TIGHAR

Chatterbox => Theorizing about Theories => Topic started by: Martin X. Moleski, SJ on June 24, 2012, 05:20:26 PM

Title: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: Martin X. Moleski, SJ on June 24, 2012, 05:20:26 PM
A recent post in another thread (http://tighar.org/smf/index.php/topic,748.msg14987.html#msg14987) makes me think it's time for me to theorize that TIGHAR is never going to find what it seeks. This is something I've been thinking about for years.  I've mentioned it once or twice in correspondence with members of the Earhart Project Advisory Committee (EPAC) (http://tighar.org/wiki/Earhart_Project_Advisory_Committee).

They say, "Just when you think you've created an idiot-proof system, someone invents a better idiot."

Any imaginable artifact that might serve as definitive proof of the Niku hypothesis may be doubted as something planted by TIGHAR, by the Japenese, by the American government, or by some other nefarious organization (the Illuminati or the Knights Templar, perhaps).

To accept a piece of the airframe, a personal item, or a scrap of DNA as definitive proof that NR16020 landed at Niku, people will have to believe that it got there as the result of the flight on 2 July 1937 and not by some other means, fair or foul.

Archaeological artifacts do not speak for themselves.  They must be interpreted in order for them to have a bearing on an argument about a historic event.  Finding and dating artifacts employs various and sundry scientific or quasi-scientific methods, but interpreting them is an art, not a science.  The holy grail would be the data plate from NR16020, or some equally specific piece of metal that could be definitively associated with the Electra.  But such a piece of metal cannot tell us how it got to where it was found.  The story of the finding will be told by human beings.  Their testimony about what they found and where they found such an artifact depends upon their honesty and integrity, neither of which can be tested by laboratory (empirical) techniques.  Even if they are judged to be honest, someone else may have planted the real artifact or a counterfeit, precisely to throw them off the track of the "real" story (insert various conspiracy theories here).

Such is life with humans.  Can't live with 'em; can't live without 'em.
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: C.W. Herndon on June 25, 2012, 07:38:52 AM
Ah Marty, you too have picked up on the subtle difference in Malcolm's requirements for proof that I called "changing horses in mid stream".

Bravo! And you have explained it so well.
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: Leon R White on June 25, 2012, 05:48:55 PM
Isn't it said that "history is written by the last man standing?" 

So how does a person make peace with this problem, and with Mr. Werner Heisenberg (sp?) as  well.  Can we vote on it?

I often apply White's Law (copyright 2005 Leon R. White):
1 People do what they want to do
   a) people say what they want to say
   b) people hear what they want to hear
   c) people think what they want to think
   d) socrates is not a person.

-Leon
Reason is like a mallet. If you hit yourself in the head long enough with it, you wear out the mallet.
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: Dave Potratz on July 13, 2012, 01:36:25 PM
Hmmmm, this brings to mind a cherished quote from my JR. High School Science teacher, Mr. Johnson: 

"You can lead a horse to water.....but you can't make him jump up & down and sing the national anthem..."

Wish I had a dollar for everytime I've used that...'course then I'd owe it all in royalty to Mr. Johnson.  :'(

dp
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: Nathan Lapointe on August 28, 2012, 12:09:20 AM
Even IF the smoking gun is found then there is a good chance that many critics will not accept it as proof that the Niku hypothesis is correct.  If Nessie is found, for instance, then some could claim that it was a fake that TIGHAR planted.  Or maybe it floated there on the current?  If DNA evidence is found some will claim that it was planted, faked or both.  There are ALWAYS going to be people who will argue anything, no matter how absurd, to try and prove that they were correct.  I might only be 25, but I've learned that lesson several times in life already.  My tactic is to ignore those people and let them believe whatever they want.

TIGHAR needs to stick to their guns and follow the scientific method to prove this hypothesis correct ... or not.  I think the evidence strongly points to the Niku hypothesis being correct, but maybe it's not.  Maybe she did crash and float, or crash on McKean or New Britain or someplace else.  All that TIGHAR can do is continue following the scientific method and continue the excellent work they are doing.  That won't satisfy the media or many critics, but it's the only way of solving this mystery!

Nathan.
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: C.W. Herndon on August 28, 2012, 07:59:46 AM
  I might only be 25, but I've learned that lesson several times in life already.  My tactic is to ignore those people and let them believe whatever they want.

