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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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    Gord G

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    Dec 18 2013: We don't know the "truth", so how can we know what's the best way to get at it?

    Scientific method depends on being wrong, or as Karl Popper expressed it, empirical falsification. But that still doesn't ensure we will eventually stumble upon the truth. Why is the truth important? Shouldn't we be more concerned with what's the best way to get at harmony? At least harmony can be constructed from our agreed upon reality.

    [Or perhaps we are the truth and we're moving away from it ;-) ]
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      Dec 18 2013: “We don't know the "truth", so how can we know what's the best way to get at it?”

      Let that jaw-dropping sentence sink in for a moment. Imagine a detective making that statement. “Well, we don’t know who committed this crime, so how can we know what the best way is to find out?” Are you kidding?

      And is that how you believe knowledge really works? First we get the final picture, and then we determine a method to reach it? Please note, we’re not talking about religion here. Perhaps you’ve been working on too many jigsaw puzzles with the picture on the box sitting on the table as your guide. This is not now how science works. Science doesn’t get to see the answers first. We construct a method that we believe to be rational, repeatable and as unbiased as possible, and then we go out and collect data, and then we expect, even demand, that others will challenge our results, as well as our methods.

      Piece by piece, the puzzle of understanding the universe is being assembled, and we don’t know what it is yet, even though some might tell us what it should be, or insist that they know what the final picture actually looks like.

      You evidently don’t understand Karl Popper or the concept of falsifiability, wherein all science is asked to provide the criteria needed to disprove the hypothesis. All valid propositions are falsifiable, and perhaps the best way to get at the truth is to avoid making misguided assumptions.
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        Gord G

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        Dec 18 2013: Pick up your jaw. You'll need it.

        The question wasn't "Is it possible that scientific method is the best way to get at the truth?" It may be. But it's impossible to know if it IS the best way.

        To use your analogy...

        If we don't know what the crime is, how can we know the BEST way to solve it? We can try several methods to reveal the crime, but that presupposes the act of solving it.
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          Dec 20 2013: Thank you for clarifying. Jaw's back in place.

          If we can't say for sure that a crime has been committed—for example, we don’t know if someone was robbed, assaulted or ignored, as we appear not to have a victim—then investigation itself, no matter the method used, would seem pointless—a waste of law enforcement’s time. But as we know, science doesn’t work this way. Science investigates, irrespective of what it discovers.

          We may not have the cover of the box that the jigsaw puzzle came in (to use another analogy), but we are gradually filling in more pieces of the puzzle. Some pieces come by happenstance—the discovery of cosmic background radiation—while others come by looking in the right places—the Higgs Boson particle, or from pure creative genius—special relativity. And occasionally, as we discover more pieces around a particular piece, we find that we were incorrectly forcing one of the pieces into the wrong place.

          It remains to be seen if there is a better way to add to our understanding of the universe, but we currently have a reliable tool in the scientific method that has gotten us this far, and until a superior process is developed, it will remain the tool of choice.
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    Jan 1 2014: There's a video concerning this that I recommend - http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/beyond-reason/

    I'm normally pretty critical of pseudo-science documentaries like "What the Bleep do we Know?". But I found the video above to be quite exceptional, at least the first 30 minutes. The two scientists in the beginning of the film do a really great job articulating the limits of the scientific method and our notion of "truth".
  • Dan F

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    Dec 26 2013: Hi Richard, just a couple elementary comments,

    There are a couple elements I think are noteworthy about the scientific method. Its employment has a free enterprise component. Its open to all. Also it has an element of helping us better understand the world around us because - the truth, when it can be illuminated by this method, can get our attention.

    The fact is almost anything, even the scientific method is subject to the motives of those "employing it." This can be a problem because the scientific method design is idealistic and can be tainted by our cultural traditions, or our unrelated creative or self promoting side. Does anyone deny these aspects are often steeped into our humanity and reflected in universities, textbooks composers, professions, etc.

    In general the scientific method has stimulated science in the modern era and the resulting application of this knowledge is reflected in a manner that has reconfigured our world both physically and in terms of our individual internal perspectives about reality.

    Even though it may be somewhat side lined in many "colleges," or water down, etc., its most revealing employment demands the very best of us in two ways. The information fed in is factual and complete and the results are factual and complete regarding the task at study.

