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Philosophy of Science, Practice of Science (a Collection of Quotes)

Philosophy of Science, Practice of Science (a Collection of Quotes)

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Published by David Jimenez

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Published by: David Jimenez on Mar 09, 2009
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Philosophy of Science, Practice of Science:
 "...There will be well-testable theories, hardly testable theories, and non-testable theories.Those which are non-testable are of no interest to empirical scientists. They may bedescribed as metaphysical."(Popper, Karl, Conjectures and Refutations (New York: Basic Books, 1963), p. 257.)"A hypothesis is empirical or scientific only if it can be tested by experience. Ahypothesis or theory which cannot be, at least in principle, falsified by empiricalobservations and experiments does not belong to the realm of science."(Francisco J. Ayala, "Biological Evolution: Natural Selection or Random Walk?,"American Scientist, Vol. 62, November-December 1974, p. 700)"What gambler would be crazy enough to play roulette with random evolution? The probability of dust carried by the wind reproducing Durer's 'Melancholia' is lessinfinitesimal than the probability of copy errors in the DNA molecule leading to theformation of the eye; besides, these errors had no relationship whatsoever with thefunction that the eye would have to perform or was starting to perform. There is no lawagainst daydreaming, but science must not indulge in it."(French zoologist Pierre-Paul Grasse in _Evolution of Living Organisms_ (New York:Academic Press, 1977), 104)"Multiple hypotheses should be proposed whenever possible. Proposing alternativeexplanations that can answer a question is good science. If we operate with a singlehypothesis, especially one we favor, we may direct our investigation toward a hunt for evidence in support of this hypothesis."(Campbell N.A., Reece J.B. & Mitchell L.G., "Biology," [1987], Benjamin/Cummings:Menlo Park CA, Fifth Edition, 1999, p.14)"There are obvious the difficulties in discussing unique events that happened a long timeago. How can we ever know that our suggested explanations are correct? After all,historians cannot agree about the causes of the Second World War. We accept thatcertainty is impossible, but there are several reasons why we think the enterprise is worthwhile. First, we have one grat advantage over historians: we have agreed theories both of chemistry and of the mechanism of evolutionary change. We can therefore insist that our explanations be plausible both chemically, and in terms of natural selection. This places asevere constraint on possible theories. Indeed, the difficulty often lies, not in choosing between rival theories, but in finding a theory that is chemically and selectively plausible.Further, theories are often testable by looking at existing organisms."(John Maynard Smith and Eörs Szathmáry, The Major Transitions in Evolution, NewYork: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1995)"Certainly science has moved forward. But when science progresses, it often opens vaster mysteries to our gaze. Moreover, science frequently discovers that it must abandon or modify what it once believed. Sometimes it ends by accepting what it has previouslyscorned."
(Eiseley, Loren C., [Professor of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania], "TheFirmament of Time," The Scientific Book Club: London, 1960, p.5)"A scientist commonly professes to base his beliefs on observations, not theories.Theories, it is said, are useful in suggesting new ideas and new lines of investigation for the experimenter; but "hard facts" are the only proper ground for conclusion. I have never come across anyone who carries this profession into practice--certainly not the hard-headed experimentalist, who is the more swayed by his theories because he is lessaccustomed to scrutinise them. Observation is not sufficient. We do not believe our eyesunless we are first convinced that what they appear to tell us is credible. It is better toadmit frankly that theory has, and is entitled to have, an important share in determining belief."(Eddington A., "The Expanding Universe," Penguin: Harmondsworth, Middlesex UK,1940, p.25)"Medawar admonishes the young to formulate hypotheses but not to identify with them.'The intensity of a conviction that a hypothesis is true has no bearing on whether it is trueor false'. Voltaire put it more strongly: 'In fact, no opinion should be held with fervour. No one holds with fervour that 7 x 8 = 56 because it can be shown to be the case. Fervour is only necessary in commending an opinion which is doubtful or demonstrably false'. Iam told that when anybody contradicted Einstein, he thought it over, and if he was foundwrong he was delighted, because he felt that he had escaped an error."