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Science: the fatal flaws


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#1    pantodragon

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 03:18 PM

Science is so riddled with flaws that it is difficult to know where to start.  A quote from Bertrand Russell is probably as good a place as any:

“What these arguments (Hume’s) prove --- and I do not think the proof can be controverted --- is, that induction is an independent principle, incapable of being inferred either from experience or from other logical principles, and that without this principle science is impossible.”

All of experimental science rests on proof by induction ie I hold an object above the ground and then let it go, and I observe that it falls to the ground.  I repeat this experiment another 10, or 100 times, and each time the same thing happens: the object falls to the ground.  I then conclude that this is what will ALWAYS happen so that, if at any time in the future I try this experiment again, I will see the object fall to the ground.  Actually I cannot justify making this extension.  All I can say is that every time I have held an object above the ground and then let it go it has fallen to the ground, but I cannot infer that THE NEXT time I do the same experiment THE SAME THING WILL HAPPEN.  Maybe next time it will fly away!

The scientific method it therefore invalid because it rests on proof by induction.

Another problem with the experimental method is the way it isolates objects/events from the rest of the world when it wants to experiment upon them.  Most experimental science is performed in a laboratory where it has to be ASSUMED that everything will behave just the same as it would if it was in its natural environment.  This ties up with OBJECTIVITY, because in order to believe in the possibility of objectivity you have to ASSUME that it is possible for a person to perform an experiment without influencing it in any way.

What this all comes down to is the assumption that the universe is composed of substances which will behave just the same whether they are in the universe or isolated from it.  The best example is the Gaia principle: one may view the Earth as a single organism in which all the elements have their function and are all heavily interdependent such that one cannot understand the function or nature of any one of its parts, an animal, say, without understanding its place in the whole, and one cannot alter any part of the whole without there being repercussions throughout the whole.

Or, one could put it this way.  The universe may have the nature of the human body, all the parts working together such that, if you remove one part from the body and try to observe how it works, by the very act of removing it from the body you are preventing it from behaving normally.  Even if you try to carry out experiments on an organ that is still in situ, cause and effect cannot be isolated because of the extreme inter-dependency of the component parts.

So, objectivity is unjustifiable, as is the idea that the components of the universe can be isolated from the rest of the universe and from each other and can behave independently of each other and the rest of the universe.

I could go on listing assumption after assumption that science makes in order to function.  It is rather like the Ptolemaic view of the heavens having been transferred to science: Ptolemy tried to account for the motions of the stars and planets by imagining that they were controlled by some vast machine composed of cogs and wheels, a sort of Grand Orary.   Because he assumed that the Earth was the centre of things and everything moved round a stationary Earth, the stars seemed to wander all over the place, so to recreate their motion he had to add wheel and more wheels and wheels within wheels till the whole machine became the most nightmarishly complicated clockwork imaginable.

Modern science has replaced the clockwork machine with mathematics, but in order to get the mathematical description of the universe to work it has had to add assumption after assumption, and assumptions within assumptions!  A few of these are: that there is a real, material world; that the cosmos is ordered mathematically, that it is rational and logical; that the fundamental laws that govern the universe are the same everywhere and at all times; that the universe consists of what we can detect with our senses and scientific instruments and nothing more; that science can explain everything; that every detail of everything we can see is important; that everything goes on behaving in the same way even when it is not being observed; that the evidence of the human senses is untrustworthy unless backed by scientific instruments……..  

But, to summarise: the three most devastating flaws are: proof by induction, the assumption that objectivity is possible, and the assumption that the universe is ‘rational’.