    Although the scientific method may not "prove" anything it has provided us with an undeniable gift best referred to as "standing knowledge" and the internet has been instrumental in helping millions of us better understanding the physical sciences and how all this knowledge came about.
  • Dec 24 2013: Richard,
    you try to save the phenomenon by shifting the focus from scientific 'facts' to the gut feeling, don't you ?
    If that is the case , it's a nice move! And it has been in place for awhile, you are in a good company here :)
    Paul Dirac once said , ' A theory with mathematical beauty is more likely to be correct than the ugly one that fits some experiment "
    Or you may check out right here on TED
    " ... we have this remarkable experience in this field of fundamental physics that beauty is a very successful criterion for choosing the right theory."
    To connect the dots :
    We don't think beauty, we feel beauty, it's in our guts.
    So, ' truth ' whatever it is, clusters around 'beauty' ( it's Plato's idea, actually ) and it's 'gut' that signals its presence.
    So, i would say : listen to your gut ! :)
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    Dec 21 2013: The scientific method is the best way to get at a working explanation. No more, no less. It does not prove anything absolutely, ever. Can I ask a question back?
    If one has a health problem and has tried all medical science that has given him/her no relief discovers a way, a discipline, a habit, a particular diet with no scientific authenticity but giving him/her relief every time tried - will that person not adopt that unexplained way? Truth here is his/her relief, isn't?
    • Dec 21 2013: Aren't you arguing for an intuitive alternative---that seems to lead to truth i.e. his/her relief? So, if the scientific method provides one explanation e.g. an origin for the Big Bang, wouldn't a spriritual origin based on intuition be as valid as one derived through the scientific method? Should we view that intuitive response as an alternative to the scientific method?
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        Dec 21 2013: Yes. Learning "truths" (whatever that is) has no algorithm. It is pure instinct. Explanations can be organized and that is where scientific method comes in. You can never explain how to shoot an arrow to hit a target, how to swim, sing, paint, cycle not even having a rare insight.
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          E G

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          Dec 22 2013: I do not agree with both of you . There is no alternative to the scientific method when it comes ot answering questions that are within the science reach . Science is the best at answering this type of truths .

          No , if science provides one explanation about the origin of the Universe , any sipiritual gain , based on whatever intuition , that is different of the scientific explanation , will not be as valid as the scientific explanation.

          Learnign truths has algorithms , we are that algorithms . And as long as science discovers and explains us there is no alternative to science --- why ? simply because we are the guys that are learning the truths .
  • Dec 19 2013: It's always uncovered. I'm averse to systems & methods.
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      Dec 19 2013: I don't understand your comment Scott, more then that you dislike systems.

      Let me ask you this, are you also averse to the systems withing music? Do you play completely at random every time you play?
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    Dec 19 2013: Hi Richard I suggest it is useful to consider the warts and all of science, not idealise it

    I work for an industrial research facility so see practical science in it's every day glory from a business driven perspective.

    however, aiming to follow the ideals of the scientific method, even with the inevitable human frailties and complexities at the edges of science, the process of modern science has delivered a lot in a few hundred years both amazing and terrifying.

    compare this to 100,000 years of not following the scientific method.
    • Dec 19 2013: 100,000 years!? A little exaggeration I assume.
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        Dec 19 2013: Ehm no, that's the low end of the estimate for how long our species have existed.
        • Dec 19 2013: Yea, because they just discovered a bone which dates back to over 400,000 years. Only a variance of 300,000 years. As I state early scientific progress is just a frame of reference.

          "however, aiming to follow the ideals of the scientific method, even with the inevitable human frailties and complexities at the edges of science, the process of modern science has delivered a lot in a few hundred years both amazing and terrifying. compare this to 100,000 years of not following the scientific method."

          It just sounds like a pompous statement with no real evidence. If we were just advance sometime during that duration common materials such as plastics, other materials it is estimated to these types of items would decompose within an estimated 600 years minus glass which is about 1 million. Most of our common structures found only date back 5,000 years. It hard to say what kind of technologies or advancements they could have had. Haven't you seen the show a "World without humans."
    • Dec 19 2013: You kind of have to draw a distinction between applied research and basic research; having worked in a basic research establishment (about the only research I have done as applied research was studying a site for the storage of high-level radioactive waste at sea and doing a geohazard assessment of the outer continental shelf for oil exploration) you have a little more latitude in terms of research.

      I guess my primary criticism of the scientific method is the large number of icons who presumably profess to follow the scientific method who do just the opposite. Einstein had good intuition, but was too willing to accept data that confirmed his theories without challenging it. Charles Lane Poor, Professor Emeritus of Celestial Mechanics at Columbia Univeristy, didn't believe in general relativity. He wrote an article (Poor, C.L. 1930. “The Deflection of Light as Observed at Total Solar Eclipses,” J. Opt. Soc. Amer., 20, 173-211) that showed beyond a reasonable doubt, that the Eclipse data of 1919 was fraudulent, yet Einstein preferred to rely on his friend Eddington. Einstein had to have known of the article (Obviously if I can find it 80 years later, he could find it!) and that the Eclipse data in 1922 was just as unreliable as the 1919 data.

      I regard Einstein as a dilettante and mathematician, not a scientist.