Nathan, you may be young, but you already have an insight that many never acquire. Continue to keep an open mind and you should go far. ;)
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: steven c seitel on August 28, 2012, 08:30:00 AM
Falsification of hypotheses is the basis of the scientific method.  You can never "prove" an hypothesis is true; you can only demonstrate that it is not true, i.e. not consistent with observation.  The best you can hope for is that all tests of an hypothesis yield results consistent with that hypothesis.  That's just the way it works.

Test an hypothesis in enough different ways without disproving it, and eventually most doubters will come around and admit it's likely.  TIGHAR reached that point a long time ago, in my opinion.

Steve
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: C.W. Herndon on August 28, 2012, 09:03:51 AM
Falsification of hypotheses is the basis of the scientific method.  You can never "prove" an hypothesis is true; you can only demonstrate that it is not true, i.e. not consistent with observation.

I fail to understand how you come to these two conclusions.
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: Tim Collins on August 28, 2012, 09:54:11 AM
Falsification of hypotheses is the basis of the scientific method.  You can never "prove" an hypothesis is true; you can only demonstrate that it is not true, i.e. not consistent with observation.

I fail to understand how you come to these two conclusions.

Perhaps it is something akin to being found not guilty does not prove innocence?
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: Martin X. Moleski, SJ on August 28, 2012, 10:01:47 AM
Falsification of hypotheses is the basis of the scientific method.

That's one theory about the scientific method.  It was proposed by a man named Popper.  It is a philosophical conviction, not a scientific finding.  The hypothesis that "Falsification of hypotheses is the basis of the scientific method" can neither be verified nor falsified by "the" scientific method.

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You can never "prove" an hypothesis is true ...

Mathematicians do it all the time.

If your hypothesis ("You can never 'prove' an hypothesis is true") is true, then you can never prove it to be true; that makes it merely a matter of opinion--or faith.

I would offer one available counter-example from a multitude that might be chosen: Milliken's oil drop experiment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_drop_experiment) confirmed the hypothesis that there are identical unit charges in the flow of electricity.
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: Bob Lanz on August 28, 2012, 03:52:16 PM
I don't quite understand the argument here.  If the Niku Hypothesis proves to be true by virtue of finding NR16020 somewhere down below the reef, it is no longer a Hypothesis, it is a fact.  Therefore the Hypothesis is proven to be true.
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: Martin X. Moleski, SJ on August 28, 2012, 04:29:48 PM
I don't quite understand the argument here.  If the Niku Hypothesis proves to be true by virtue of finding NR16020 somewhere down below the reef, it is no longer a Hypothesis, it is a fact.  Therefore the Hypothesis is proven to be true.

No.

It only shows that pieces of NR16020 are down below the reef.  It won't show how they got there.

They could come from the Japanese after AE died of dysentery, trying to cover up their error.

They could come from the Japanese, trying to throw the U.S. off the scent of the True Whereabouts
of Amelia Earhart (Tokyo or N.J.).

They could come from the U.S., trying to persuade the Japanese that they hadn't been spied on and had their war plans compromised.

They could come from TIGHAR, which secretly removed them from their true location in New Britain and planted them underwater so that the Niku expeditions could continue.

I'm sure I could go on, but my imagination is growing weary from all this archaeological reasoning.
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: Bob Lanz on August 28, 2012, 07:23:41 PM
I don't quite understand the argument here.  If the Niku Hypothesis proves to be true by virtue of finding NR16020 somewhere down below the reef, it is no longer a Hypothesis, it is a fact.  Therefore the Hypothesis is proven to be true.

No.

It only shows that pieces of NR16020 are down below the reef.  It won't show how they got there.

They could come from the Japanese after AE died of dysentery, trying to cover up their error.

They could come from the Japanese, trying to throw the U.S. off the scent of the True Whereabouts
of Amelia Earhart (Tokyo or N.J.).

They could come from the U.S., trying to persuade the Japanese that they hadn't been spied on and had their war plans compromised.

They could come from TIGHAR, which secretly removed them from their true location in New Britain and planted them underwater so that the Niku expeditions could continue.

I'm sure I could go on, but my imagination is growing weary from all this archaeological reasoning.


