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Old 13th June 2011, 03:14 PM   #100
stevea
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Join Date: Aug 2007
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Originally Posted by kenkoskinen View Post
"The relative success (with notable failures and setbacks) of the scientific model is no proof that it is the only, or best means to create models from observations."

Yes it is, at least until something better comes along. Whatever it might be, its superiority would have to be proven (did I use that word?).
It is trivial to construct examples where the scientific method is suboptimal. For example the "Occam's razor" feature requires that we choose the hypothesis which matches the data and has the least number of presuppositions (simplest). But obviously sometimes the simplest hypothesis is not the correct one.

Clearly "the scientific method" is not the only possible model building scheme. At least in some cases it is not the optimal model building scheme. It's almost unimaginable that it's the "best" in any meaningful sense.


Quote:
"Science merely produces a model of what we subjectively observe, and "the scientific method" is nothing more than a statement of principals for model-building."

We don't subjectively observe models. Models or theories are concepts we develop via reason i.e. including mathematics and observation/detection. We then use the models to continue comparing them to observations/detections and experimental data. If it continues to be accurate, then okay. If anomalies appear ... it's time to do some checking. It might lead to amendments to the model, scrapping it and/or creating a new model.
If you think I said that we subjectively observe models, then you have misread it entirely. We subjectively observe experiments. We collect this subjective data and using the sci-method produce a model of the subjective observations. As you describe we continue to refine and revise the model - but that doesn't change the fact that we are modeling based on subjective observations and comparing the results of the model to other subjective observations. I'll suggest read some D.Hume or other early empiricists philosophy.


Quote:
""the scientific method" is nothing more than a statement of principals for model-building."

No so, model building in only the conceptual part of the process.

"It's an error to confuse the models predictive methods with the actual mechanisms underlying the observations, or the observations with "reality"."
No - you are confusing my term "model building" with creation of a single testable hypothesis. The sci-method requires the creation of a single testable hypothesis. But once verified a hypothesis is added the the sum of (tentatively) accepted hypotheses that together form a coherent model of the physical observations.

We have one (rather fuzzy) model of physical reality that we call "science" that incorporates all tested-and-so-far-valid hypotheses.

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True ... the detection/observation methodologies/equipment etc. are not the same as the theory. However if the theory accurately and consistently predicts/describes/explains the data it's hitting something. We call it things in the real world.
We can never know "the real world" through our subjective senses. It's a pleasant and common fantasy to assume that our observations accumulate a picture of reality rather than a picture of subjective human observations.


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If I follow you ... you would like to delete the terms "objective" & "reality." I fail to see how the world or science would benefit from doing that.
I'm not interested in benefiting science at the moment - I'm interested in creating a coherent picture of exactly what science is and does. If we were to encounter some other advanced alien culture that understood how to make predictions and extrapolations about their subjective observations of the physical world - then we might find that their method of developing a model and our "science" are quite different. We might find that our monkey brains have "blind spots" that cause us to create incorrect or sub-optimal models, or perhaps there is something better than our application of probability to science.

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Admittedly science isn't the pursuit of perfect truth but rather is very much a process of refinement of models and observations. The goal is to make corrections along the trail to find better models/theories and observations of objective reality! Yes ... the term "objective reality" is a fine concept and the term "subjective" is not superior.
Sience has absolutely nothing to do with "truth". The point of science is to create a model that permits prediction and extrapolation of observations from observations. If the observations are distorted or a sham - then the sci-method may still work, but it isn't modeling "reality" or "truth"; it's modeling subjective human observations.
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