      True scientists laboring unseen in the trenches are the "real" scientists One of my best friends is a recipient of a Life Time Achievement Award from the Geological Society of American. He is a "scientist's scientist". He has done everything you can think of--basic research, spectacular teacher (he was the only teacher who ever gave me a C in geology!), advisor to countless graduate students, participated in many committees, was in charge of funding or not funding research projects in funding agencies, and, even now at 80, is fighting to maintain standards of excellence in academic standards at SUNY at Albany.
  • Dec 18 2013: I am so glad this topic came up. Scientific method is our best method available to us at this time; however, I believe it could be modified or reexamined. The biggest problem I have with the method is that observers have over stepped their boundaries putting too much emphasize on time as a physical construct rather than a measurement tool. Not trying to go too much into left field here, but in our current state of reality some questions does not have finite answers. This lack of understanding of the fundamentals of nature could lead to scientific theorems built on false pretenses.

    Kurt Gödel two theories of incompleteness:
    “Any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete. In particular, for any consistent, effectively generated formal theory that proves certain basic arithmetic truths, there is an arithmetical statement that is true, but not provable in the theory.”“For any formal effectively generated theory T including basic arithmetical truths and also certain truths about formal provability, if T includes a statement of its own consistency then T is inconsistent.”

    In addition to what I did not cover there are logical fallacies that creep into the scope of the Scientific Method and the Scientific Community.The fallacy fallacy - Presuming that because a claim has been poorly argued or a fallacy has been made that it is necessarily wrong.Burden of Proof – Saying the burden of proof lies not with person making the claim but have someone else to disprove it. The Texas Sharpshooter – cherry-picking data clusters to suit an argument, or finding a pattern to fit a presumption. Ad hominem – Attacking your opponent’s character or personal traits instead of engaging with their argument. Half followers of science will take a dogmatic approach in taking an authoritative position in science without elaborating original connective findings of their own.
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    Dec 18 2013: Do you have a better alternative?
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      Dec 18 2013: Yes, he's suggesting an alternative, less fact (less everything actually) based scientific method, it goes like this:

      1) Get a gut reaction to a situation,
      2) Introduce the facts and logic,
      3) Compare the facts and logic to your intuition,
      4) If they agree you may be on to a fundamental truth,
      5) If they disagree, try to resolve the disagreement,
      6) If they cannot be resolved, throw out the facts, logic and intuition,
      7) Repeat step 1---Get a gut reaction.
      • Dec 18 2013: Jimmy,

        Isn't this very close to the scientific method?

        Create a hypothesis
        Create an experiment to test the hypothesis
        Check if the results support or disprove the hypothesis
        Create another hypothesis and try again (note: support of 1 experiment does not prove they hypothesis, need many experiments)
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          Dec 18 2013: I wouldn't say that it's very close no... It resembles the scientific method but I'm sure that you can spot the differences, and the more you inspect his method the more you'll come to the conclusion that his ways can lead to just about anything...

          He's not scientifically literate at all and seems to be trying to re-invent the scientific method based on gut feelings which he feels are more correct then data...

          But yes, it resembles the scientific method.
        • Dec 18 2013: The difference is that "facts" are flexible; if your intuition keeps telling you you are missing something important, just because the "facts" say one thing doesn't mean anything---I am suggesting your intuition may be correct and the "facts" wrong.

          We know from jury trials both the defense and prosecution will present their "facts" often diametrically opposed to one another.

          The major difference between the scientific method and II is my persistent in the belief to always challenge the "facts". I do not propose a different hypothesis; I challenge the facts.
        • Dec 18 2013: The single biggest difference between the scientific method and intuitive iteration is that II depends on challenging the facts i.e. before we have a testable hypothesis it is essential to hammer away at the facts. If your intuition tells you the facts are wrong then continue to test them until there is nothing left to test.
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        Dec 18 2013: I meant to say that it should come as no surprise that a Process implemented by humans would be subject to human error. The scientific process aims to address some of these weaknesses.

        also it had delivered incredible increases in knowledge and technically that works in just a few hundred years.

        Intuition has it's place. Great for coming up with hypothesises.not so good proving them.

        Where I see the process go of the rails is small sample sizes.
    • Dec 18 2013: As indicated I do; here is a summation of the problems with science today from "The Suppression of Inconvenient Facts in Physics: The Big Bang Scandal"

      Science is in a state of crisis. Where free inquiry, natural curiosity and open-minded discussion and consideration of new ideas should reign, a new orthodoxy has emerged.

      This 'new inquisition', as it has been called by Robert Anton Wilson[2] consists not of cardinals and popes, but of the editors and reviewers of scientific journals, of leading authorities and self-appointed "skeptics", and last but not least of corporations and governments that have a vested interest in keeping the status quo, and it is just as effective in suppressing unorthodox ideas as the original.

      The scientists in the editorial boards of journals who decide which research is fit to be published, and which is not, the scientists at the patent office who decide what feats nature allows human technology to perform, and which ones it does not, and the scientists in governmental agencies who decide what proposals to fund, and not to fund, either truly believe that they are in complete knowledge of all the fundamental laws of nature, or they purposely suppress certain discoveries that threaten the scientific prestige of individuals or institutions, or economic interests.