Geez Louise, I think I just got debunked by the machinations of the Right Reverend Martin X Moleski SJ.  Flecto superiori tuo intellectus
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: steven c seitel on August 28, 2012, 07:30:42 PM
Falsification of hypotheses is the basis of the scientific method.  You can never "prove" an hypothesis is true; you can only demonstrate that it is not true, i.e. not consistent with observation.

I fail to understand how you come to these two conclusions.

Oh, goodness.  I didn't mean to start a philosophical argument.  I can do no better to explain my point than to quote from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method#Properties_of_scientific_inquiry :

"Scientific knowledge is closely tied to empirical findings, and always remains subject to falsification if new experimental observation incompatible with it is found. That is, no theory can ever be considered completely certain, since new evidence falsifying it might be discovered. [my emphasis]  If such evidence is found, a new theory may be proposed, or (more commonly) it is found that minor modifications to the previous theory are sufficient to explain the new evidence. The strength of a theory is related to how long it has persisted without falsification of its core principles."

As I said before, I think the Niku hypothesis is already well supported by the (admittedly circumstantial) evidence.

Cheers,

Steve
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: steven c seitel on August 28, 2012, 08:07:29 PM


Quote
You can never "prove" an hypothesis is true ...

Mathematicians do it all the time.

I would offer one available counter-example from a multitude that might be chosen: Milliken's oil drop experiment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_drop_experiment) confirmed the hypothesis that there are identical unit charges in the flow of electricity.

Oh, Marty.  I ought to know better than to disagree with you, but...fools rush in, right?

I think what mathematicians do "all the time" is demonstrate that "theorems" (not scientific hypotheses) follow logically from accepted axioms and/or other theorems derived from such axioms.  There are no empirical observations here; merely an agreed-on starting point and some rules of logic to follow.  Very different from scientific inquiry.

And while Milliken's very elegant experiment has been repeated so many times as to persuade almost everybody that yes, electrical charge probably is quantized and the quantum measurable, all that it actually does is provide strong experimental evidence consistent with that hypothesis, not an absolute "proof."

Oh, well...having stuck my neck out, I remain

Steve

Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: Malcolm McKay on August 28, 2012, 09:19:28 PM
Even IF the smoking gun is found then there is a good chance that many critics will not accept it as proof that the Niku hypothesis is correct.  If Nessie is found, for instance, then some could claim that it was a fake that TIGHAR planted.  Or maybe it floated there on the current?  If DNA evidence is found some will claim that it was planted, faked or both.  There are ALWAYS going to be people who will argue anything, no matter how absurd, to try and prove that they were correct.  I might only be 25, but I've learned that lesson several times in life already.  My tactic is to ignore those people and let them believe whatever they want.

TIGHAR needs to stick to their guns and follow the scientific method to prove this hypothesis correct ... or not.  I think the evidence strongly points to the Niku hypothesis being correct, but maybe it's not.  Maybe she did crash and float, or crash on McKean or New Britain or someplace else.  All that TIGHAR can do is continue following the scientific method and continue the excellent work they are doing.  That won't satisfy the media or many critics, but it's the only way of solving this mystery!

Nathan.

I am rather afraid that that is simply the creation of a straw man argument on a hypothetical and unproven premise which has been taken to being a prediction of future behaviour as demonstrated fact, or to put it another way BS  :) .

In other words if TIGHAR found an identifiable fragment of the Electra or an artifact, or artifacts, that can be shown to have 100% provenance to Earhart or Noonan and published that clearly without any attempt to say more than the evidence demonstrated, or will bear, then any reasonably informed person with the appropriate training and qualifications that enabled them to read and understand the publication would accept it (any person with qualifications and experience in archaeology, history, or any science where analysis of these artifacts might occur).

It is only the unqualified lunatic fringe e.g. the people who believe in Noah's Ark, faces on Mars, Chariots of the Gods etc. who would question it on the basis that it was a plant. And even if they did they would fall at the first hurdle which would be the solidity of the evidence offered by TIGHAR to make their case. That is how your prediction would work in fact rather than in fantasy.

There are enough problems with the current evidentiary value of the artifacts so far offered without inventing this sort of situation. The only problem I can foresee would be if TIGHAR then attempted to gild the lily by arguing for some behavioral features that the evidence could not demonstrate without recourse to another hypothesis.

