We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Libertarians should not be denying scientific fact. We should instead spend our time combatting the religious impulse of people to think the modern world is evil and that we must repent for our sins by living cruddy lives and waiting for (in their minds) our inevitable and justified doom at the hands of a wronged Gaia.
- Perry E. Metzger

11 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • cryptononcommie

    Far more important than “scientific fact” is the “scientific method.” Were it not for the “scientific method,” we might as well be getting our “scientific facts” from the Curan for all that they would be worth. People who place too much of an empathis on “scientific fact,” and too little on the “scientific method” are almost certainly deficient in the philosophy of science, and at best treat “scientific fact” as just another scripture (slightly more correct than the others) to be blindly memorized and recited. These people are perhaps the most dangerous to science, as they pervert its very nature.

  • What is “scientific fact”?

    Best regards

  • Howard R Gray

    Science might be about knowledge, fact is at best provisional in the Popperian sense, and method is critical in revising facts and ensuring their veracity. Curiously, religion doesn’t appear to be all that much about the spiritual but is that a fact?

  • chuck

    We should instead spend our time combatting the religious impulse of people to think the modern world is evil…

    Yeah, I don’t like the left either.

  • Radical Sceptic

    Science might be about knowledge, fact is at best provisional in the Popperian sense, and method is critical in revising facts and ensuring their veracity. Curiously, religion doesn’t appear to be all that much about the spiritual but is that a fact?

    This is a little confused. What Popper actually asserts is that facts are objective and described by true propositions (and so are not open to revision) that our knowledge is always conjectural (and thus always open to revision), and that while we may hold many true theories certainty is not possible (so veracity can never be ensured).

  • “…certainty is not possible…”

    (He said, certainly.)

    Yawn.

  • Billy Beck wrote: “Yawn.”

    Perhaps I can bring things down somewhat closer to earth, to be less of a yawn for Billy and like-minded persons.

    My interpretation of Karl Popper’s philosophy of science, as in “The Logic of Scientific Discovery” is that there are no facts about science, though there are facts about observation.

    In science there are theories that work, in that they explain what has happened and predict accurately what will happen. Such theories become accepted by testing them again and again in different circumstances, to try and falsify them (ie find circumstances in which the theory does not work). When a theory has been subjected to “enough” diligent search to falsify it, and without success, the theory becomes generally accepted. However, that acceptance is conditional on the possibility of falsification in the future.

    Thus no scientific theory is accepted as inviolate against improvement or refutation at some future time.

    However, in practice, falsification at some future time is usually only partial.

    Consider, for example, Newton’s Laws of Motion.

    These were first published (most likely) in 1687, though doubtless there were used, investigated for falsification, discussed, etc before that.

    And they were pretty much laws for over 2 centuries. Then along came the fast (light) and the small (sub-atomic) and those laws did not explain what happens or predict what would happen. Additional theories (special relativity and quantum mechanics) filled the gap.

    However, Newton’s Laws of Motion are still perfectly satisfactory (usefully applicable and unfalsified) in a somewhat smaller domain of use, rather than the whole of physics. This domain of use is pretty much the whole of the world that we live in on a personal and day-to-day basis (eg playing snooker and not crashing our cars); jolly useful.

    Back to the Quote of the Day, which arose in one of yesterday’s comments on global warming, there is a very important issue.

    Those for Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW, in common parlance, the CO2 greenhouse effect) claim their theory as fact: meaning having survived diligent investigation for falsification. They claim the AGW theory has passed the tests.

    They are just plain wrong. The search has not been diligent enough. There are too many unexplained things arising from the theory; on this, please see the other threads on Samizdata on this, started over the last 2 or 3 days).

    Sadly, and as a complete mystery to me, those so claiming include many scientists of great repute, including the current Government Chief Scientific Advisor and current President of the Royal Society. Though the field is not their specialist field (as it is not mine), they seem to have forgotten the true scientific method, whereas I have not.

    The only explanation I have, is that they are doing politics, not science!

    Best regards

  • Radical Sceptic

    “…certainty is not possible…”

    (He said, certainly.)

    Yawn.

    No, he said it conjecturally of course.

  • Just what “scientific fact” is Perry Metzger arguing we should not dispute? Global warming? Sorry, Perry, that NYC air seems to be getting to your brain cells. Mann’s Hockey Stick has been resoundingly debunked(Link), and solar astronomers now say we’ll see 1.5-2.0C of global cooling(Link) by 2022 due to solar cycle 25 (Link)peaking at under 50 sunspots (normally it has been 100-200 since the end of the Dalton Minimum of the early 19th century).

  • Ah yes, scientific facts.

    Perhaps you might be willing to expand a bit about Arkham, Massachusetts, just north of which I live.

    Quite an impressive place, Google tells us. What more can you tell us about it?

  • Everyman, Arkham is a great place to live once you get used to the constant smell of fish. Oh, and I recommend double glazing as the sound of chanting off in the distance and the noise made by those damn whippoorwills makes it hard to sleep at night.