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Science and Truth

  1. Jul 1, 2004 #1
    The “scientific method” forms the heart of legitimacy for the natural sciences. This method consists in assembling evidence, combining that evidence with assumptions, and analyzing the combination in a logical manner to develop a hypothesis. This hypothesis is the bases for predicting what should happen in certain conditions if this hypothesis is true. Evidence is assembled to test the validity of the hypothesis. If the evidence indicates that the hypothesis has not been proven to be invalid then other predictions based on the hypothesis are used to construct additional experiments to further test its legitimacy.

    The validity of a hypothesis can only be determined by empirical evidence. Empirical evidence is obtained by observation alone. Scientific observation can only show that a hypothesis has not yet been proven to be illegitimate. The empirical evidence derived from a test of a hypothesis proves, not that the hypothesis is true, but only that the hypothesis has not been proven to be untrue. Science does not deal in absolute truth but only in probability.

    The reality of natural science is matter. When the scientific method is applied to the social sciences the test for validity is society. The reality for social science is society.

    Matter, the reality studied by the natural sciences is essentially stable and non-changing. The truth of natural science discovered a hundred years ago is unchanged today. Such is not the case for the social sciences.

    The social scientist is attempting to build a theory about a moving target and the social scientist is riding on this moving target while constructing the theory.

    Truth is that which conforms to reality. The above provides evidence why the truth of natural science is stable and the truth of social science—the science of human affairs—is unstable.

    Humans and not nature construct social conditions. The society in which the social theorist lives and of which she derives her present understanding of truth is a recent construct. It was constructed by those with prejudices, false assumptions, biases etc. that permeate her consciousness.

    Truth in matters of human affairs is very slippery. The student of Critical Thinking is better able to deal with such a situation than is an individual who thinks he is a critical thinker. The Big Leaguer is a Critical Thinker the sandlot player is a critical thinker.

    Does this mean that truth, in matters of human affairs, is subjective without any objective content?

    Does social reality make truth and the theorist only brings theory and truth into harmony?

    It seems that theory creates reality and is shaped by reality. Does social theory have any claim on logical truth
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 1, 2004 #2


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    A physicist attempting to discern natural laws during the first fraction of a second of the big bang would experience the same kind of changes in his subject matter that a sociologist encounters.

    While the true nature of physical laws don't change (as far as we know), the apparent nature does. Working with charged particles is different than uncharged particles. Working in very small regimes is different than working in macroscopic regimes. Dealing with things at near luminal velocity is different than working with things at mundane speeds. Any physics student will tell you that the statememnts I made are not really true. You can construct laws to cover all the regimes I mentioned simultaneously. It may be possible soon, to have a single set of laws for all situations. Is this fundamentally different than what the sociologist deals with?

    Not necessarily. While current sociological theories might only work in well defined niches, that does not preclude the existance of more fundamental truths. We don't take the apparently irreconcilable differences in general relativity and quantum mechanics as a proof that no single system of physical laws describes both, why should we accept it about social sciences? I believe all we can confidently claim is a greater ignorance of social sciences.
  4. Jul 1, 2004 #3
    Love your post.

    I am not so sure that I agree with that statement. Science is the method for arriving what can be the most objective or absolute functioning truth. Scientific method is simply a process which embraces the natural function of our minds, that is creating an order, distinguishing working from non working, functioning from non functioning, true distinguished from false. this process, of proving and objective truth, or one, can only be proven through habit and repitition in more than one setting. We know science is working only when we apply it. This is not a realm of faith, but functioning certainty.

    I like where you are leading, yet natural science may just be local tempoary ordinance. Like Newton's Laws were updated and expanded through e=mc2.
    There is one truth at one time, yes, but what this truth/knowledge becomes and adopts to over time is different

    Scientific studies are performed by people, the very people that live in society. As society is increasing in order and function, science too increases in understanding in order and function..

    The scientist IS the moving target..

    reality is also that which conforms to truth...

    there still is not quite yet an accepted 'Theory of Everything' princaple in science, so it is not as stable as you think...

    Perhaps, I suggest, is not that the social sciences are unstable, but yet they are considered seperate from other sciences, there is no cross pollenation of ideas synthesised with the other sciences..

    But, I also suggest, if we can accept a princaple for an unknown co-ordinate in our understanding of human nature, and we can make that work inside of proposition, then we can come to complete understanding of social i nteractions, as long as we can include art and humor (chaos) into the formula. After all, humanity is not just scientific, it is also artistic, and science , for the life of it, can not be used to understand art...it just aint gonna happen. It has to be able to allow for this 'x-factor'

  5. Jul 1, 2004 #4
    I cannot be sure but are you hinting that the truth of natural science is possibly absolute? I suspect you are not but I am confused.

    Are you hinting that if and when this TOE is discovered that would be an absolute truth? I suspect not but I am again confused.
  6. Jul 1, 2004 #5
    absolute truth can really only be mystery. Science is more concerned with finding the truth 'absolutly' yes, but the truths natural science uncover or more universal and objective, true beyond an *individual* point of view.

    Minus humanity completly from the equation. i.e. 'all points of view', what absolute is there? Only mystery. Universal truth is that which describes that which is functioning for all.

    science is just an objective map....the keyword is map. Does the map work, or not? that is the question the scientist must answer and prove...
  7. Jul 2, 2004 #6
    This is taking on an Oriental flavor. I see a mystical fog moving in. I shall have Scotty beam me home.
  8. Jul 2, 2004 #7
    mystical? hehe, those are fightin' words! aint nothin' oriental about it nor mystical about it.....you could call it an objectivist approach, minus the mysticm of Ayn Rand!
  9. Jul 2, 2004 #8

    I do not know if we agree or not. I am a little confused but I think we agree basically it is that we are talking beyond each other.
  10. Jul 2, 2004 #9
    hmm, you mean you are not sure if we are seeing the same thing, or just describing the co-ordinates of the same thing we see?

    I assume that we are looking at the same object....(truth and science). I am doing my very best to stay honest and objective to describe something that I see functioning, and I also assume you are doing the same. We agree on some basics, but I find conflict with some co-ordinates that I see with some that you see.

    interesting, maybe you can help me. I am curious about this, this 'talking beyond each other'.

    Can you explain what you mean?

  11. Jul 2, 2004 #10


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    But ironically, the scientific method was derived from the human mind. :shy: Science is a wonderful way to observe how and sometimes why our world works the way it does, but that observation ultimately is made from human senses, which have been deemed as subjective.
  12. Jul 2, 2004 #11
    this is true. however, we must distinguish that it is subjective to 'human mind' and not an individual human mind. i.e, a functioning princaple for the perspective of all human mind...

    this is all objectivity can only be, and objectivists of the Ayn Rand school must concede, for anything else is the pariah of Objectivism, Mysticism..
  13. Jul 3, 2004 #12
    I am using the word 'beyond' to mean the same thing as you did when you made this statement "true beyond an *individual* point of view".
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