      Research that indicates that an accepted theory is incomplete, severely flawed, or completely mistaken, will be rejected on the grounds that it "contradicts the laws of nature", and therefore has to be the result of sloppiness or fraud. At the heart of this argument is the incorrect notion that theory overrides evidence.

      In true science, theory always surrenders to the primacy of evidence."

      Where I differ from the author is in the need to constantly challenge the "evidence", but we are totally in agreement that theory does not trump fact and fact does not trump intuition.
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        Dec 19 2013: I agree there are issues with the implementation of the process , of the practical realities of scientific endeavours.

        I see a huge proportion of medical papers with findings later proven wrong with better experimental design and larger sample sizes.

        the popular journals are very powerful and the focus send to be on popular papers.not important ones.

        I'm all for improving on these weaknesses or recognising them.

        I think you may also be overplaying the edges of science where things are more speculative. There is a growing wave front with higher levels of uncertainty. But some things are higher confidence and everything subject to improvement based on evidence.

        yet we continue to move forward.

        I'm not sure your intuitive method addresses the problems you raise and it introduces other issues.

        no problem doggedly pursuing a hunch, within reason but hunches Need evidence to confirm they are than hunches.

        I think we could do a better job teaching about science, the process, it's strengths and weaknesses.

        by the way another reality is money. Your unsubstantiated hunches won't attract funding for long.

        I partially agree and challenging the data. Check the measurement precision, the sample size, other factors etc.

        eg if gravitational calculations indicate 10 moons but you can only detect 5, maybe you need a better telescope.

        But if the observations conclusively contradict a hypothesis and the test method is sound, the hypothesis needs work to better reflect observable reality.
        • Dec 19 2013: Truth matters. Scientific truth has replaced religious truth. The high priests of science are viewed as icons and science has placed itself on the pedestal of reason, yet so often the public perception of scientists bears no resemblance to the truth. The truth is that scientists are human and are driven by the same human emotions, desires and foibles that the average American experiences. Many scientists do have “pure” motivation i.e. they have a thirst for knowledge, they have the thrill of discovery, the fun of thinking and the desire to improve the condition of humanity through improvements in our understanding of the physical world and in such things as drug therapy and surgical techniques. To be good at anything requires personal ambition; you can add to that priority, power and prestige are coin of the realm in science.
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    Dec 18 2013: The question, “Is the scientific method the best way to get at the “truth”?” is not supported in any way by the quotes from Broad & Wade or even Babbage, who appear to focus on the behavior of scientists, not the method they espouse. In addition, placing the word “truth” in quotes would seem to imply that products of the scientific method may, in some way, lack verity or could even be nonfactual. One would hope this is not the intent of the questioner.

    Until a more sound process is developed, the scientific method remains the most objective, nonbiased process to achieve greater understanding of the universe. The scientific method’s key attributes include data, objectivity, transparency, repeatability, falsifiability and provisional understanding, each of which would require many pages to discuss. That said, the human factor is, at the same time, the most relevant and error prone element in the process of advancing scientific knowledge. We can only strive to account for biases, but may not fully remove them—we would appear to require an “observer.” That said, the results of hard scientific inquiry are not subject to cultural prejudices—in other words, there is no Arabian Astronomy, British Biology or Chinese Chemistry.

    In the final analysis, criticisms of science are always welcome, whether by a scientist like Babbage, or a critic from outside the scientific community, and should serve to improve, if not reinforce the validity of the scientific method. But we must always remain vigilant to separate attacks against scientists from the discipline and method they represent.
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      Dec 18 2013: Yes, but have you thought about the game of chess!? I'm not sure if you've read enough to get the joke...

      The rule with Richard is to KISS... but even that does not help...
    • Dec 18 2013: If the scientific method were conducted by computers you might be right, but it is being done by flawed human beings who may or may not have pure motives when it comes to a search for the "truth". Where the scientific method fails is its determination of fact. Fact is often derived from the physical world and the physical world lies and lies and lies but scientists often do not see through the lies and produce false facts.

      In the fields of physics, astronomy and geology, I have routinely seen "facts" that are so thoroughly corrupted and derogated that they bear no semblance to reality. Some of these false "facts" have persisted for a decade e.g. the Eclipse Data from 1919.

      There is a sizeable debate just how self-correcting science is or can be.

      As for not having "British biology" we do have our icons that are associated with specific disciplines; every country has them.
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    Dec 18 2013: Yes it is, show me a proposal of a better method and I'll genuinely consider it. It's probably not perfect but it's the best we got.

    Oh and for those that don't fully understand what the scientific method is, here's the explanation.

    Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method
    Scishow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8wi0QnYN6s
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    Dec 18 2013: Who knows whether or not the scientific method is the best way to get at the truth. But the scientific method is the best method we CURRENTLY have.
    Also important to mention is that a truth is a truth regardless how you get there. In other words, if the scientific method is flawed and perhaps it is but still gets you to the truth then, for all practical purpose, it works.
    • Dec 18 2013: This is what I propose as an alternative to the scientific method:

      In March 1995 I codified, honed and refined a research methodology called intuitive iteration that I published in the Mensa Bulletin called, “Communal Blind Spot Theory”. This process elevates intuition as a coequal partner to logic. In other words the logical rejection of an argument cannot override a strong intuitive argument. Here intuition can be thought of as “the eye of the mind”, not an emotional component of the mind. Here is the process to use intuitive iteration:

      1) Get a gut reaction to a situation,
      2) Introduce the facts and logic,
      3) Compare the facts and logic to your intuition,
      4) If they agree you may be on to a fundamental truth,
      5) If they disagree, try to resolve the disagreement,
      6) If they cannot be resolved, throw out the facts, logic and intuition,
      7) Repeat step 1---Get a gut reaction.

      Here is the way it works in practice: Suppose a brilliant research scientist is convinced that a certain enzyme is critical to triggering one type of breast cancer. She tests her hypothesis and comes up with a null result. Her "gut" tells her she is missing something, so she does it again. Again a null result. So she drops it for a month, but has this gnawing feeling she is missing something, so she tweaks the pH---again a null result. She drops the experiment for another month but her gut tells her that this enzyme is critical to breast cancer. She tries a slightly different temperature, etc. As long as her "gut" tells her she is missing something she repeats the experiments.

      In today's medical community, few, if any scientists would be given the latitude to perform, essentially, the same experiment dozens of times just because their gut told them they were missing something.

      In chess sometimes I have had to iterate 2000 times before finding the truth. If as few as 1 scientist out of 100 could use this technique effectively we would have a doubling of the rate of major discoveries.
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        Dec 18 2013: What you are describing IS the scientific method Richard... Although it's (the scientific method) a little more refined.
        • Dec 18 2013: We must first, and foremost, reject the teaching attributed to Albert Einstein that the sign of insanity is doing, “the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” What he didn’t recognize is that it is also a great way to create paradigm shifts. Most chess professionals used to go to the wilds of Alaska to find wildflowers (new ideas in chess that no one has seen before); I try to find them on the most heavily traveled pathways in Central Park in New York City---and I invariably succeed.

          I call these oversights “communal blind spots”. If you enter your kitchen and don't see a glass of water on the counter, that is an individual blind spot. If 1000 people enter the kitchen and don't see that glass of water on the counter, that is a communal blind spot. In every discipline I have studied communal blind spots are ubiquitous; intuitive iteration is a method of seeing through them.

          What is absolutely required to achieve optimum usage of intuition is to avoid cluttering your mind with extraneous information. For openers go off face book, get rid of cell phones, computer games and any unnecessary information in general. Minimize information flow. Think of your mind as a receptacle for information. Mindless “noise” e.g television junk prevents your mind from seeing patterns and associations. The kind of out-of-box thinking that becomes routine is that you start asking questions like, “Can the symptoms of a disease cause the disease?” For example have researchers ever force fed mice large quantities of water duplicating excessive thirst and urination to see if it causes or exacerbates diabetes?

          The fundamental flaw with the scientific method is the whole concept of “fact”; from my experience, facts and logic change, but my intuition is usually validated.
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          Dec 18 2013: Don't think there is much to add...lol
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        Dec 18 2013: As Jimmy said, that's how the scientific method in principal works. Nothing new here.
        As to repeating the same test over and over again.....well, unless you work on your own account, you better have a reason why you keep repeating the same thing over and over again.
        But varying parameters in experiments is done all the time. Just scientists usually don't use their guts to tweak parameters but actually understand the effect of the tweaking.
        I have to wonder Richard, did you ever work in research (I did) ?
        Trying something 2000 times in research would probably mean you don't understand the fundamentals of what you are doing.
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          Dec 18 2013: I'm out, you give it a go Harald. Good luck!
        • Dec 18 2013: Check out my article called, "Beyond Plate Tectonics: 'Plate' Dynamics" (Yes I have worked in research environents e.g. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and SUNY at Albany). It is online.

          My 'gut" tells me that the earth is an engine designed to reject heat; it does so by altering densities to optimize heat rejection. Where my theories differ from plate tectonicians is that I believe long-term that episodicity rather than steady-state processes is better at rejecting heat. We see ultrafast, fast, intermediate, slow and ultra-slow spreading centers.

          The way you optimize heat rejection is storing the boundary conduction layer, oceanic plates, in a metastable configuration. Then suddenly, these collapse towards the lower mantle which results in the greatest displacement of mass with the least work hence the greatest heat rejection for the least work.

          This is why you get supercontinents. While my paper is rife with errors, it challenges the basic premise of uniformitarianism i.e. steady-state processes drive the planet. What I have argued is that the plate mosaic is far more effective at rejecting heat provided you remove resistance at the boundaries. Surging episodes i.e. rapid subduction will be favored over steady-state processes because they lower the viscosity of the boundaries.

