## Why Is Science Based On So Much Faith?

 Quote by loseyourname Nope. Science is the method by which these hypotheses are tested, not the theories derived from the results of the tests.
Of course, dictionary.com is wrong. Doh! "The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena." So Newton's Law of gravity is not science? E=mc^2 is not science? Science is the method by which E=mc^2 is tested? Well, that's news to me.

 If that's the definition of faith, then it's a trivial definition. I will again contend that Descartes proved that any belief other than the belief in one's own existence requires faith by that definition.
I agree, it is trivial. It remains nonetheless that science involves faith. As I said many posts ago, this is not a profound or new fact.

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 Quote by phoenixthoth Of course, dictionary.com is wrong. Doh! "The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena." So Newton's Law of gravity is not science? E=mc^2 is not science? Science is the method by which E=mc^2 is tested? Well, that's news to me.
Nope. They are laws of science. They are not science. Science is just the method by which we determine, test, and falsify these laws.

 I agree, it is trivial. It remains nonetheless that science involves faith. As I said many posts ago, this is not a profound or new fact.
Okay, then why state it? It seems to me that TEN was attempting to belittle science. I'm glad you agree with me that he has no case.

 Quote by loseyourname Nope. They are laws of science. They are not science. Science is just the method by which we determine, test, and falsify these laws.
So your saying the laws of science are not science and that science is just the method you mentioned?

How do you define faith?

 Okay, then why state it? It seems to me that TEN was attempting to belittle science. I'm glad you agree with me that he has no case.
I don't know.

TENYEARS didn't seem to me to back up his case at all. I suppose we were supposed to take it on faith. :)

I don't see why science being based on faith would belittle science. I guess he does strike a nerve when faith is at all linked to science.

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 Quote by phoenixthoth So your saying the laws of science are not science and that science is just the method you mentioned?
Well, jeez, you just restated exactly what I already stated. Of course that's what I'm saying!

 How do you define faith?
I suppose I define it as belief without scepticism, usually in things that are postulated to be unprovable (don't have to be, though). {Edit}: Not that I think I have the exclusive capacity to define the word, but that's at least what I mean when I use it. Obviously, this usage isn't consistent. I could try to build a case that my definition is more in line with common historical usage of the word, but I don't even know that that is necessarily the case. I could very well be using the word incorrectly for all I know. As long as I let you know what I mean by a given word before using it, does it really make a difference?

 TENYEARS didn't seem to me to back up his case at all. I suppose we were supposed to take it on faith. :) I don't see why science being based on faith would belittle science. I guess he does strike a nerve when faith is at all linked to science.
Science being based on faith, using your definition of faith, wouldn't belittle science. It just seemed like TEN was trying to belittle science - you know, "YOu Are aLl fools, Lol, loL, etc, etc." and all that crap. Hopefully he was banned for it and won't bother us any more.

 Recognitions: Gold Member Staff Emeritus loseyourname, would "belief in unfalsifiable claims" be a good definition, or part of a good definition? Then of course you would have to discuss your personal meaning of falsifiable. I for example don't think string theory is manifestly unfalsifiable since there is a real possibility that in the future some falsifiability test may be defined. But the Shroud of Turin is manifestly not falsifiable since every test that suggests it's a fake is always matched by another test that suggests the first one is wrong.

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 Quote by selfAdjoint loseyourname, would "belief in unfalsifiable claims" be a good definition, or part of a good definition? Then of course you would have to discuss your personal meaning of falsifiable. I for example don't think string theory is manifestly unfalsifiable since there is a real possibility that in the future some falsifiability test may be defined. But the Shroud of Turin is manifestly not falsifiable since every test that suggests it's a fake is always matched by another test that suggests the first one is wrong.
That's a pretty good way of defining it, I suppose. A belief in something that is unfalsifiable in principle is a good one. Take, for instance, the claim that God loves us. When we speak of a human x loving another human y, we don't speak in the same terms. It is possible to demonstrate that claim to be false. If we observe human x to be neglecting or harming our doing mean things to human y, we can consider the original claim to be falsified. But to a religious person, no matter what God does to a person, it is done out of love. That claim is not falsifiable by any means whatsoever. It must simply be accepted on faith.

 But to a religious person, no matter what God does to a person, it is done out of love. That claim is not falsifiable by any means whatsoever. It must simply be accepted on faith.
The claim that God does anything to a person is also not falsifiable.

Any time you use the word "God" in a claim, it is not falsifiable. This is pretty clear using most any definition of "God." Therefore, by these definitions, religion is based on faith.

Science, from what little I have learned, is just about what is falsifiable. Therefore, by these definitions, science is not based on faith.

I'm left wondering whether the following is falsifiable:
"The scientific method is valid."

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 Quote by phoenixthoth I'm left wondering whether the following is falsifiable: "The scientific method is valid."
Sure. We test hypotheses using the scientific method. If functional knowledge were never produced using this method, the claim would be falsified. Of course, no scientist would ever make a claim like that. Scientific claims are far less ambiguous. At the very least, you'll need to state what you mean by "valid" and the context you mean it in.

