 a respondent in the journal indicated that he had endorsed II and was willing to reject a purely mathematical mode of the universel.

          It could be I am the only one willing to test the model and it will languish in obscurity. Unless others try the methodology successfully, it is clearly not science, but purely anecdotal.
        • Dec 18 2013: One quality of relativists his how often they cite as “irrefutable” proof of the “law” of relativity studies that are, at best equivocal. Consider this example of data manipulation in the work of Hafele and Keating’s “test” of relativity (J.C. Hafele and R.E. Keating, 1972, “Around the World Atomic Clocks Predicted Relativistic Time Gains,” Science, 177, 166-168 & 168-170).

          This is one of the most heavily cited papers of all times in support of relativity yet:

          Sounds good but actually look at the “data”. In an article by A.G. Kelly, “Hafele and Keating tests---Did They Prove Anything?” Anti-Relativity http://www.anti-relativity.com/hafelekeatingdebunk.htm. we see, “The original test results were not published by Hafele and Keating in their famous 1972 paper; they published figures that were radically different from the actual results which are here published for the first time. An analysis of the real data shows no credence can be given to the conclusions of Hafele and Keating.”

          “The individual portable clocks used H & K should have displayed a steady drift-rate relative to the ground clock-station. Three of the four clocks were so poor in this regard to render them useless.” “These alterations to the drift-rate should be close to zero, to give confidence in any conclusions. An examination of the drift rates before and after the Eastward and Westward (Table 1) tests shows that huge differences emerged during the tests.”

          “Examples of how unreasonable were the corrections from the actual test results to the amended version are:

          “Clock 408 (Eastward) ‘corrected’ from +166ns to -55ns

          “Clock 361 (Westward) ‘corrected from -44ns to +284ns.”

          So H & K simply took data inconsistent with special relativity and converted it into data consistent with special relativity and it is cited ad nauseum by relativists.
        • Dec 18 2013: Just like general relativity quantum mechanics started out with “cooked” data. We learn from M. Brooks, 2007, “Histories, Convenient Untruths,” New Scientist, November 17, 58-59, that, “In the 1920’s German physicist Emil Rupp was widely considered the pre-eminent experimentalist of his time of his time. By 1935 he had been exposed as a fraud and reputation lay in tatters. The discovery of Rupp’s faked data threatened other reputations, too, most notably that of Albert Einstein. Keen to see experiments that confirmed his theories and his instincts, Einstein had relished Rupp’s results. The great theorist was in the midst of his efforts to understand the quantum world and his ideas were based partly on Rupp’s forged experimental evidence.”

          What did Einstein know and when did he know it? He knew that Rupp had repeatedly come up with bogus results, yet just as soon as Rupp came up with the “right” answers, Einstein immediately suspended any disbelief. Einstein even noted at one point that Rupp could only have achieved the results he achieved, “…by an unconscious rotation of the mirror.” ibid.

          From J. V. Dongen, “Emil Rupp, Albert Einstein and Canal Ray Experiments on Wave-particle Duality: Scientific Fraud and Theoretical Bias,” Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences, 37, supplement, 73-120., “The Einstein-Rupp experiments were proposed in 1926 to study the wave versus particle nature of light. Einstein presented a theoretical analysis of these experiments to the Berlin Academy with the results of Rupp, who claimed to have successfully carried them out. However, this success was the result of scientific fraud…” “Rupp had overplayed his hand: he claimed that in his prediction of positrons, a beam of protons had been accelerated at potential differences of 500kv. For this he obviously lacked the necessary apparatus or the means to acquire such and apparatus---he did not even have enough laboratory space to accommodate such an apparatus.”
        • Dec 18 2013: 1) Mature galaxies found in the red shift “Desert” right “after” the Big Bang. They “should not be there” Solution: Adjustable parameter. Not predicted by BB.
          2) Inflation: Required to explain the flatness of the universe. Adjustable parameter not predicted by the BB theory. Inflation must start and stop for no apparent reason.
          3) Dark matter: Not detected on earth, required to be present to form “walls and voids”. Adjustable parameter to explain rotation of galaxies; MOND fits better. Dark matter was not predicted by BB.
          4) Dark Energy: Adjustable parameter to explain accelerating universal expansion. Not predicted by BB.
          5) Filaments---twisting thin plasma with juvenile stars: Adjustable parameter. It requires “sonic booms” to explain them. Not predicted by BB.
          6) Red shift---spawned BB theory---multiple origins based on the work of Arp---behavior of quasars showing “ejection” phenomenon. Not predicted by BB.
          7) Non-uniform galaxy distribution yet minuscule anisotropy of the microwave background radiation was not predicted by the BB Theory. Adjustable parameter required.
          8) Massive gamma ray output not evident in the early universe. If BB created anti-particles then massive gamma ray production should be present there. It is not observed. Adjustable parameter needed.
          9) Distant galaxies subject to expansion should show lesser concentrations of matter; the opposite is occurred. Not predicted by BB theory. Adjustable parameter needed.
          10) Predicted light element abundances require adjustable parameters to fit each element. According to van Flandern, “Each such prediction requires at least one adjustable parameter unique to that element prediction.”*
        • Dec 18 2013: What we see with respect to Newton is that he was, perhaps, even worse than modern physicists are with playing fast and loose with the facts. According to Ohanian, “A careful examination of Newton’s writings has revealed that some of the errors in Principia were deliberate and dishonest attempts to mislead.” “And to convince his audience that he was the ‘most perfect mechanic,’ he proceeded to fabricate the required agreement between theory and observation, by fair means or foul.”