          Chess is a different "science" than most---we have checkmate or a forced draw---such finality is often not possible in the sciences. It took 2000 tries but I repudiated the theories of the Correspondence World Champion Dr. Hans Berliner who promoted his opening for decades and even offered a $1000 prize to anyone who could beat him. I cooked his theories four different ways on just one move and have been able to defeat the strongest computers presently available in an opening the top book on chess theory, "The Encyclopedia of Chess Openings" says is just fine for Black. I have been able to prove it is a forced win with White.

          Without intuitive iteration, I never would have found it
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        Dec 18 2013: I have to pass, geology is beyond my expertise.
        Regardless of my ignorance in respect to geology, gut feeling might be fine to come up with a new idea, but in the end, you have to follow the scientific process and bring proof and evidence for any claims you make.
        Unfounded claims based on gut feelings aren't likely to convince anybody.
        • Dec 18 2013: Absolutely correct---again, it all hinges on what constitutes fact; I have focused on physics. At Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory it was my privilege to get a primer on fact creation from one of the two greatest marine geologists of all times, Bruce Heezen. What I thought was "fact" was actually interpretation of fact about 3 steps removed. Other scientists would then take my "facts" and construct theories, never realizing how equivocal many of the "facts" were.

          In geology facts are so loosey goosey that the nickname of paleomagneticians is paleomagicians because they can correlate the stripes on a Zebra's back and tell its age. There fact varies from "excellent" to imaginary i.e. pure guess work.

          I was once told by my boss that the correct way to "pick" refraction horizons was after the consumption of three beers! The basic supposition of refraction theory is that you are dealing with layers where you have higher velocity layers underlying lower velocity layers. Obviously, in the seafloor, there are many situation where you are not dealing in layers which is very difficult to determine from seismic refraction data.

          Technicians on board research vessels often used to interpret data with no training: The result was that over rough topography they would often misread the depth to the seafloor; I once did a study to see the difference to see what the technicians thought was the depth of the sea floor and what I thought was the depth of the sea floor. We differed by about an average of 50 meters. If you were then to take the gravity signature you would think that there was 50 meters more basalt underneath the ship and this would throw off the gravity signature.

          When presenting data geologists often provide photographs of their "best" examples of say a fold; they don't publish the "train wreck" photos, this is "acceptable".

          I like the phrase scientific "process" better than scientific method. A gut reaction is step 1; steps 2-6 center around fact "acceptance".
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    Jan 14 2014: ways of knowing are many
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    E G

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    Dec 22 2013: At your question the answer is that it depends on what kind of 'truth' you talk about . Science is the best way to discover some certain kind of 'truth' ; this way was refained , modeled and built all along the human histroty and it's the best for sure .

    To answer to questions regarding the sense of life or our very existence , science is not the tool . We are not only people who reason , we are also people capable of believing , of admiring ........... ; I think we should use the all capabilities we have in our effort of getting to the 'truth' .

    I don't think we should point the fingers to scientists when science fails --- they are human beings after all , they are subject to making mistakes like any of us . I think we should appreciate them for their effort of bringing light in the darkness of ignorance that exists evrywhere , even when there are made mistakes along the way .
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    Dec 21 2013: The scientific method is one way that people can try to find the answer to problems that are bothering them. It's called "scientific", because people like to think of themselves as being very clever, or "scientific" for solving problems. In reality, there's not really anything special about this method, except that it happens to be pretty handy for solving any problem, not just scientific ones. It is really a guess put to test. My car will not start ... try putting in gas ... if not ... test battery ... if not ... etc .... There is usually a trouble shooting chart for everything.

    Most trouble shoot charts are for the common man .... as a example chemists, mechanics, etc ... have the training and the equipment to begin at a proper system / place to enhance the odds of success.

    We all use a if / then type of logic everyday ... some also would call this cause and effect. I have a headache ... take a aspirin ... no .. drink water ... no lay down ... no wait a day and go to doctor ...

    Just a lay mans look at the question.

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    Dec 19 2013: Rather than assailing the obvious shortcomings of imperfect human beings, or denouncing a system that has unlocked the human genome and enabled us to explore the solar system and beyond, a more productive tack might be to offer a superior alternative, which in your case would seem not to be data derived, empirical, measurable, repeatable, falsifiable and accepting of the premise that knowledge is provisional. We await your oracular beneficence.
    • Dec 19 2013: Intuititve iteration is the alternative; it depends on the falsification of fact, not hypotheses. The basic premise is that strong models corrupt the factual record. We must elevate greatly the quality of "facts", not focus on testing hypotheses. Intuitive-driven science depends on everything you say with the proviso that logic and fact does not override intuition; they are coequal elements of thought and must be reconciled.

      My suspicions is that if we were to focus on high quality fact generation, not quantity, science would improve greatly. Surely you are not if favor of the facts created by the biomedical community where we are being told, on the one hand, to take hormone replacement therapy---no wait that might not be a good idea or that testing saccharine with 3000 times the average consumption of diet drinks has no relevance to cancer. There is a vast sea of junk science that drives policy, like the linear no theshhold model of the EPA.

