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Falsifiability

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Me Myself, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. Me Myself

    Me Myself Back to my username

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    Talk me about falsifiability

    I´ve seen it in wiki, but I would like to know how deep inrooted is it in scientific method and how unanimous or not is it in science that falsifiability is a need for something to be science.

    I think that´s all :)
     
  2. Daemon Sophic

    Daemon Sophic Avatar in flux

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    It is a major part of the basic 'scientific process'. If you form a hypothesis that cannot be falsified (i.e. studied and found to be untrue), then you are just spouting wild stories rather than verifiable v falsifiable hypotheses.
    for example:
    GOOD HYPOTHESIS: If gravity is a constant, then if I drop this ball 100 feet down a vacuutainer tube then it will take the same amount of time every 2 thousand times I drop it. --- Now a test can be done to confirm or deny it. If it does take the exact same amount of time, all 2000 tries, then there is evidence to support gravitational pull being a constant.

    BAD HYPOTHESIS: An all knowing and omipotent being watches us all, all the time: yet does not wish to be seen or in any way noticed by normal human senses or instrumental testing. -----:sarcastic. Oookaaaayyy. So how do we test this?
     
  3. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Yeah, Daemon Sophic got the jist of it, though I wouldn't have phrased it in a manner that denigrates the value of storytelling. <_<;

    I'd like to add that there are scientific disciplines that routinely use non-falsifiable ideas, but they do so in a way that still maintains the core of the scientific method. These are typically called "soft sciences" and include mainly the social sciences. As an example there are many competing theories of personality in psychology and none of them in particular can be falsified. Each, however, can be used as an explanatory model of human behavior and hypotheses can be tested underneath its framework.

    Also, the core of falsifiability is the ability to empirically measure (qualitatively or quantitatively) the subject in question. Measurements may be direct or indirect; conclusions may rely on deduction or inference. As a scientist, you will get trained about when it is and is not appropriate to generalize your data and statistics. The nuances are somewhat complicated, and it's not something you learn unless you hit grad school, I imagine. You might pick up the basics in undergrad, but I didn't get a more rigorous wham with it until grad school.
     
  4. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    Ditto. I'll add that some are confused by the fact that theories about the material world are never proven true.
    They may only be proven false. Repeated experiments which fail to falsify a theory are the method of confirming it.
     
  5. Sir Doom

    Sir Doom Cooler than most of you

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    To put it in the most basic terms:

    A hypothesis that cannot be proven false is useless to test. Science likes testing.
     
  6. painted wolf

    painted wolf Grey Muzzle

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    yeah... pretty much what they said. All the hard sciences are based on falsifiability and many of the "soft" sciences are starting to increasingly utilize it.

    wa:do
     
  7. Sir Doom

    Sir Doom Cooler than most of you

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    So here are some illustrative examples!!!!

    I'll use the same question for both hypotheses just to keep it simple.

    Question: Does God answer prayers?

    Falsifiable Hypothesis: Praying to God for physical wealth produces physical wealth within 5 minutes.

    Non-falsifiable Hypothesis: Praying to God for physical wealth produces variable results over an indeterminate amount of time.

    The first hypothesis, once tested, will show that a majority of the time, it is false. Therefore we have gained information on what prayer is not capable of. Thus we are closer to answering the question.

    The second hypothesis, once tested, will show that it is true in 100% of cases since since all results support its vague parameters. Therefore we have gained no information at all on the capabilities of prayer. Thus we are no closer to answering the question.
     
  8. Me Myself

    Me Myself Back to my username

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    Can you cite sources for this?

    Sorry , I know it is kind of an obvious question, but honestly, I have a friend that says that falsiability doesn´t sound like too much of an important part of science (given all mighty read of wikipedia :D )

    So I would appreaciate any sources that verified it as a widespread part of th scientific method.
     
  9. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
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    Falsifiability is an important part of logic generally. Without it, we can fall into congruence bias:

    Congruence bias - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Say we come up with a hypothesis: "to hit the target with your arrow, you must aim carefully and wear a purple hat."

    No matter how many times we hit the target while aiming carefully and wearing a purple hat, we haven't actually demonstrated that the hypothesis is true, even though all our evidence is consistent with it being true.

    If we actually want to prove the hypothesis, we have to try to falsify it: we have to come up with tests that are incompatible with our hypothesis being true. For instance, we could test whether it was possible to hit the target while not aiming carefully, or while not wearing a purple hat.

    Until you try to falsify a claim, it's impossible to know that it's true.
     
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  10. painted wolf

    painted wolf Grey Muzzle

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    How about this:

    What is Good Science?

    http://decodedscience.com/what-is-science/2833

    And here is a further discussion on what falsifiable means:
    Basic concepts: falsifiable claims. &#8211; Adventures in Ethics and Science

    wa:do
     
  11. Sir Doom

    Sir Doom Cooler than most of you

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  12. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    He's the guy with the penguins, right?
     
  13. Sir Doom

    Sir Doom Cooler than most of you

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    No, he's the guy with the penguins, left. Sorry to disappoint.
     
  14. painted wolf

    painted wolf Grey Muzzle

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    Actually it was black swans...
    [​IMG]

    But I suppose white penguins would have worked just as well.

    [​IMG]

    wa:do
     
  15. Sir Doom

    Sir Doom Cooler than most of you

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    lol, awesome.
     
  16. Penumbra

    Penumbra Veteran Member
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    omygosh I want to pet them.

    Way too cute.

    I think others provided good resources.

    Without falsifiability, anything can be proposed. Now, more rigorous proposals may be taken a bit more seriously, but if there's no way to test a proposal at all, then it's only speculation. Sometimes with things like string theory, proposals that are not particularly falsifiable get misunderstood by the public as though they were fact. One can use math to provide some pretty interesting ideas but in order to really know something, theories must be put to the test.

    Einstein's Special or General Relativity, for example, was not what won him the Nobel prize. His work on the Photoelectric Effect is what won him the Nobel Prize, because Relativity was less intuitive, and harder to try to falsify and convince the whole scientific community.
     
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