June 29, 2004

Bits of Logic and Science 

Suppose there is a phenomenon, called X, and the common theory to explain this phenomenon is A. But you think A is false; instead the true explanation is theory B. For semplicity's sake, suppose that A and B are not mutually exclusive, but otherwise not related.

Then you collect data and finally demonstrate that A is false. Does it demonstrate also that B is true?

No - this is surely an argument in favor of B, but it's not enough. You also must collect more data, data which will demonstrate positively that B is true. Not just that: you must even demonstrate that if the conditions will not satisfy the requirements of theory B, X will not happen. A trivial but adequate example is this: an object will not accelerate towards the ground, if it is glued to your hand. But if not glued, you can drop it and it will accelerate towards the ground with an acceleration of about 9.81 m/s2, as predicted by Newton's laws.

Although fields like psichology, sociology and even economy are not so precise as hard sciences, the concepts expressed above are basic requisites of every theory tempting to describe some phenomenon. Post-modernist philosophy is total nonsense anyway, so there's no need to worry about it.


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