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How wrong could science be?

  1. Aug 30, 2007 #1

    I'm thinking about how sure , like 100% sure, we used to be about the earth being flat and how everything used to rotate around earth and god knows what else that has been proven "wrong". All these things we used to be so sure of, as sure then as sure as we are about science now I bet. I mean we HAD to have evolved and it seems everyone and there dog(not everyone but a lot) loves this big bang theory. We're so "sure" we are the distances we are away from other celestial body's, we're "sure" the
    universe is moving outward we've based our entire view of the universe on how sure we are of these things. What gives us the right to say anything is for sure? Yes I know our tech has gotten better, we can see further measure smaller and so on but who's to say using a ruler is the best way to measure distance? And when it comes down to it it's all relative anyway we try and try to have our perfect test zone with no impurities so we can see the reaction of something in its "resting" form so we can get the best answer possible. But it seems that every so often something else is added in the mix. What force or whatever is acting on these tests that we don't know of? Will this force effect the out come? Sure it will. Now we're back to square one trying to test this new idea in our new even better cleaner environment and the test subject is "resting" like never before, we get the answers, believe in that for a bit then something else comes up. I'll admit a lot of the time it seems the next discovery found is either in the right direction we are going or at least not far off. After all Newtonian math didn't have to re-written just modified to fit present day equations yes?. Anyway back to the original question How wrong could science be? Not the complete opposite, like oh my god it's all wrong God is here and we're all goin' to hell but just some possible scenarios if the field of science you were in had a major break threw that totally went spin cycle on ya. Something where the values and old equations won't work anymore. How would you start from scratch?

    I mean I don't have to tell you guys how much faith there is in quantum physics it seems:
    This can't happen without That. We've never seen That, but This happens so That must happen too.

    Again a kinda disclaimer I know particles have been found where the math had been done years before. This is a logical way to go about it. After all we're lookin for a simple description of the universe so one day we know whats going to happen when with tremendous accuracy. So when you find something you were counting on finding, it kinda solidifies how you went about finding it. But we can only test and find things that we can perceive. This math might work now but for how long?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 30, 2007 #2


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    The difference is that there was no reason to believe that the Earth was flat other than someone said so, or said God had told them.
    What science says is generally based on some evidence, sometimes that is wrong but the new version had better explain all the exisitng results at least as well as the old ones.

    The other difference is that science is quite happy for new ideas to come along.
    Look at relativity, Newton had been right and believed for 300 years and the only thing missing was that he couldn't quite explain a small drift in the orbit of mecury.
    Relativity comes along and says that 10mph + 10mph don't add to 20mph, that you weight more when you are moving but time goes slower - and everybody (almost) immediately agrees and gets on with the new theory!

    You can't have a new law that says all the old equations don't work anymore if they were working before. You can say, it's more complicated and the old equations only worked at low speed or low energy and the real equations are actualy XXXX - but you can't suddenly have cannon balls not moving in paraboloas because you came up with a new law!
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2007
  4. Aug 30, 2007 #3
    This is the typical anti-science argument and why most people seem to dismiss scientific claims in a discussion. "But they've been wrong about a million different things so how can you use science to formulate an argument?" Because science is indifferent and doesn't claim omniscience. That's why lab work is done and data is recorded. So we can formulate an accurate body of knowledge. Science, like baseball, is a game of failure. It doesn't make it meaningless or useless in any way, shape or form.

    Nothing is for sure. But they have compiled a significant amount of evidence to infer this.

    Science, like baseball, is a game of failure. Get use to it.

    It doesn't go back to square one though. It's a progression. There is no regression. Our mistakes are based on our last phase of our progression. Not all of the phases.
  5. Aug 30, 2007 #4


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    This thread is just a simple misunderstanding of history and of science. No serious scientist ever though the world was flat. People who could have made good scientists knew the world was round long before science itself was even invented.

    Next, you really need to learn about the scientific method and what a theory is. We are only "sure" of things to the limit of what the scientific method allows.
  6. Sep 23, 2007 #5
    I look at the process like a growing tree --sometimes it bears fruit, sometimes limbs die off, and, then sometimes you have to trim it (limbs that grew in the wrong direction)
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