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 Quote by loseyourname Sure. We test hypotheses using the scientific method. If functional knowledge were never produced using this method, the claim would be falsified. Of course, no scientist would ever make a claim like that. Scientific claims are far less ambiguous. At the very least, you'll need to state what you mean by "valid" and the context you mean it in.
Let me get something straight before I continue. What do you mean by "falsifiable?"

It doesn't matter how I define "valid" becaue if you disagree with my conclusion, you'll point to a definition of valid that is convienient for your position.

But here goes nothing anyway: valid:Producing the desired results; efficacious.

So inserting this back, I am wondering if the following statement is falsifiable:
The scientific method produces the desired results and is efficacious.

Implicit in this statement is the word always:
The scientific method always produces the desired results and is efficacious.

What do I mean by desired results? I mean that what is desired is to test a hypothesis.

So I can reduce what I'm wondering, hopefully in a clear enough language with enough common ground:
"The scientific method always tests hypotheses successfully."

Is that falsifiable? I haven't formed an opinion on it yet but I'm wondering if it is not falsifiable, then is it taken on faith? Is the scientific method itself viewed with incredulity and scepticism? Just curious; I'm not a scientist.

Also wondering, H., if you mean that "The scientific method always tests hypotheses successfully" is self-evident?

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 Quote by phoenixthoth So I can reduce what I'm wondering, hopefully in a clear enough language with enough common ground: "The scientific method always tests hypotheses successfully." Is that falsifiable? I haven't formed an opinion on it yet but I'm wondering if it is not falsifiable, then is it taken on faith?
I would say that it is falsifiable. If the scientific method were used to determine that a given hypothesis is false, but later the hypothesis proved true, then the method would be falsified. You cannot say the latter, however, because the scientific method is incapable of proving the truth of a hypothesis; the best any hypothesis can hope to do is resist falsification and become ever more likely.

 Recognitions: Gold Member Staff Emeritus Notice that the scientific method is a social method, and its falsifications happen over time. It might seem for a while that experiment supported a given hypothesis, such as the appearance of the sun's motion seemed to support a geocentric astronomy. But continuing work over many generations falsified this hypothesis.
 Recognitions: Gold Member Science Advisor Staff Emeritus Nereid here again, hoping that harking back to some earlier posts won't be taking this thread away from the interesting, new line it now seems to be moving in ... Thanks Les, those 'faith' classifications are good ... as TEN doesn't seem to be participating though, and as phoenixthoth doesn't seem to have used these ... Do you have the names of the key works (one each would be nice) of your favourites (Locke, Ayer, Peirce), wrt the nature of science? In terms of Les' categories of faith, it would seem that each scientist, as they do their science thing, has this in abundance. For example, that geologist astronaut collecting rocks on the Moon didn't check that he would die if he went collecting without his spacesuit; in labs all over the world, experimental scientists have pragmatic faith that breaking the safety codes will likely lead to injury or death. And as ordinary humans, scientists everywhere have pragmatic faith that the air they breath won't turn into HF or $$\tau$$ neutrinos tomorrow. I would think this is pretty uncontroversial, boring to discuss, and if it's all that there is to TEN's rant (and phoenixthoth's setting up of possible logical inconsistencies), then why are we wasting time on it? Much more interesting is science itself. Good to see that there seems to be a consensus emerging that the core of science is the method, not the results. If we agree on this, then I can appreciate phoenixthoth's puzzlement ... how can you discuss the role of 'faith' in a method? Even worse, the method has a large social component; it's independent of the beliefs of the participants OK, at least it's more like an epiphenomenon. To see this, two analogies may be helpful (like all analogies they break when stretched): 1) 'the market', as in economics. While individuals create a market (price) through their (individual) actions, and the beliefs and motivations of the players may be extraordinarily diverse, the market is particularly efficient at crunching all the relevant information. 2) language. Almost all of us are fluent speakers of at least one language. While in many ways it's early (neuroscience) days, the brain mechanisms for the conversion of the idea to speech sounds (and the reception of air pressure variations to 'understanding') are invisible to us ... we are conscious only of the result. (and BTW Les, introspection has apparently been of only limited help in working out the 'how' of language, in the sense I'm describing here). So what? In the first analogy, the 'faith' (beliefs) of the players is irrelevant to the outcome; in the second, the brain mechanisms cannot be said - even by TEN - to have 'faith'. Oh, and in case anyone is tempted to get carried away with the 'social' part (no, this is NOT a strawman; read Feyerabend, or some of the 'sociologists of science'), whether I believe that the source of ideas on astrophysics come from the voices of my ancestors whispering to me through the rustling of leaves in my favourite oak tree, or a desire to banish Newton's 'rape manual', is irrelevant.
 Recognitions: Homework Help Science Advisor Similar thing: In computer science, you have increasing layers of abstraction. You have compilers running on code that was made by previous compilers etc... until you get down to the "1010001011" level. You have to trust that all the layers below the one you're working on function correctly. I need to know that when I say "Print "HI"" In QBasic that on almost any computer "Hi" will pop up. etc etc... It seems to work fine in computer science.

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 Quote by phoenixthoth Also wondering, H., if you mean that "The scientific method always tests hypotheses successfully" is self-evident?