It is not a race, other than as Jeff has pointed out regarding the actual remaining time for which artifacts can survive without corroding away completely, it is a search for an answer to Earhart and Noonan's final resting place. It can only be in one place - it cannot be in three or four different places. If TIGHAR demonstrates conclusively as I have outlined with incontestable evidence that it is Nikumaroro then that will be accepted by reasonable people - reasonable can also be taken to infer people with the ability to reason, others who don't have that ability don't, to put it bluntly, matter.   
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: Martin X. Moleski, SJ on August 28, 2012, 09:34:39 PM
Oh, goodness.  I didn't mean to start a philosophical argument.

And yet, that is what we're discussing.

The claim you originally made is not a finding of physics, biology, chemistry, archaeology, or any other observational science.  It is a theory about the nature of science itself, which is a metaphysical, not a physical reality.

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  I can do no better to explain my point than to quote from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method#Properties_of_scientific_inquiry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method#Properties_of_scientific_inquiry) :

I like Wikipedia.  I use it daily.  I've made some edits on it.  I don't consider it an insanely great authority.

Quote
"Scientific knowledge is closely tied to empirical findings, and always remains subject to falsification if new experimental observation incompatible with it is found. That is, no theory can ever be considered completely certain, since new evidence falsifying it might be discovered. [my emphasis]  If such evidence is found, a new theory may be proposed, or (more commonly) it is found that minor modifications to the previous theory are sufficient to explain the new evidence. The strength of a theory is related to how long it has persisted without falsification of its core principles."

Those are pretty sweeping generalizations.  The theory that "no theory can ever be considered completely certain, since new evidence falsifying it might be discovered" cannot be considered completely certain, because admits no exceptions.  It is self-referentially inconsistent.  Note that it is also a theory completely divorced from "empirical findings."  Since it claims absolute truth about all theories, which are metaphysical, not empirical realities, no empirical evidence could ever be found against it.  It therefore stands as a counter-example to itself.  It is a theory that claims to be completely certain, and no new empirical evidence could ever be found to falsify it.

Secondly, even if we set aside the inconsistencies in the theory presented, it isn't the same as your original statement that "Falsification of hypotheses is the basis of the scientific method."  That is not at all logically equivalent to the statement that "no theory can ever be considered completely certain, since new evidence falsifying it might be discovered."

In other words, the passage quoted does not back up your original view, but is a different view entirely.

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As I said before, I think the Niku hypothesis is already well supported by the (admittedly circumstantial) evidence.

Me, too.   :)
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: Martin X. Moleski, SJ on August 28, 2012, 09:51:09 PM
Oh, Marty.  I ought to know better than to disagree with you, but...fools rush in, right?

I think what mathematicians do "all the time" is demonstrate that "theorems" (not scientific hypotheses) follow logically from accepted axioms and/or other theorems derived from such axioms.  There are no empirical observations here; merely an agreed-on starting point and some rules of logic to follow.  Very different from scientific inquiry.

The same powers of the intellect are at work in both fields.

The word "hypothesis" can be used in mathematics.  While engaged in the quest for a proof, mathematicians investigate many hypotheses.  George Polya recommends using hypothetical reasoning to solve problems: "Assume waht is required to be done is already done.  ... Draw a hypothetical figure which supposes the condition of the problem satisfied in all its parts. ... Examine the hypothetical situation in which the condition of the problem is supposed to be fully satisfied" (How to Solve It, 1957 (1945), p. 105).

But I'll let you change your position from "You can never 'prove' an hypothesis is true ..." to "You can never 'prove' a scientific hypothesis to be true."  I

Quote
And while Milliken's very elegant experiment has been repeated so many times as to persuade almost everybody that yes, electrical charge probably is quantized and the quantum measurable, all that it actually does is provide strong experimental evidence consistent with that hypothesis, not an absolute "proof."

Oh, no!  Now you've changed your grounds again from "proof" to "absolute proof."  I have no idea what this modification means.  Until you define what you mean, I can't tell whether I disagree or disagree with you.

