Whenever a theory appears to you (Karl Popper)

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marcus

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http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Karl_Popper

Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.

from Popper's book
Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach (1972)
 
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http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Karl_Popper

Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.

from Popper's book
Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach (1972)
Why would any knowledgeable, or just reasonable, person take any theory of anything to be the only possible one?

Because, wrt what that person knows, the theory appears to be ... true?

I'm not sure what you're intending to get at with your OP. Personally, I don't think any current theories are "the only possible ones", though all of them do solve certain problems.

Please elaborate and enlighten and I promise I won't post any more in this thread and hopefully some knowledgeable people will respond to whatever your point was.
 
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He means you should never stop just because you seem to have run out of questions, most likely you were not asking the right questions.
 
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He means you should never stop just because you seem to have run out of questions, most likely you were not asking the right questions.
If that is true, then Popper's own suggestion is not to be taken at face value.
 
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If that is true, then Popper's own suggestion is not to be taken at face value.
Nevertheless it can be taken as a valuable working hypothesis working for all practical purposes, yet admitting rather rare exceptions. I think Feyerabend, who disagreed with Popper on several issues, would agree on this one.
 
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Nevertheless it can be taken as a valuable working hypothesis working for all practical purposes, yet admitting rather rare exceptions. I think Feyerabend, who disagreed with Popper on several issues, would agree on this one.

That would just be a slight modification of Popper's statement so that it would now read:

Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one (for all practical purposes), take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.
 
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That would just be a slight modification of Popper's statement so that it would now read...
In fact Feyerabend wrote a "slightly stronger" statement (In "Against the method", Appendix 3):

"All this means, of course, that we must stop the scientists from taking over education and from teaching as 'fact' and as 'the one true method' whatever the myth of day happens to be."
 
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In fact Feyerabend wrote a "slightly stronger" statement (In "Against the method", Appendix 3):

It's just a variation of the Liar's Paradox: Everything I say is a lie.

All it requires is a qualifier to prevent the statement from contradicting itself, such as, almost everything I say is a lie. Likewise Popper's statement can easily be modified with a qualifier to prevent it from contradicting itself.

Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have likely neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.

However, making sweeping statements is more his style.
 
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"All this means, of course, that we must stop the scientists from taking over education and from teaching as 'fact' and as 'the one true method' whatever the myth of day happens to be."
This to me sounds very much like someone trying to promote creationism and attempting to get it taught in schools. (I'm not saying that's what it is, just where I've seen this style of quote before.)

"stop the scientists from taking over education"

And replace them with...

"teaching as 'fact' and as 'the one true method'"

They teach theories which have evidence to back them up. So far as "the one true method" goes, this is just rubbish. Schools teach you how to do things based on these theories. For example, if you want to calculate the force required to move an object, they teach you the method of how to do it. Say what you like, but the fact is whether or not you agree with the methodology of the calculation, the answer you get for the above example would be the force required to move the object. You may have a different way to get that answer, but the force required is not going to change.

"whatever the myth of day happens to be"

Well it's these 'myths' that put rockets in space, aircraft in the sky and submarines under water. Again, I call this a rubbish statement. I'm not saying that they'll never refine things, but to call the current theories 'myths' and simply assume they will be changed / require changing in the future is complete BS. For all practical purposes, F = ma and that is not something that is going to change. To call it a 'myth of the day' says a lot about the person making the statement. (If someone can cite me something that proves this statement incorrect, I will retract it.)

This isn't an attack at the person who posted, simply my thoughts on the guy who made this statement. Of course, without the proper context in which this quote was made, it could be that my attack is unjustified, but this is based on what I have read so far here.
 
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Well it's these 'myths' that put rockets in space, aircraft in the sky and submarines under water.
And also create weapons of mass destruction. You are right. And if you like Feyerabend so much, here is another sentence:

"Scientists are not content with running their own playpens in accordance with what they regard as the rules of scientific method, they want to universalize these rules, they want them to become part of society at large, and they use every means at their disposal - argument, propaganda, pressure tactics, intimidation, lobbying - to achieve their aims."

Notice: this is not an attack on science or on the scientific method. This is a criticism of certain aspects of the functioning of science in our society, it shows how scientists are seen by one critical and educated philosopher of science.
 
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For the record I don't know who Feyerabend is and so hold an open mind as to whether or not I like him. (I don't know whether or not you were implying I do / do not like him).

Then again, I'm not a fan of philosophy in general. Way too much "we don't really exist" rubbish and the like flying around.

What would be wrong with having society educated and approaching things in the scientific method? Would remove a lot of crackpots from the world. Is there a reason he attacks like this and believes what he does? To me this is just someone spouting a load of rubbish.

I agree with Poppers statement, there is always more than one approach to take and you shouldn't just accept the first answer you find, but this Feyerabend guy seems to be simply attacking science.

Again, I know nothing about either of these two aside from what's here.
 