      If were to eliminate all low-quality science that is "out there" fully 90% of all data, "facts" would disappear. II forces the acquision of high-quality facts; the scientific method does not as witnessed by the acceptance by many physicists of the Eclipse data from 1919, probably the lowest quality "factual" record ever attained.

      Eddington created junk science and cemented in place a strong model with it. If the fatuous members of the Royal Society and the Royal Astronomical Society would have repudiated, not endorsed the work of Dyson and Eddington, the course of history would have been different. We might see other models of the universe arise that received support from a true "factual" record.

      To show just how much the scientific method doesn't work, is that Scientific American ran a junk article by Minkle endorsing the Eclipse data of 1919. So now we see almost a Century later that low-quality data has been converted to high-quality data by the Scientific Method.

      Focus on facts, not hypotheses and this travesty ends.
    • Dec 19 2013: Here is an anecdote comparing the scientific method to II. In a complicated opening called the Wilkes-Barre, I enlisted the aid of a top Grandmaster. At his disposal two of the strongest chess playing programs in the World running on multiple processors or, as he phrased it, "Just below industrial strength".

      He provided me with what he said was "perfect" theory and that White was clearly winning. My "gut" told me that White was getting "too much" advantage and that Black could improve. After examining his analysis, I found a key improvement for Black that the GM agreed posed more problems for White, but was still winning for White.

      My "gut" told me he was wrong and I went back a third time and found another key improvement for Black, which, again, the GM said was the best try for Black.

      Anyone who is an average player who was told by a top professional relying on the strongest computers in the world that his analysis was perfect might have relied on the scientific method and agreed with his initial assessment. I relied on II and twice was able to repudiate his analysis.

      With regard to the creation of "fact". 95% of all chess theory written pre-strong chess playing programs is "junk". This same percent of "junk" facts will be mirrored in the sciences as more and more facts are created of vastly superior quality than those generated over the past 200 years.

      An illustration of the corruption of the scientific method occurred when a friend of mine conducted an review of an ethics violation by a physicist. During the course of this interview in an unrelated manner, this scientist presented two graphs. The first showed copper contamination. The second showed no copper contamination. But then my friend noticed that the background readings which are as unique as a fingerprint were the same. The scientist was confronted and agreed he had just used white-out on the peak. The physicists present indicated this was standard procedure; sometimes time constrainst forced this!
  • Dec 19 2013: The biggest problem with the scientific method is the large number of scientists who violate the scientific method and set back good science, in some cases, decades:

    “The world of science was stunned, and the hopes of many people dashed when Professor Hwang Woo Suk of Seoul National University was recently found guilty of massive scientific fraud. Until 2006 he was considered one of the world’s leading experts in cloning and stem cell research. Yet he was found by his own university to have fabricated all the cell lines he claimed, in articles published in Science in 2004 and 2005, to have derived from cloned human embryos”

    “By the time he was exposed, Hwang had been given the title of leading scientist in Korea by the government. A postage stamp had been issued in his honour, showing a paralyzed man leaping out of a wheelchair to embrace his lady love. Schoolchildren read specially produced stories of the indefatigable scientists who supposedly worked 365 days a year for the sake of saving humanity from disease and disability.” This is from an online article by David S. Oderberg, “Science, Stem Cells, and Fraud,” http://www.intellectum.org/articles/topics/Scientific%20fraud%20and%20Stem%Cells%20(David%20Oderberg).pdf.

    “In 2002, the famed Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California had to fire physicist Victor Ninov, when it was discovered he was behind a fraud relating to their 1999 announcement that they had made the heaviest atomic elements so far synthesized. The original article, published in the leading journal Physical Review Letters, was retracted in 2001. Again, Jan Hendrik Schon, a physicist at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, was fired in 2002 for having falsified data at least 16 times between 1998 and 2001. He had been regarded as a star researcher in electronics, had published eighty papers in two years, and was hailed as a future Nobel Prize winner.
  • Dec 19 2013: From W.J. Beaty we see the 1996 article called, “Symptoms of Pathological Skepticism” “Many members of the mainstream scientific community react with extreme hostility when presented with certain claims.” “The scientists react not with pragmatism and a wish to get to the bottom of things, but instead with the same tactics religious groups use to suppress heretics: hostile emotional attacks, circular reasoning, dehumanizing of the 'enemy', extreme closed-mindedness, intellectually dishonest reasoning, underhanded debating tactics, negative gossip, and all manner of name-calling and character assassination.” http://.eskimo.com/~billb/pathsk2.txt

    The drumbeat to drive out any researcher of cold fusion culminated by calling cold fusion research “pathological” science, when, in fact it is pathological skepticism that is evident. Hot fusion scientists corrupted the data at the start and went to the Department Of Energy with the corrupted data and recommended that no research dollars go to cold fusion research much to the detriment of our national security.