Hint: If by "absolute proof" you mean "derived from self-evident principles or from deductions from self-evident principles," then what you have said means, "There is no philosophical proof that can take the place of experimental verification."  We can agree on that.  But the fact that there is no proof from self-evident axioms does not mean that there is no experimental verification of the theory that electrical current consists of unit charges.  The Milliken experiment proves that statement to be true; that there are other kinds of questions that might be asked about electro-magnetic or quantum electro-dynamic aspects of electricity is completely irrelevant to whether the experiment verified that particular hypothesis.
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: steven c seitel on August 29, 2012, 01:06:08 AM
Oh, Marty.  I ought to know better than to disagree with you, but...fools rush in, right?

I think what mathematicians do "all the time" is demonstrate that "theorems" (not scientific hypotheses) follow logically from accepted axioms and/or other theorems derived from such axioms.  There are no empirical observations here; merely an agreed-on starting point and some rules of logic to follow.  Very different from scientific inquiry.
   

The same powers of the intellect are at work in both fields.

The word "hypothesis" can be used in mathematics.  While engaged in the quest for a proof, mathematicians investigate many hypotheses.  George Polya recommends using hypothetical reasoning to solve problems: "Assume waht is required to be done is already done.  ... Draw a hypothetical figure which supposes the condition of the problem satisfied in all its parts. ... Examine the hypothetical situation in which the condition of the problem is supposed to be fully satisfied" (How to Solve It, 1957 (1945), p. 105).

But I'll let you change your position from "You can never 'prove' an hypothesis is true ..." to "You can never 'prove' a scientific hypothesis to be true."  I

Quote
And while Milliken's very elegant experiment has been repeated so many times as to persuade almost everybody that yes, electrical charge probably is quantized and the quantum measurable, all that it actually does is provide strong experimental evidence consistent with that hypothesis, not an absolute "proof."

Oh, no!  Now you've changed your grounds again from "proof" to "absolute proof."  I have no idea what this modification means.  Until you define what you mean, I can't tell whether I disagree or disagree with you.

Hint: If by "absolute proof" you mean "derived from self-evident principles or from deductions from self-evident principles," then what you have said means, "There is no philosophical proof that can take the place of experimental verification."  We can agree on that.  But the fact that there is no proof from self-evident axioms does not mean that there is no experimental verification of the theory that electrical current consists of unit charges.  The Milliken experiment proves that statement to be true; that there are other kinds of questions that might be asked about electro-magnetic or quantum electro-dynamic aspects of electricity is completely irrelevant to whether the experiment verified that particular hypothesis.

I'm sorry if my choice of words seems to have "changed my position."  That was not my intention.  Definitions might help here:

By "hypothesis" and "scientific hypothesis" I mean a proposed explanation of an empirical observation:  The sky appears blue because the shorter wavelengths in sunlight scatter at larger angles.

By "proof" and "absolute proof" I mean a demonstration that there can be no other explanation that explains the observed result.

I don't know what a "philosophical proof" is, sorry.

By "true" I mean admitting of no other explanation.

To me "experimental verification" means the experiment did not disprove the hypothesis; not at all the same thing as "proving" it.  But perhaps you favor a different definition?

That said, I'm glad we agree that one can't "prove" a "scientific hypothesis" to be "true."

I absolutely agree the Milliken experiment provided "experimental verification" that charge is quantized.  In other words, the results were completely consistent with that particular hypothesis; the hypothesis was not disproved by the experiment.  But neither was it "proved" by it.  I don't see how we can be completely sure no other (different) experiment can ever yield a result inconsistent with the hypothesis.  Very unlikely, I admit, but impossible?

Finally, my original statement that "Falsification of hypotheses is the [emphasis added] basis of the scientific method" was perhaps a bit too dogmatic, but to me this is the key feature that distinguishes the scientific method from other ways of trying to explain what we observe.  That's all I meant.

Respectfully,

Steve

 

 
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: Tom Swearengen on August 29, 2012, 06:45:39 AM
Hey Marty. I thought about your original thread starter here for a while, and you are right. I'll bet you didnt know that Ric had a foldable aluminum wing that was transported on KOK to put on the reef as evidence of the smoking gun. Yeah that is a crazy notion, and obviously not true.
So, TIGHAR finds evidence of the Electra on Niku. As we said in DC, it doesnt mean it was flown there, just it was found there. BUT, with the other tidbits of information we have, it would potentially match the theory. But, as good scientists, can we adjust our theory after getting factual evidence? I think so.
There are always going to be naysayers. Did Neil Armstrong walk on the moon? That has been debated since 1969. I think only recently that REALLY good pics were taken that showed the landing site, the decent stage, and some other artifacts. Now----some say that pic was planted, after being taken with scale models so it would appear it was real. Just like some say this search is non factual. Just like the earth is flat.
My friend, TIGHAR will find the answers, and when it does, the true and final story can be written. 
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: Martin X. Moleski, SJ on August 29, 2012, 07:00:41 AM
I don't know what a "philosophical proof" is, sorry.

