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The scientific method and the science delusion

Updated: Oct 31, 2022


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The scientific method by professor C. Quigley


Before proceeding to examine any theories of historical change, we should review what we understand by the term "scientific method." In general, this method has three parts which we might call (1) gathering evidence, (2) making a hypothesis, and (3) testing the hypothesis.


The first of these, "gathering evidence," refers to collecting all the observations relevant to the topic being studied. The important point here is that we must have all the evidence, for, obviously, omission of a few observations, or even one vital case, might make a considerable change in our final conclusions. It is equally obvious, I hope, that we cannot judge that we have all the evidence or cannot know what observations are relevant to our subject unless we already have some kind of tentative hypothesis or theory about the nature of that subject. In most cases a worker does have some such preliminary theory. This leads to two warnings. In the first place, the three parts of scientific methodology listed above were listed in order, not because a scientist performs them separately in sequence, but simply because we must discuss them in an orderly fashion. And, in the second place, any theories, even those regarded as final conclusions at the end of all three parts of scientific method, remain tentative. As scientific methodology is practiced, all three parts are used together at all stages, and therefore no theory, however rigorously tested, is ever final, but remains at all times tentative, subject to new observation and continued testing by such observation. No scientist ever believes that he has the final answer or the ultimate truth on anything. Rather he feels that science advances by a series of successive (and, he hopes, closer) approximations to the truth; and, since the truth is never finally reached, the work of scientists must indefinitely continue. Science, as one writer put it, is like a single light in darkness; as it grows brighter its shows more clearly the area of illumination and, simultaneously, lengthens the circle of surrounding darkness.


Having gathered all the "relevant" evidence, the scientist may proceed to the second part of scientific methodology, making a hypothesis. In doing this, two rules must be followed: (a) the hypothesis must explain all the observations and (b) the hypothesis must be the simplest one that will explain them. These two rules might be summed up in the statement that a scientific hypothesis must be adequate and it must be simple. Once again let us confess that these two

rules are idealistic rather than practicable, but they remain, nevertheless, the goals by which a scientist guides his activities. When we say that a hypothesis must be adequate, and thus must include all of the relevant observations, we are saying something simple. But carrying out this simple admonition is extremely difficult. It is quite true that every scientific hypothesis suffers from inadequate evidence—that is, it does not include in its explanation all the relevant evidence, and would be different if it did so. It is not easy to tear any event out of the context of the universe in which it occurred without detaching it from some factor that has influenced it. This is difficult enough in the physical sciences. It is immensely more difficult in the social sciences. It is likely that in any society the factors influencing an event are so numerous that any effort to detach an event from its social context must inevitably do violence to it. The extreme specialization of most social studies today, concentrating attention on narrow fields and brief periods, is a great hindrance to our understanding of such special fields, although the fact is not so widely recognized as it should be, since any specialist's work is usually examined only by his

fellow specialists who have the same biases and blind spots as he does himself. But a specialist from one area of study who examines the work being done in some other area cannot

fail to notice how the overspecialized training of the experts in his new area of interest has handicapped their understanding of that area.


The second requirement of a scientific hypothesis—that it should be simple—is also more difficult to carry out in practice than it is to write down in words. Essentially, it means that a hypothesis should explain the existing observations by making the fewest assumptions and by inferring the simplest relationships. This is so vital that a hypothesis is scientific or fails to be scientific on this point alone. Yet in spite of its importance, this requirement of scientific method

is frequently not recognized to be important by many active scientists. The requirement that a scientific hypothesis must be "simple" or, as it is sometimes expressed, "economical" does not arise merely from a scientist's desire to be simple. Nor does it arise from some esthetic urge, although this is not so remote from the problem as might seem at first glance. When a mathematician says of a mathematical demonstration that it is "beautiful," he means exactly what the word "beautiful" means to the rest of us, and this same element is undoubtedly significant in the formulation of theory by a scientist as well. The rule of simplicity or economy in scientific hypothesis has a number of corollaries. One of these, called "the uniformity of nature," assumes that the whole universe is made of the same substances and obeys the same laws and, accordingly, will behave in the same way under the same conditions. Such an assumption does not have to be proved—indeed, it could not be proved. It is made for two reasons.