          According to Ohanian once again, “Then he imagined that not all of the air that surrounds the ‘true air’; instead some of it is ‘vapor,’ which does not participate in the propagation of sound and therefore, somehow, made sound travel even faster, and for this he inserted another correction factor. With these two fudge factors, his final calculation for the speed of sound in air came to 1142 feet per second, which---surprise, surprise---agreed exactly with the value of 1142 feet per second that had recently been measured in experiments by his friend William Derham…”

          “Other examples of similar fakery are found in Newton’s theoretical calculations of the precession of the equinoxes, the magnitude of the force of gravity acting on the Moon, the height of the tides, and the size of the equatorial bulge of the earth.” “…and so he inserted fictional fudge factors into his calculations and/or cherry-picked the data.”

          “Newton’s fraud did not receive wide attention because the Principia, was much admired but little read…” “Besides, we have documentary evidence from letters between Newton and Roger Cotes, the second edition of the Principia, that they engaged in collusion to ‘mend’ the numbers. Cotes would propose to Newton some fraudulent adjustment of observational data…and Newton would do Cotes one better by contriving some fudge factor that suited the occasion.” ibid.
        • Dec 18 2013: “According to historian I. Bernard Cohen, however, Galileo’s conclusion ‘only shows how firmly he had made up his mind beforehand, for the rough conditions of the experiment would never have yielded an exact law. Actually the discrepancies were so great that a contemporary worker, Pere Mersenne, could not reproduce the results described by Galileo and even doubted that he had made the experiment.’”.

          “Galileo liked to perform ‘thought experiments’ imagining an outcome rather than observing it. He described dropping a ball from the mast of a moving ship; however he never actually did it saying only, ‘No,’ Galileo replied, ‘and I do not need it, as without any experience I can affirm that it is so, because it cannot be otherwise.’”

          We see the influence of mindless supporters of an icon. When describing, “…perhaps nothing older than motion,” Galileo makes no mention of actually performing experiments, yet in the translated version, “by experiment” appears but is not present in the original Italian. Broad and Wade suggest, “…they have been added by the translator, who evidently had strong feelings on how Galileo should have proceeded.”
        • Dec 18 2013: Time Magazine and Stephen Hawking

          This now brings us to Sir Stephen Hawking. Professor Hawking did not exhibit the kind of decorum one would hope to get from a Nobel Laureate and heir apparent to Einstein. Professor Hawking had a fiduciary responsibility to provide the public with unbiased, factual information, so that they can understand and appreciate the work of scientists. Professor Hawking was in the powerful position of battling a fatal disease all the while being a cherished figure within the public and is held in high regard by physicists, an icon.
          Here is what Hawking said in his book, “A Brief History of Time From the Big Bang to Black Holes, on page 32, with regard to the Eclipse data, “Their measurement had been sheer luck, or a case of knowing the result they wanted to get, not an uncommon occurrence in science. The light deflection has, however, been accurately confirmed by a number of later observations.”25 (Not according to Sir John Maddox, Editor Emeritus of Nature Magazine.)3
          Then in his Time Magazine article, Hawking on page 79 stated, “It was confirmed in spectacular fashion in 1919, when a British expedition to West Africa observed a slight shift in the position of stars near the sun. Here was direct evidence that space and time are warped, the greatest change in our perception of the arena in which we live, since Euclid wrote his Elements about 300 B.C.”26
          Apparently, Professor Hawking “forgot” what he wrote in his book when he wrote his article for Time Magazine. Professor Hawking gave Time Magazine editors exactly what they wanted the hear: First Einstein came up with this obscure theory and just like that, the data flowed seamlessly and the theory was confirmed. Nothing could be further from the truth.
        • Dec 19 2013: Where we see Darwin really cutting corners is in a book not commonly known called, The Expressions of Emotions which has been addressed by Judson (the Great Betrayal Fraud in Science). What is remarkable is to what lengths Darwin was willing to go to force his “data” to fit his preconceptions. To get the “candid” expressions he got, Darwin staged some of the photographs. Others he simply appropriated from Duchenne’s book who had simply photographed individuals whose muscles were subjected to electric shocks. “Of several, he had engravings made that retained the stimulated expressions but eliminated the electrodes. Another was simply a drawing ‘made to look like a photograph’”. “The London photographer Oscar Rejlander proved especially skillful at securing the expressions Darwin wanted.” (ibid.)