Reasoning from abstract principles about general truths.

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By "true" I mean admitting of no other explanation.

That's a very peculiar meaning of true.  This means that none of the givens in a scientific problem can be true, because data is not explanatory. 

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To me "experimental verification" means the experiment did not disprove the hypothesis; not at all the same thing as "proving" it.

But perhaps you favor a different definition?

Uh, yes.  To verify means to show that something is true.  To falsify is to show that something is false.  The two terms were coined as alternatives to each other by a philosopher (not by the application of scientific methods).

You are making a philosophical assertion, without proof, that all conceivable empirical theories cannot be shown to be true. 

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That said, I'm glad we agree that one can't "prove" a "scientific hypothesis" to be "true."

We do not agree.

Your sentence, "we agree that one can't 'prove' a 'scientific hypothesis' to be 'true'" is not true.

The use of the word "true" in my preceding sentence does not mean "fails to exhaust all possible explanations."

It means that your proposition does not correspond to the facts in evidence.

What I said here is not the proposition you have submitted above as the grounds of our agreement:

Hint: If by "absolute proof" you mean "derived from self-evident principles or from deductions from self-evident principles," then what you have said means, "There is no philosophical proof that can take the place of experimental verification."  We can agree on that.

You have not explained what you meant by "absolute proof" as distinct from "proof."

I have agreed that philosophical considerations are not a substitute for empirical methods.

I have not agreed with your philosophy that "there is no proof of a scientific theory."

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I absolutely agree the Milliken experiment provided "experimental verification" that charge is quantized.  In other words, the results were completely consistent with that particular hypothesis; the hypothesis was not disproved by the experiment.  But neither was it "proved" by it.

It is your funny definition of proof that leads you to your peculiar conclusion that there is something over and above "verification" that is required.

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I don't see how we can be completely sure no other (different) experiment can ever yield a result inconsistent with the hypothesis.  Very unlikely, I admit, but impossible?

The Milliken experiment depends on the definition of terms related to a specific set of givens.  Given the meaning of those terms in those conditions, the experiment proves Milliken's hypothesis to be true in all similar conditions.  Under other conditions (the inflationary period immediately after the Big Bang) the phenomenon we now know as electrical charge may have behaved differently.  But that does not mean that under the current conditions anything further is required to trust that Milliken's theory is true--it corresponds to the way that things are.

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Finally, my original statement that "Falsification of hypotheses is the [emphasis added] basis of the scientific method" was perhaps a bit too dogmatic, but to me this is the key feature that distinguishes the scientific method from other ways of trying to explain what we observe.  That's all I meant.

I understand that is what you meant.

I ask you to note that it is a philosophical statement. 

It is not self-evident.

It does not come from logic, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, archaeology, anatomy, physiology, or any of a multitude of permutations and combinations of the empirical sciences.

It is a generalization that may or may not be true.

By "true" I mean a correct description of what is.

Your definition of "true" ("exclusive explanation") does not work in this context.

I believe your proposition is false ("not a correct description of how all empirical sciences work").

It is a principle of logic that if you reason from false premises, the conclusions you reach will be false.

In Modeling Nature, William Wallace presents eight examples where empirical science has found the true cause of phenomena under the conditions within which we live in this universe:

1. The optics of the rainbow (Theodoric--another Dominican--1311; pp. 324-334)

2. Planetary astronomy (Galileo, 1610; pp. 334-340)

      A. Mountains on the moon (pp. 335-36)
      B. Moons of Jupiter (pp. 337-38)
      C. Phases of Venus (pp. 338-40)
 
3. The physics of falling bodies (Galileo, 1590-1609; pp. 341-350)
4. The circulation of the blood (Harvey, 1628; pp. 350-355)
5. The nature of light and color (Newton, 1672; pp. 355-359)
6. Universal gravitation (Newton, 1713; pp. 359-363)
7. Atoms and Molecules (Antoine Lavoisier [1743-1794], Joseph Luis Gay-Lussac [1778-1850], John Dalton [1766-1844], Amedeo Avogadro [1776-1856], Stanislao Cannizzaro [1826-1910]; basic history of the controversy: 1808-1860; pp. 364-369).
8. The structure of DNA (Watson & Crick, 1953; pp. 369-376)