First, because it is simpler to assume that things are the same than it is to assume that they are different. And, second, while we cannot prove this assumption to be correct even if it is correct, we can, if it is not correct, show this by finding a single exceptional case. We could demonstrate the uniformity of nature only by comparing all parts of the universe with all other parts, something that clearly could never be achieved. But we can assume this, because it is a simpler hypothesis than its contrary; and, if it is wrong, we can show this error by producing one case of a substance or a physical law that is different in one place or time from other places or times. To speak briefly, we might say that scientific assumptions cannot be proved but they can be refuted, and they must always be put in a form that will allow such refutation. Other examples or applications of the rule of uniformity of nature would be the scientific assumptions that "man is part of nature" or that "all men have the same potentialities." Neither of these could be proved, because this would involve the impossible task of comparing all men with one another (including both past and future men) and with nonhuman nature, but these assumptions can be made under the rule of simplicity of scientific hypothesis or its corollary, the rule of the uniformity of nature. Thus they do not require proof. But, on the other hand, if these assumptions are not correct, they could be disproved by one, or a few clear-cut cases of exceptions to the rule.


Thus, in the final analysis, these rules about scientific hypotheses are not derived from any sense of economy or of esthetics, but rather arise from the nature of demonstration and proof. The familiar judicial rule that a man is to be assumed innocent until he has been proved guilty is

based on the same fundamental principles as these rules about scientific hypotheses, and, like these, rests ultimately on the nature of proof. We must assume that a man is innocent (not guilty) until we have proof of his guilt because it is always simpler to assume that things are not so than to assume that they are, and also because no man can prove the negative "not guilty" except by the impossible procedure of producing proof of innocence during every moment of his past life. (If he omits a moment, the charge of guilt could then be focused on the period for which proof of innocence is unobtainable.) But by making the general and negative assumption of innocence for all men, we can disprove this for any single man by the much easier procedure of producing evidence of guilt for a single time, place, and deed. Since it is true that a general negative cannot be demonstrated, we are entitled to make that general negative assumption under the rule of the simplicity of scientific hypothesis, and to demand refutation of such an assumption by specific positive proof. A familiar example of this method could be seen in the

fact that we cannot be required to prove that ghosts and sea serpents and clairvoyance do not exist. Scientifically we assume that these things do not exist, and require no evidence to justify this assumption, while the burden of producing proofs must fall on anyone who says that such things do exist.



Closely related to the erroneous idea that science is a body of knowledge is the equally erroneous idea that scientific theories are true. One example of this belief is the idea that such theories begin as hypotheses and somehow are "proved" and become "laws." There is no way in which any scientific theory could be proved, and as a result such theories always remain hypotheses. The fact that such theories "work" and permit us to manipulate and even transform the physical world is no proof that these theories are true. Many theories that were clearly untrue have "worked" and continue to work for long periods. The belief that the world is a flat surface did not prevent men from moving about on its surface successfully. The acceptance of

"Aristotelian" beliefs about falling bodies did not keep people from dealing with such bodies, and doing so with considerable success. Men could have played baseball on a flat world under Aristotle's laws and still pitched curves and hit home runs with as much skill as they do today. Eventually, to be sure, erroneous theories will fail to work and their falseness will be revealed, but it may take a very long time for this to happen, especially if men continue to operate in the limited areas in which the erroneous theories were formulated. Thus scientific theories must be recognized as hypotheses and as subjective human creations no matter how long they remain unrefuted. Failure to recognize this helped to kill ancient science in the days of the Greeks.


The third part of scientific method is testing the hypothesis. This can be done in three ways: (a) by checking back, (b) by foretelling new observations, and (c)by experimentation with controls. Of these the first two are simple enough. We check back by examining all the evidence used in formulating the hypothesis to make sure that the hypothesis can explain each observation. A second kind of test, which is much more convincing, is to use the hypothesis to foretell new observations. If a theory of the solar system allows us, as Newton's did, to predict the exact time and place for a future eclipse of the sun, or if the theory makes it possible for us to calculate the size and position of an unknown planet that is subsequently found through the telescope, we may regard our hypotheses as greatly strengthened.

The third type of test of a hypothesis, experimentation with controls, is somewhat more complicated. If a man had a virus he believed to be the cause of some disease, he might test it by injecting some of it into the members of a group. Even if each person who had been injected came down with the disease, the experiment would not be a scientific one and would prove nothing. The persons injected could have been exposed to another common source of infection, and the injection might have had nothing to do with the disease. In order to have a scientific experiment, we must not inject every member of the group but only every other member, keeping the uninjected alternate members under identical conditions except for the fact that they have not been injected with the virus. The injected members we call the experimental group; the uninjected persons we call the control group. If all other conditions are the same for both groups, and the injected experimental group contract the disease while the control group do not, we have fairly certain evidence that the virus causes the disease. Notice that the conditions of the control group and the experimental group are the same except for one factor that is different (the injection), a fact allowing us to attribute any difference in final result to the one factor that is different.


