Author Topic: SGU 5x5 #65  (Read 1891 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Steven Novella

  • SGU Panel Member
  • Well Established
  • *****
  • Posts: 1833
    • http://www.theskepticsguide.org
SGU 5x5 #65
« on: April 20, 2009, 07:22:36 AM »
Skepticism 101 - Scientific Theory
Steven Novella
Host, The Skeptics Guide
snovella@theness.com

Offline glenfallswv

  • Off to a Start
  • *
  • Posts: 40
Re: SGU 5x5 #65
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2009, 12:50:23 AM »
I'm tired of having to explain the difference between Theory and theory and hypothesis.  This ambiguity isn't helping anyone but the woo-sayers.  Even some "scientists" appropriate the word to give weight to their latest idle speculation.  I'm thinking here of the Theory of Multiple Intelligence which was given the label "Theory" by its author long before it had met the criteria for being a theory (if it ever has or does).

Is there a different word that we can give?  I've seen "model" used a lot for theoretical structures that have explanatory but not yet predictive power.  I'm thinking of the "Standard Model" for particle physics.

Does this ambiguity exist in other languages?  Maybe we can snag an uncorrupted, unambiguous, non-English term to do service?  I'm fairly certain if we don't expunge "theory" from the lexicon, I'll be faced with stupid semantic arguments till my dying day.

Offline Dolomedes

  • Seasoned Contributor
  • ****
  • Posts: 568
    • RatioBlog
Re: SGU 5x5 #65
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2009, 03:20:30 AM »
Is there a different word that we can give?  I've seen "model" used a lot for theoretical structures that have explanatory but not yet predictive power.  I'm thinking of the "Standard Model" for particle physics.
Bad example, because the standard model has made predictions that turned out to be fulfilled.
Warning: I have a brain, and I know how to use it.

50 Books for 2009 and 2010

Offline Evil Eye

  • Poster of Extraordinary Magnitude
  • **********
  • Posts: 13168
  • THINK!
Re: SGU 5x5 #65
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2009, 05:59:47 AM »
One thing that was kind-of wrong was that a hypothesis is an idea or a guess.

This is only because a hypothesis must also be falsifiable.

The hypotheses precede the falsification/testing/validation, which then lead to a theory.

You cannot have a God hypothesis any more than you can have a God Theory.

An idea is an idea.

A hypothesis is an idea about a truth that can be tested against possible predictions.
"We'll get that information to you later" - Richard Feynman to Mr. Rodgers.

Offline GodSlayer

  • Poster of Extraordinary Magnitude
  • **********
  • Posts: 15007
Re: SGU 5x5 #65
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2009, 06:42:15 AM »
One thing that was kind-of wrong was that a hypothesis is an idea or a guess.

This is only because a hypothesis must also be falsifiable.

The hypotheses precede the falsification/testing/validation, which then lead to a theory.

You cannot have a God hypothesis any more than you can have a God Theory.

An idea is an idea.

A hypothesis is an idea about a truth that can be tested against possible predictions.

points like this make me wonder if it might be valuable to have a board-contribution section for 5x5, where they could announce shows they're interested in doing, and people can give their comments...potentially important (like this one), and the podcast would later be recorded mindful of those, in addition to the ideas the rogues already had.

just a thought.
Quote from: Thomas Carlyle
In a controversy, the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.

Offline Slash

  • Off to a Start
  • *
  • Posts: 58
Re: SGU 5x5 #65 <using a scientific theory>
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2009, 08:03:32 PM »
I had a perfect event with a scientific theory several months ago. I work in a cancer treatment center. The physicists, a dosimetrist, and myself, a service engineer/troubleshooter, were discussing measuring the dose under a certain condition. When a certain number was mention I asked where did that number come from. The lead physicist said it was based on such and such theory and the numbers are known. He did not have to do all the calculations and start at the beginning. This has already been done , peer reviewed and accepted. I being a curious fellow was devising a method using film to test the theory.  Doing so would help me understand the theory.  Just because I don't understand the theory doesn't mean I couldn't use the theory to run the test. The test involved scatter xray outside the treatment  area.
Why is eyewitness testimony the lowest form of evidence in science and the highest form of evidence in the court?

Offline GodSlayer

  • Poster of Extraordinary Magnitude
  • **********
  • Posts: 15007
Re: SGU 5x5 #65
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2009, 01:08:41 PM »
I liked this ep.

...could almost change the title to 'key scientific terms' (having addressed theory, hypothesis, law, and paradigm) :)

I particularly liked Bob's 'laws describe, theories explain' clarification.
Quote from: Thomas Carlyle
In a controversy, the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.

 

personate-rain
personate-rain