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Corkscrew

Posts: 20
Joined: Jan. 2006

 (Permalink) Posted: May 02 2006,05:34

AFDave: again, I think we have a slight confusion of terminology. What you're describing as an hypothesis would, if I understand correctly, be more accurately considered a conjecture.

My understanding is that statements about the universe subdivide into the following categories:

Conjectures - statements that fit all the known data (these are produced by the largely-intuitive process of abduction)

Hypotheses - conjectures that are falsifiable

Data - conjectures that have been verified (there's no term for conjectures that are merely verifiable)

Predictions - conjectures that are both verifiable and falsifiable, and that haven't yet been verified or falsified

Science is concerned primarily with deciding which of the infinite number of possible hypotheses for any given situation is best. It does this by applying three principles: predictivity, parsimony and credibility. Predictivity means that an hypothesis must give us some idea of what we'll find next (otherwise it's scientifically useless), parsimony means that an hypothesis must be efficient in its use of "magic numbers" (so, for example, five dots in a row would be best described by a linear equation not a quintic equation), and credibility means that an hypothesis must have survived attempted falsification. Of these, credibility is the most important, followed by predictivity and then parsimony (this is partly because predictivity is a necessary condition for credibility).

Your conjecture does not, as it stands, make any predictions, so can't be considered an hypothesis. To rectify this, you'll need to:
1) increase its specificity until you can use it to make a prediction of the form described above
2) confirm that the current best-of-breed scientific hypotheses would not also make that prediction (ideally, they shouldn't even leave open the possibility of that prediction being true, but you can't have everything)
3) go out and test the prediction

I repeat: for your conjectures to be scientifically valid, it is not sufficient to present existing evidence in support of each of them. To match the level of current origins science, you must also be able to derive and confirm predictions from them. Otherwise, it really is just a "just so story". Predictivity is what makes the difference.

As an aside:
 Quote Why does it always seem that every time the word 'God' is even mentioned, everybody runs for cover and says it's not science?

Because over the centuries scientists have shown an alarming tendency to get sucked into ultimately-unsuccessful research of the paranormal and cease to ever again produce useful scientific results. That's not a tendency that anyone particularly wants to encourage, so it's considered valid to basically tell students: "It's a dead end. Live with it." Plus, of course, a wide array of folks claim erroneously to have scientific support for their religious beliefs, which effectively dilutes science's trademark.

Another aside:
 Quote I just have to laugh ... "only a few  ... mmm ... like Dawkins, for example ... he's not very influential... not many others ..." OK.  Whatever.

As I understand it, Dawkins merely says that modern science proves that God doesn't necessarily exist, not that He doesn't exist. It's a necessary condition for atheism, not a sufficient condition.

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