    The notion that scientists are so noble that they are not driven by ordinary pressures is one of the “ivory tower” misconceptions about science. From first hand experience the authors know, that this concept is utterly without foundation.

    Hot fusion scientists, in order to deny funding to cold fusion scientists installed one of their cronies in the patent office to make sure no cold fusion patents were issued; there were threats that if even one graduate student worked on cold fusion researchers would get "no funding from Washington". Professor O'M Bockris, one of the greatest electrochemists of the 20th Century experienced a level of ostracism his wife claimed was worse than Nazi Germany.
  • STV V

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    Dec 18 2013: Its a YES and a NO and depends on how we define a scientific method....."Science" refers to a body of knowledge itself, of the type that can be rationally explained and reliably applied.
    To get to the truth - one must look at things holistically and in totality and not with a filtered view!
  • Dec 18 2013: Remember that the "scientific method" is NOT an absolute truth.

    People often forget this. People don't in general realize that it's "the best we know right now".

    A good example of this would be... At one time scientists thought the world was flat, now we know it isn't.
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      Dec 19 2013: No one applying the scientific method would assert asset the earth is flat I would think.
      • Dec 19 2013: No but according to Lawrence Krauss the universe has 3 shapes bell curve, sphere, or it's flat. Sounds familiar, but this time they got their fancy computers and mathematical equations to prove their point with 99.9 percent accuracy :P
  • Dec 18 2013: We no longer have a scientific method, we have elevated science to such a high station in life approaching religion in fervor that we even attach divinity to its most famous proponent:

    It is shocking how often divinity is attached to Einstein. Einstein even called himself a “Jewish Saint”. Einstein was called the New Messiah by Clark7. He was compared to Jesus Christ and Moses by Bodanis8 and the Skeptical Inquirer9.

    On the cover SI the editors morph a picture of Albert Einstein on the left half of the cover with a man with a halo clearly intending to be Jesus Christ on the right. Then on page 34 there is a cartoon showing Albert Einstein writing on the blackboard E=mc2; then a finger from the sky points to a stone tablet where we see the phrase , “Let there be light” So just like Moses Einstein got a stone tablet9.

    We see it in the title of the book by Abraham Pais’s10, 2008, ‘Subtle is the Lord…’ The Science and Life of Albert Einstein. What is evident is that we can glean from this title the slant of the book because Pais must have known that this was a false translation of the phrase11. A correct translation is closer to tricky, shrewd or crafty is the Lord, but malicious he is not. Finally, Miller claimed that Einstein was “deified”12.

    7. Clark, R.W. 1984. Einstein: The Life and Times, Avon Books, New York, p. 284.

    8. Bodanis, D. 2000. E=mc2: A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation, Berkley Publishing Group, New York p. 207

    9. Skeptical Inquirer Special Issue, 1999. “Science & Religion: Conflict or Conciliation,” 23, 4, July/August.

    10. Pais, A. 2008. ‘Subtle is the Lord…’ The Science and Life of Albert Einstein, W. W. Norton and Company, Inc. New York, London.

    11. Ohanian, H.C. 2008. Einstein’s Mistakes The Human Failings of Genius, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, p. xii

    12. Miller, A.I. 1996, Insights of Genius: Imagery and Creativity in Science and Art, Springer Verlag, New York, p. 90.
    • Dec 18 2013: I understand some of the rant, but how I see it science and religion are just points of prospectives of trying to rationalize oneself in infinity. If you are referring to religion to fill in the gaps it will fall just as short just as of science, for example the bible has over 400,000 variances. Those variances could lead to different conclusions. The search for "truth" is some what cynical. For the only thing that holds true in truth is that it is transformative and it is only applicable and or adaptive during a certain time and space.

      If we are trying to get a better understanding of everything we must have a polymath approach - embracing all bodies of knowledge.
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      Dec 19 2013: I'd suggest most people on Ted don't see scientists as deities or treat science as a religion.

      a respect for the process of science and what it delivers, for the geniuses who have lived amongst us and made amazing discoveries about life and the universe backed by evidence is what I see most often.

      I suggest great scientists are entitled to respect for their work just as much as saints and doctors and architects are entitled to respect for their good work.

      Moses, well we don't even know if he existed. And the bible describes him as a nasty piece of work.

      science gave us penicillin, medicine, mobility etc. Religion mostly gives us lies and probably false consolation.

      as to the lies, if you believe in one particular religion than you think the other3000 are lies.

      Buddha and Jesus and Confucius had some helpful teachings.

      The old testament is not much good for anything being a mythical history of a tribe worshipping a war god but also fertility gods at certain times. Kill these people or those people.

      anyway we do have a scientific method, a toolkit to work things out reliably and continue to improve.

      I suggest 99% don't treat scientists as gods or science as a religion.

      and science actually is more reliable at helping us get closer to the truth than all the conflicting religions and deserves reasonable appreciation. Where's religion should be seen as an unreliable way to understand the universe.
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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.