If we move on to particulars, consider Newtonian physics.  It was Newton that introduced the concept of a ‘force’ to account for apples falling to the ground and planets orbiting the world.  (I have been challenged on this point before, but I still think that the ancients had no concept of a force.  However, the precise origin of the idea is not important.) This ‘force’ is very mysterious, nothing that you can detect directly, and has the odd aspect that it ‘acts at a distance’ ie an object in space can exert an influence on another object in space even when the two objects are very distant from one another.  I mean, if I push a chair and it moves then there is nothing so very mysterious going on, but if that chair is at the other side of the room and I have moved it without touching it --- that IS mysterious, yet this is how gravity works --- seems more like magic to me! (or ‘worked’, since Einstein came up with a different account of gravity.  It is now a matter of space being structured rather than a force which acts at a distance --- but that just transfers the problem, just relocates the mystery.)

Newton invented gravity because he had to account for why objects deviate from motion in a straight line: he held that the ‘natural’ state for any object is either ‘at rest’, ie not moving, or else in motion in a straight line.  Then if an object is disturbed from rest, or deviates from motion in a straight line, one has to find some ‘reason’, and the reason that Newton came up with was the force of gravity.  But this is all pure fantasy.  There is no justification for assuming that straight line motion is the ‘natural’ state, much less for inventing gravity.  One might equally well assume, as the ancients did, that every object is moving in its natural way, so that if something falls to the ground it is because it is natural for it to do so, and if something moves in a straight line, then that is natural also.

This phenomenon, the existence of competing theories, is common in science, and the outcome is also common: competition leaves only one-man-standing, and the rest get buried, or dismissed in some way.  Often Occam’s razor makes its appearance here: when there are two possible explanations or theories, the simplest should be chosen.  This sounds good, but is bad practice.  When there are two theories offered to explain some phenomenon, then you do not throw out one in favour of the other unless, or until, you have some real justification for doing so.  It may turn out to be the case that BOTH are ‘true’, that the phenomenon cannot be fully described by just one theory.  It may be that one theory is true for some of the time, and the other at other times.  At any rate, OCCAM’S RAZOR IS BAD PRACTICE.

To return to Newton and gravity, one of the equations to come out of this is:  f=ma, that is, force = mass multiplied by acceleration.  So, having invented the mysterious ‘force’, he then has to go on and develop a mysterious ‘property’ of matter, called ‘mass’.  This means that when I hold a rock over my head and it feels heavy, I am to suppose that this is not because rocks are heavy, but it is because rocks have a property called ‘mass’, and the Earth has the same property, and that because of this, the Earth can force the rock to move, to ‘fall’ downwards, and that even though there is no contact between the rock and the Earth.  (I am also supposed to assume that the rock WILL fall and hit me on the head if I let it go, and that only because it has always done so every other time I have performed this experiment --- however ‘reasonable’ that seems, it is not justifiable, and, if human senses are to be believed, not even TRUE.  Nor would I necessarily assume that the rock would fall if I were to carry out the experiment in reality rather than just in thought.  I would ‘sense’ the situation AT THE TIME.)

Science really is a VERY MYSTERIOUS business.  It is like looking at the world, and one sees something at one time, and then one looks back and things have changed a little, so the scientist goes off and invents an invisible and totally mysterious mechanism to account for how and why the world got from the first state to the second!

Or, it’s like seeing a clock face on a wall, and one sees the hands move round the face, but one cannot see what is behind the wall, all one can see are the hands moving on the face.  The scientist then goes away and invents the idea of a clockwork mechanism that is behind the wall, which he cannot and never will be able to see, but so long as he can successfully predict where the hands of the clock are going to be at some future time, then he is satisfied his invented mechanism has some reality.  And so he invents a whole fantasy world of forces and properties and particles and waves and so long as he can go on making his predictions, he thinks that everything is hunky-dory.  That his simplistic, mechanistic view of the universe may be causing all sorts of problems which, BECAUSE of his simplistic view he cannot connect with his activities, passes him by completely.

Even on the practical level science is useless as a way of knowing the world; it is just too cumbersome and unwieldy, and it’s getting worse by the day.  And it is not as if there are not other ways of getting to know the world.  Scientists normally scoff at the religious ways of knowing, though there are quite a variety, many of the Eastern ways of knowing being quite different from the Judaic/Christian ones, which amount to ‘hearing the voice of god’ or of his angels etc.