To this I have added the results of the Milliken experiment: "What we mean by electricity is caused by the movement of particles all of which have the same unit charge."  It is clear that the meaning of "particles" has changed over the last century, but the awareness of wave-particle duality has not eradicated his finding.  Given the meaning of the terms used in his theory and the evaluation of the results of his experiment, Milliken proved that what he claimed was true.  That there is a great deal more now to be said about electro-magnetic phenomena is also true.
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: Martin X. Moleski, SJ on August 29, 2012, 07:15:48 AM
Hey Marty. I thought about your original thread starter here for a while, and you are right. I'll bet you didn't know that Ric had a foldable aluminum wing that was transported on KOK to put on the reef as evidence of the smoking gun. Yeah that is a crazy notion, and obviously not true.

It is obviously not true to me.  I know Ric.  I know he is an honest man.  I trust his word.  But we're talking about idiots here--folks who are willing to imagine alternative explanations of what TIGHAR claims to have found underwater.

Based on my understanding of how idiots behave, I don't think there is any thing that is going to stop them from thinking idiotically.   :(

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So, TIGHAR finds evidence of the Electra on Niku. As we said in DC, it doesn't mean it was flown there, just it was found there. BUT, with the other tidbits of information we have, it would potentially match the theory. But, as good scientists, can we adjust our theory after getting factual evidence? I think so.

There are always going to be naysayers. Did Neil Armstrong walk on the moon? That has been debated since 1969.

Consider, too, if you can bear it: there are people who deny that the Holocaust happened.  We're talking about very well-defined archaeological sites whose history is knowable from photographs and a massive body of eyewitness testimony.  If there is no any-idiot artifact that can change the minds of the Holocaust deniers, I very much doubt that TIGHAR can find an Any-Idiot Artifact that will satisfy its critics (the topic of this thread).

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I think only recently that REALLY good pics were taken that showed the landing site, the decent stage, and some other artifacts. Now----some say that pic was planted, after being taken with scale models so it would appear it was real. Just like some say this search is non factual. Just like the earth is flat.

Mythbusters did a great episode on the Apollo conspiracy theories.  I think they demolished the objections.  But idiots cannot be stopped by such demonstrations.  They're idiots!   ???

To accept the truth of a picture depends on taking the photographer's word about the conditions under which the photograph was taken and processed for publication.  As in the case of the Bigfoot film, it seems that photographers are human beings who may lie, like any other human being.  Trusting a picture requires trusting the testimony of the photographer. 

I trust TIGHAR.  My trust cannot be verified empirically.  It is a meta-scientific presumption of innocence that I make freely, without comulsion, knowing that I cannot force anyone else to make a similar act of trust.  Because I trust TIGHAR, I employ the pictures TIGHAR submits as evidence about what probably happened on July 2, 1937.  But I am very well aware of the intervention of the act of trust involved in this line of reasoning.

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My friend, TIGHAR will find the answers, and when it does, the true and final story can be written.

I'm guardedly optimistic that you are correct.  But it will take at least Niku VIII to find out whether the "things" photographed on Niku VII are, in fact, the kind of "things" that might support the Niku hypothesis.
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: steven c seitel on August 29, 2012, 02:09:43 PM
Marty, Marty, Marty....

First, I'm grateful to you for pointing me at Wallace's book;  I've ordered a copy and will read it with much interest.  I want to see for myself whether it convincingly demonstrates that “empirical science has found the true cause of phenomena.”  My predisposition is that it cannot, but I'm willing to listen and possibly be persuaded otherwise.

As for the rest...gee, where to start?  There's so much there I'd like explore further, but I'm uncertain how to proceed at this point.  Let me give you an example of what troubles me about this discourse (other than that it has led us so far off the original topic, for which I apologize to the forum members):

I've said that by “true,”  I meant “admitting of no other explanation” with reference to my original assertion (“you can never prove an hypothesis is true”).  You thought that was “a very peculiar meaning of true,” leading me to think you disagreed with my definition.  But then you also said: “By 'true' I mean a correct description of what is.”  Other than in choice of words, I can't see how there is any real difference in meaning here (unless there's more than one correct description, which I don't think you mean).  I'm sorry to be confused, but I can't tell if we're in agreement or not.