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To quote from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feyerabend/" [Broken] (underlining - mine):

"Paul Feyerabend (b.1924, d.1994), having studied science at the University of Vienna, moved into philosophy for his doctoral thesis, made a name for himself both as an expositor and (later) as a critic of Karl Popper's “critical rationalism”, and went on to become one of the twentieth century's most famous philosophers of science. An imaginative maverick, he became a critic of philosophy of science itself, particularly of “rationalist” attempts to lay down or discover rules of scientific method. "
.....
"1954 saw the publication of the first of Feyerabend's many articles on the philosophy of quantum mechanics, the first fruits of the time he spent studying with Popper. In these publications, he generally took the line that the dominance achieved by the “Copenhagen Interpretation” of the quantum theory was undeserved. Feyerabend was particularly keen to argue that it had not and could not be shown that this interpretation of the theory was a general panacea for the problems of microphysics, or that its defenders could justifiably believe it to be unassailable. He came to defend the right of “hidden-variables” theorists such as Louis de Broglie, David Bohm, and Jean-Pierre Vigier to hypothesise the existence of an unobserved deterministic substructure underpinning the apparently indeterministic cavortings of objects on the quantum-mechanical level. "
....
 
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http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Karl_Popper

Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.

from Popper's book
Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach (1972)
I take this very much to heart. (And yes, the following is about quantum mechanics and the sum total of all the crazy stuff that has been proposed to deal with it.)

Say you have a theory based upon principles. Let it be a given that those who dwell incessantly upon principles find yours to be far preferable over alternative principles. Your theory predicts all the right stuff supported by all experimental evidence.

Historical and contemporary theories predict the same results upon principles (metaphysics), but principles that have much lesser enjoyment among us human folks. Has your theory better described physical reality or have you only forced a conclusion in the demand that your principles are correct?

After all, we are only, so very limited, human beings. Given a set of axioms--these principles, and enough time and effort, we can find a way to get the results desired, all in keeping with these given axioms. Am I wrong?
 
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Feyerabend would be the last to support any sort of creationist views. What he argues is not against science, but actually for it. It may seem as if he is criticizing science, since the kind of science he is criticizing is prolific in the scientific community. He calls for openness and a complete lack of barriers in the scientific process, allowing anyone to propose any theory to the scientific matter. He was of the belief that the bad theories would get refuted with lack of evidence and weeded out, and good theories get stronger. (Which is sort of crackpot-ish in a lot of ways, in my opinion)

But I think he hit the nail right on the head when he said that there exists no such thing as the scientific method. Scientists do not use a clean-cut, well defined, none-debated, set-in-stone method to come to conclusions in science.
 
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http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Karl_Popper

Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.

from Popper's book
Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach (1972)


Sounds right to me.

Science doesn't prove what and how nature is, but what and how nature is not.

Compare to Ayn Rand's:



“The giants of the intellect, whom you admire so much, once taught you that the earth was flat and that the atom was the smallest particle of matter. The entire history of science is a progression of exploded fallacies, not of achievements.”
 

epenguin

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I personally found Feyerabend useful medicine and refreshment if taken in small sips. Possibly likje other medicines dangerous to swallow too large amounts. (The digestive system figures largely in Feyerabend's metaphors).

At any rate both Popper and Feyerbend on a good day would probably agree with you

What would be wrong with having society educated and approaching things in the scientific method?
The difference would be that if not Popper then a lot of scientists who have got him secondhand would agree and Feyerabend would say yes, approach in scientific way - but you guys do not know what that is. Even if you are scientists. He is I think attacking scientism which I see implicit in your comment.
 
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disregardthat

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It's just a variation of the Liar's Paradox: Everything I say is a lie.
That is not a paradox. Your sentence is simply false. Some things you say is a lie, such as your sentence, but some other things are true. Which is the only logical possibility.
 

Math Is Hard

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(Just bumping since this was a thread I went back and re-opened.)
 

Pythagorean

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"All this means, of course, that we must stop the scientists from taking over education and from teaching as 'fact' and as 'the one true method' whatever the myth of day happens to be."
This seems to be a serious misrepresentation of scientists that I see repeated all the time. The exact opposite statements from scientists can be traced back to Galieleo:

"The goal of science is not to open the door to everlasting wisdom, but to set a limit on everlasting error." Galileo

And, you'll have to take my word for it, but in education, the discussion comes up more than once about fact vs. truth vs. theory vs. law from the professors and why we don't call theories laws anymore.
 
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“The giants of the intellect, whom you admire so much, once taught you that the earth was flat and that the atom was the smallest particle of matter. The entire history of science is a progression of exploded fallacies, not of achievements.”
Re Ayn Rand quote:

The "exploded fallacies" are the achievements of science. Science is (or should be) always tentative, and that's its strength. Collect facts and develop testable hypotheses to explain the facts. If a hypothesis passes the tests, it becomes the accepted theory (or model) until it breaks down in the face of new facts and the process is repeated.
 
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