          What defenders of Darwin use to explain Darwin’s fakery is that there were no standards of practice and procedure when it came to photography. (Judson) Since it was a new discipline we can excuse Darwin’s conduct simply because, at that point, there were no rules. Staged results to demonstrate “candid” expressions seem to be fraud no matter what the standards were at the time. Proponents can try to defend Darwin’s conduct all they want but Darwin could have avoided any appearance of impropriety by simply stating that the photographs were representations, not actual examples, of these emotions; to present them as “standard” emotional responses is the kind of fraud known since the days of Babbage..

          One of the common complaints when addressing forgery, trimming and cooking (Babbage) is the belief amongst defenders of icons, that it is inappropriate to use standards of science today to address practices in the past. While possessing some merit it is useful to demonstrate that many of the giants in science have set a pattern of behavior that, in many instances, is deplorable. You don’t have to be a revisionist to note the way Newton cooked his data is wrong by any standard.
        • Dec 19 2013: “Newton’s willingness to resort to sleight of hand is evident in more than falsification of data. He used his position as President of the Royal Society, England’s premiere scientific club, to wage his battle with Leibniz over who first invented calculus. What was shameful about Newton’s behavior was the hypocrisy with which he paid lip service to fair procedure but followed the very opposite course” “Ostensibly the work of a committee of impartial scientists, the report was a complete vindication of Newton’s claims and even accused Leibniz of plagiary. In fact the whole report, sanctimonious preface included, had been written by Newton himself. Historians now believe that Leibniz’ invention of calculus was made independently of Newton.” (Broad and Wade)
        • Dec 19 2013: So Eddington set out to Principe in Africa in 1919, with the express purpose of proving Einstein right. No supporters of Einstein appear to be fazed by the fact that Eddington was an advocate for Einstein, not some objective scientist. Eddington took his role as the great peacemaker and kingmaker very seriously. He attempted to calm the antipathy British and German scientists shared (“It was not without international significance, for it opportunely put an end to wild talk of boycotting German science.”5 Later Eddington said, “By standing foremost in testing, and ultimately verifying the ‘enemy’ theory, our national observatory kept alive the finest traditions of science; and the lesson is perhaps still needed today”5).

          What Eddington did to prove Einstein right was so ridiculous, it borders on the sublime. Here is what Eddington did to get the results he wanted according to Poor40, “4. Not a single expedition so far reporting has made a systematic study of all the data obtained. In the South American eclipse of 1919, less than 15% of the actual measured data was used in obtaining the announced result…All non-radial components of the actual measures were discarded as ‘accidental errors’.”40
          That’s right: Eddington threw out over 85% of the data! If you throw out all the data that differs from the results predicted by general relativity, what remains, by definition, will be consistent with general relativity!
          “7.The actual stellar displacements, when freed from all assumptions, do not show the slightest resemblance to the predicted Einstein deflections: they do not agree in direction, in size, or in the rate of decrease with distance from the sun.” “8.The actual measured
          displacements, if real, can best be explained by some refractive effect of the earth’s atmosphere: by a combination of the Courvoisier effect, of day-light refraction, and of temperature effects caused by the passing of the eclipse shadow.”40
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          Dec 19 2013: What's your point Richard....scientists are human.

          doesn't the process of science eventually identify the errors or false hoods

          dealing with ambiguity, and managing gaps, being able to differentiate between the speculative elements and the high confidence elements, is all part of it.
        • Dec 19 2013: Where I am in disagreement with the scientitic method is that facts should be collected for the sole purpose of collecting facts---not to test hypotheses. If scientific insights result from these high quality facts, then science would be much better off than collecting "facts" for the purpose of testing hypotheses.

          What the purpose of these posts establishes is that so much of what is believed to be fact is often the corruption and derogation of the factual record to pursue some agenda. Once "facts" are collected to "test" a model we have a situation where strong models corrupt weak men and women. Many scientists (mea culpa) will look over their shoulders when creating "fact" to see if it contradicts the reigning paradigm.

          According to Stephen Hawking the theory of general relativity (Time Magazine) will last as long as the universe. With that sense of finality, how can we be assured that the collection of any set of facts will overturn it?

          The Big Bang Theory has been around some 80 years (?) and is incapable of being falsified. A major reason that it cannot be falsified is that researchers cannot get funding to test alternate theories.

          We need intuition to counter the mathematicians who bring us a sterile universe dominated by the great "god" of chance that brings us into existence by the mindless creation of infinite universes to get just this "one" universe that supports life. We can accept what the mathematicians say or, as my "gut" tells me there is more to us than merely chemical reactions.

          Within a few years there will be overwhelming proof that there is "structure" to the Big Bang i.e. that it had a past.
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      Dec 18 2013: I think people forget that intuition is more likely to lead a person to promising results when the person has some expertise in an area than when he has minimal insight.

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