(Max Perutz, "Is Science Necessary?" (p.196), in a review he wrote of Peter Medawar's book "Advice to a Young Scientist")"The scientific establishment bears a grisly resemblance to the Spanish Inquisition. Either you accept the rules and attitudes and beliefs promulgated by the 'papacy' (for whichread, perhaps, the Royal Society or the Royal College of Physicians), or face a dreadfulretribution. We will not actually burn you at the stake, because that sanction, unhappily, isnow no longer available under our milksop laws. But we will make damned sure that youare a dead duck in our trade."(Gould, Donald [former editor of New Scientist], "Letting poetry loose in the laboratory," New Scientist, 29 August 1992, p.51)"There must be no barriers for freedom of inquiry. There is no place for dogma inscience. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion,to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors.""As long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never to be lost, and science can never regress."(J. Robert Oppenheimer, physicist, Manhatten Project, Life Magazine 10/10/1949)"What has kept design outside the scientific mainstream these last 130 years is theabsence of precise methods for distinguishing intelligently caused objects fromunintelligently caused ones. For design to be a fruitful scientific theory, scientists have to be sure they can reliably determine whether something is designed. Johannes Kepler, for instance, thought the craters on the moon were intelligently designed by moon dwellers.
We now know the craters were formed naturally. This fear of falsely attributingsomething to design only to have it overturned later has prevented design from enteringscience proper ... [w]ith precise methods for discriminating intelligently fromunintelligently caused objects, scientists are now able to avoid Kepler's mistake"(Dembski, W. A., "Introduction: Mere Creation", Mere Creation Science Faith &Intelligent Design, edited by William Dembski (InterVarsity Press, 1998) pg. 16)"While the admission of a design for the universe ultimately raises the question of aDesigner (a subject outside of science), the scientific method does not allow us to excludedata which lead to the conclusion that the universe, life and man are based on design. To be forced to believe only one conclusion--that everything in the universe happened bychance --would violate the very objectivity of science itself.""The inconceivability of some ultimate issue (which will always lie outside scientificresolution) should not be allowed to rule out any theory that explains the interrelationshipof observed data and is useful for prediction.""It is in that same sense of scientific honesty that I endorse the presentation of alternativetheories for the origin of the universe, life and man in the science classroom."(Werner Von Braun, Ph.D., the father of the NASA space Program, in an open letter to theCalifornia State Board of Education on September 14, 1972. Seehttp://www.pastornet.net.au/jmm/aasi/aasi0250.htmfor the entire text with more goodquotes!)"During the period of nearly universal rejection, direct evidence for continental drift-thatis, the data gathered from rocks exposed on our continents-was every bit as good as it istoday. .... In the absence of a plausible mechanism, the idea of continental drift wasrejected as absurd. The data that seemed to support it could always be explained away. ...The old data from continental rocks, once soundly rejected, have been exhumed andexalted as conclusive proof of drift. In short, we now accept continental drift because it isthe expectation of a new orthodoxy. I regard this tale as typical of scientific progress. New facts, collected in old ways under the guidance of old theories, rarely lead to anysubstantial revision of thought. Facts do not `speak for themselves', they are read in thelight of theory."(Gould, Stephen Jay [Professor of Zoology and Geology, Harvard University], "TheValidation of Continental Drift," in "Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History,"[1978], Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, p161, note: So I guess today's 'old theory' would be evolution, and the continental drift, for which ample evidence already exists, would be"Intelligent Design')"But our ways of learning about the world are strongly influenced by the social preconceptions and biased modes of thinking that each scientist must apply to any problem. The stereotype of a fully rational and objective 'scientific method,' withindividual scientists as logical (and interchangeable) robots, is self-serving mythology."(Gould, Stephen Jay, "In the Mind of the Beholder," Natural History, vol. 103 (February1994), page 14)

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