Now, it seems to me that unless and until we are in agreement on the definition of important terms like “truth” and “experimental verification,” we aren't going to get anywhere.

I grant you the dictionary defines “verify” as “to prove to be true.”  Of course it does.  But isn't it also fair to say that when someone claims to have “experimental verification” of an hypothesis, it's a good bet that what he really means is that he has performed an experiment and obtained results “consistent with the hypothesis?” 

Loose speaking?  Sure, but I'll bet you'll hear it used that way much more often than not at any scientific meeting.  I'm as guilty of that as anyone (it's what I meant when I agreed Milliken obtained “experimental verification”), but you can bet I'll be more careful henceforth.  Thank you for that.

At this point, I think it wise to retire from the field, read the book, and see whether it persuades me that my original assertion was wrong.  At the moment, I'm not convinced.  Perhaps then we can resume, either here, in a more appropriate thread or--ideally--over a brew or two in some local pub.

Cheers,

Steve
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: Martin X. Moleski, SJ on August 29, 2012, 03:06:00 PM
I want to see for myself whether it convincingly demonstrates that “empirical science has found the true cause of phenomena.”

You have not accurately represented my position.

In the nine cases offered as counter-examples to your generalization, science has found the true cause of those phenomena.

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As for the rest...gee, where to start?  There's so much there I'd like explore further, but I'm uncertain how to proceed at this point.  Let me give you an example of what troubles me about this discourse (other than that it has led us so far off the original topic, for which I apologize to the forum members):

This discussion is taking place in a thing called the "Chatterbox."  This particular board is called "Theorizing about Theories."  I created it so that there would be a place away from the boards dedicated to historic aircraft recovery where those who wish could discuss "Philosophy of science, epistemology, standards of evidence, etc."

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I've said that by “true,”  I meant “admitting of no other explanation” with reference to my original assertion (“you can never prove an hypothesis is true”).  You thought that was “a very peculiar meaning of true,” leading me to think you disagreed with my definition.  But then you also said: “By 'true' I mean a correct description of what is.”  Other than in choice of words, I can't see how there is any real difference in meaning here (unless there's more than one correct description, which I don't think you mean).  I'm sorry to be confused, but I can't tell if we're in agreement or not.

I don't agree with your definition of the word "true."  "Admitting of no other explanation" cannot be substituted for every occurrence of the word "truth" in our discussion.  For me, a proposition is true when it says of what is that it is and of what it is not that it is not.  The proposition "an electrical current consists of the flow of unit charges" is a true statement verified by Milliken's oil-drop experiment.

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Now, it seems to me that unless and until we are in agreement on the definition of important terms like “truth” and “experimental verification,” we aren't going to get anywhere.

That is true.  And by that I definitely do not mean "admitting of no other explanation."

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I grant you the dictionary defines “verify” as “to prove to be true.”  Of course it does.  But isn't it also fair to say that when someone claims to have “experimental verification” of an hypothesis, it's a good bet that what he really means is that he has performed an experiment and obtained results “consistent with the hypothesis?” 

If the results were not consistent with the hypothesis, they could not be used to verify the hypothesis.

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Loose speaking?  Sure, but I'll bet you'll hear it used that way much more often than not at any scientific meeting.

I do not consider the behavior of scientists in the aggregate to be a source of authority about the nature of science.  The skills required for success in a natural science (physics, chemistry, biology) are not necessarily the same skills required for formulating a correct philosophy of science.  Philosophy is not a substitute for science; but science is not a substitute for philosophy.

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At this point, I think it wise to retire from the field, read the book, and see whether it persuades me that my original assertion was wrong.  At the moment, I'm not convinced.  Perhaps then we can resume, either here, in a more appropriate thread or--ideally--over a brew or two in some local pub.

I'd be happy to talk with you in person, especially after you have read Wallace's book.
Title: Re: There is no "Any Idiot" Artifact
Post by: dave burrell on September 03, 2012, 08:48:58 PM
I agree. Very true.