- Carrol Quigley "The evolution of civilizations".




"The science delusion" by professor R. Sheldrake


I have read this amazing book and one day I will add it to my BOOK REVIEWS.


The scientific creed - the ten core beliefs that most scientists take for granted:

  1. Everything is essentially mechanical.

  2. All matter is unconscious.

  3. The total amount of matter and energy is always the same (with the exception of the Big Bang, when all the matter and energy of the universe suddenly appeared).

  4. The laws of nature are fixed.

  5. Nature is purposeless, and evolution has no goal or direction.

  6. All biological inheritance is material, carried in the genetic material, DNA, and in other material structures.

  7. Minds are inside heads and are nothing but activities of brains.

  8. Memories are stored as material traces in brains and are wiped out at death.

  9. Unexplained phenomena like telepathy are illusory.

  10. Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works.



The ten commandments of scientism


I. SCIENCE IS THE LORD THY GOD THAT CAN EXPLAIN THE MECHANISMS BEHIND EVERY OCCURRENCE IN THE UNIVERSE MADE POSSIBLE BY THE FORCE KNOWN AS “NATURE”.


II. THOU SHALT DISAVOW ANY SCIENTIFIC STUDIES OUTSIDE OF MAINSTREAM SCIENTIFIC CIRCLES THAT HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED AND DISTRIBUTED BY MAINSTREAM MEDIA.


III. DO NOT USE “BAD” SCIENCE IN “BAD” JOURNALS AS SOURCES OF INFORMATION. THY DEFINITION OF “BAD” CAN BE ADJUSTED ACCORDING TO ONE’S EMOTIONS.


IV. THOU SHALT EQUATE STAUNCH SKEPTICISM WITH DEEP INTELLECTUALISM.


V. THOU SHALT MOVE “GOAL POSTS” WHEN NECESSARY TO SUPPORT ONE’S OWN CURRENT BELIEF SYSTEM BASED ON POTENTIALLY ANTIQUATED, OUTDATED, AND AN INCOMPLETE KNOWLEDGE BASE.


VI. THOU SHALT RELY ON MASS CONSENSUS OF A BELIEF IN ORDER TO SUPPORT ONE’S OWN BELIEF. IT WOULD BE ABSURD TO PRESUME THAT LARGE GROUPS OF HEAVILY EDUCATED SCHOLARS COULD EVER BE INCORRECT.


VII. THOU SHALT NOT SPECULATE ON THE PHYSIOLOGICAL MECHANISMS OF SUPERNATURAL OCCURRENCES SUCH AS THE PLACEBO EFFECT, SPONTANEOUS REMISSION, XENOGLOSSY, ENDOGENOUSLY INDUCED ANALGESIA, AND ANY OTHER SUPERNORMAL CLAIMS.


VIII. THOU SHALT DISCARD THE EVIDENCE THAT ALTERED STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS AND CHANGES IN BRAIN ACTIVITY OCCUR IN SYNCHRONOUS FASHION WITH ALTERED LEVELS OF BIOCHEMICAL COMPOUNDS, BIOELECTRICAL ACTIVITY, SYSTEMIC FLUID COMPOSITION, BIOMAGNETIC PROPERTIES, GENE EXPRESSION, AND CELLULAR PROCESSES.


IX. HONOUR THY PRIESTS OF SCIENCE WHICH ARE FAMOUS, MAINSTREAM SCIENTIFIC FIGURES THAT PROTECT THE STATUS QUO OF MAINSTREAM ACADEMIA. IT SHALL BE CONSIDERED BLASPHEMOUS TO QUESTION THE WORDS OF THESE ACADEMIC SAGES.


X. THOU SHALT DISCARD ONE’S OWN OBSERVATIONS AS INHERENT FALSITIES UNLESS SUPPORTED BY RIGOROUS EXPERIMENTS IN MULTIPLE UNIVERSITIES PUBLISHED IN MULTIPLE, WELL KNOWN PEER-REVIEWED JOURNALS OF THE UTMOST INTEGRITY THAT VERIFY THE ACCURACY OF ONE’S OWN SENSES. THEN AND ONLY THEN WILL IT BE ACCEPTABLE TO DISCUSS OUR OBSERVATIONS IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN.




Science and the mind


"You need intelligence to build an atom bomb. Science for example is only a more focused way of the mind being applied. Science without wisdom,

which is intelligence without wisdom,

will lead to disaster."


- Eckhart Tolle


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