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B What is scientific and what is not?

  1. Sep 11, 2017 #1
    ---I am not sure in which section i should post this question , so if it is wrong section kindly move it to the proper section ----

    I am really confused to draw a clear line between what is science and what is not .
    I know science has some characteristics which differentiates it from unscientific theories and studies, but still it's not easy to differentiate .I can point out some cases where i am getting really confused .
    Case 1 - Newtons theory of gravitation
    According to me it is scientific because we have used his theories and equations to launch satellites and rockets , have many other applications in real life also . In this case i found 2 characteristics which make it a perfect science
    1. experimentally verified and experiments are repeatable
    2. can be applied to real life scenarios .
    But still some people says Einstein theory of relativity proved that Newton was wrong , so Newton's theory was unscientific ?? I don't know
    Case 2 - Existence of GOD
    Existence of GOD can not experimentally verified , So it is not scientific.
    Case 3 - Big bang theory , existence of black holes, expansion theory
    It is not experimentally verified in a controlled environment and experiments are not repeatable . But we still call them science I don't know why .
    Case 4 - Darwin theory
    It is not experimentally verified in a controlled environment and experiments are not repeatable . But we still call them science I don't know why .
    Case 5 - Marxism , other theories in social psychology ,theories in economics and political science
    It is not experimentally verified in a controlled environment and experiments are not repeatable . But we still call them science I don't know why .

    When going through these cases different people says different opinion about which is science and which is not. So when going through these different cases what are the characteristics we should look for to clearly identify and say that this one science or not ??...
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2017 #2


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    This is not a good use of the language within science. Newton's theory still works very well in a specific set of scenarios where it is a good approximation. For any theory, you must be aware of the limits of its applicability (or try to find them by doing experiments).

    Also note that you can never verify that a scientific theory is "true". You can only do experiments that check whether the predictions of the theory are correct or not. As such, the important part of a scientific theory is that it is a priori falsifiable by experiments. If the predictions of the theory do not pan out, you know that you probably want to go looking for a theory that predicts Nature better.

    Same problem. You do not "verify" a scientific theory, you verify its predictions. Even if the predictions pan out, there may be a different set of circumstances where the theory does not hold. What you can do is to test whether or not a scientific theory makes good predictions or not.

    The existence of one or more gods is typically not falsifiable as in most incarnations you can simply state that the god(s) chose not to intervene in the expected way. Thus, there is no experiment you could do that would utterly prove the prediction false.

    While you only have one Universe, we know enough of how the Universe works to extrapolate our current theories to these situations.

    This is just wrong. Evolution rests on a very strong experimental framework.

    This is also wrong to some extent. While Marxism is not a theory, it is an ideology, theories of economics and psychology can be formulated and tested.
  4. Sep 11, 2017 #3


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    Science is not limited to things that are directly verified by experiments. If logic and mathematics lead to results that agree with experiments, that also counts. Furthermore, theories that have not been tested experimentally either directly or indirectly can still be called scientific if there is no unscientific claim of their validity. If one proposes a theory with the understanding that its validity is subject to experimental results, that is very different from something like religion.

    Big Bang theory: No experimental results, but observations of background radiation helps to support it.
    Existence of black holes: Black holes have been "observed" by their influence on objects around them.
    Expansion theory: The expansion of the universe has been experimentally measured. Acceleration has been detected.
    Darwin theory: Gene theories have been verified in experiments. Also selective breeding is well established. So much of Darwin's theories are now very firmly established scientifically.
  5. Sep 11, 2017 #4
    This is where i am confused again . T think Karl Popper brought this concept that science should be falsifiable, he was a philosopher of science not a scientist even. Which authority or organisation is responsible to state that science should be falsifiable ?
    Kindly explain a bit, i didn't understand your answer well.
    As per my knowledge we explain evolution based on Darwin's theories. What are the experimental evidences that you are referring to ? kindly explain with examples
    How theories in economics can be formulated tested while Marxism can not ? kindly explain with examples
  6. Sep 11, 2017 #5


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    We do not discuss philosophy at PF. As for science, we only consider discussions concerning mainstream science, as defined by the scientific community itself.

    Thread closed.
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