For myself, I favour none of these.  Rather I go for the ‘natural’ way of knowing, which I have encapsulated in the following haiku:

Cat, asleep, misses
Nothing.  Scientist, awake,
Misses everything.


Finally, the obvious question: how could something so wrong and misconceived have got such a hold of people?  Because science is about that ‘which men desire above all else’: power.

I have written a companion piece to this which represents the world as I see it, mostly through poetry, the contemplation of which can lead to a better understanding of the world:  Towards a better world.


#2    Rlyeh

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 03:27 PM

View Postpantodragon, on 18 April 2013 - 03:18 PM, said:

All of experimental science rests on proof by induction ie I hold an object above the ground and then let it go, and I observe that it falls to the ground.  I repeat this experiment another 10, or 100 times, and each time the same thing happens: the object falls to the ground.  I then conclude that this is what will ALWAYS happen so that, if at any time in the future I try this experiment again, I will see the object fall to the ground.  Actually I cannot justify making this extension.  All I can say is that every time I have held an object above the ground and then let it go it has fallen to the ground, but I cannot infer that THE NEXT time I do the same experiment THE SAME THING WILL HAPPEN.  Maybe next time it will fly away!
Do you have a model in which it would fly away, or is this just another of pantodragon's mindless rants?

Edit: In another thread you claimed to have worked in science, odd then that you can't get past the hypothesis stage..

Edited by Rlyeh, 18 April 2013 - 03:36 PM.


#3    keithisco

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 05:05 PM

"Or, it’s like seeing a clock face on a wall, and one sees the hands move round the face, but one cannot see what is behind the wall, all one can see are the hands moving on the face.  The scientist then goes away and invents the idea of a clockwork mechanism that is behind the wall, which he cannot and never will be able to see, but so long as he can successfully predict where the hands of the clock are going to be at some future time, then he is satisfied his invented mechanism has some reality"

You see, this is where your whole diatribe goes horribly wrong - the mechanism was invented first, the clock hands afterwards.... WHY can the "Scientist" (actually Engineer) not be able to see this?? :whistle:


#4    pantodragon

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 02:58 PM

View Postkeithisco, on 18 April 2013 - 05:05 PM, said:



You see, this is where your whole diatribe goes horribly wrong - the mechanism was invented first, the clock hands afterwards.... WHY can the "Scientist" (actually Engineer) not be able to see this?? :whistle:

It was, actually, a metaphor, not the history of horology.


#5    pantodragon

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 03:00 PM

View PostRlyeh, on 18 April 2013 - 03:27 PM, said:

Do you have a model in which it would fly away, or is this just another of pantodragon's mindless rants?

Edit: In another thread you claimed to have worked in science, odd then that you can't get past the hypothesis stage..

I believe I have elsewhere said that life is a dream and that the world is not organised by mechanistic rules, but by meaning.  I think it is easy to conceive of a rock in a dream flying away.  I beleieve there have been people who have seen rocks fly away.  You may find it useful, although I doubt it, to read my new post: Why science appears to work.


#6    Rlyeh

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 03:10 PM

View Postpantodragon, on 20 April 2013 - 03:00 PM, said:

I believe I have elsewhere said that life is a dream and that the world is not organised by mechanistic rules, but by meaning.  I think it is easy to conceive of a rock in a dream flying away.  I beleieve there have been people who have seen rocks fly away.  You may find it useful, although I doubt it, to read my new post: Why science appears to work.
I see why you dislike science, it makes you look like a kook.


#7    Frank Merton

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 03:13 PM

Pentodragon is so far beyond the rest of us that what he says just sounds to us like insane ramblings.  Sometimes I have that problem too.


#8    Rlyeh

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 03:19 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 20 April 2013 - 03:13 PM, said:

Pentodragon is so far beyond the rest of us that what he says just sounds to us like insane ramblings.  Sometimes I have that problem too.
Must be all that meth.





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