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Friday, January 14, 2005

Do They Need Each Other?

That is, does science need faith to establish its validity or does faith need science for the same? Again, the question is one of perspective and purpose, not definition.

For example, the force of gravity requires neither an acceptance nor a refutation of belief in a creator to be established as true. Science, properly done, is based upon an experimental proof of a hypothetical construct. The scientific method is used to achieve this properly. Something that a student of academia should notice is that the farther one gets from 'hard' science, the farther we also get from true applicaiton of the scientific method - and the closer we get to a kind of faith. Allow me to expand:

In the study of science, experiments are conducted to determine if a hypothesis is true. In any experiment, there is a likelihood of the occurence happening due to chance. Because of that, there has to be an established measure that states what that likelihood of chance occurence is allowed to be in order for the tested hypothesis to be declared true.

In Physics, we conduct experiments with an acceptable level of chance occurrence of 1 in 20,000,000. That means that there the hypothesis is declared to be true if it could be achieved by accident only 1 time out of 20 million, or an alpha of .0000005.

In Psychology, we also conduct experiments, but the acceptable level of accidental occurrence is usually 1 in 20, or and alpha of .05! On one level this makes sense, because humans are far less predictable than the top quark. On the other hand, it leads to numerous changes in how the field feels about subjects, since accidental 'proofs' are much more common.

Even worse, 'soft' sciences are prone to influence by politics and social pressures. Prior to 1970, homosexual behavior was classified as abnormal according to DSM-II, the manual for clinical psychologists. After violent demonstrations by homosexual advocacy groups outside the convention for the American Psychological Association (APA), the APA had it removed from the list. Homosexuality occurs in less than 3% of Americans, according to the Lamba Legal Defense Fund's brief in Lawrence v. Texas. As it is under 5%, it should be classified as a different set of behavior than the norm, by psychology's own standards. That was not the politically acceptable behavior for the APA, so they continue to condend that homosexuality is 'normal' behavior.

Thus, whether we agree or not, we see how 'science' is subverted to an agenda, and in effect, requires a kind of faith to justify it - a faith that what the scientific community in question says is true is, in fact, true. Why? Because what 'science' is declaring is not in accordance with the data examined and the standards for evaluating it.

Unfortunately, faith is equally susceptible.

Next: Faith and politics

2 Comments:

  • Hey great blog! You seem to be writing about exactly the same issues that interest me. Of course, I disagree with many of the conclusions but I love the dialog. I don't have time now but hopefully tonight or tomorrow I'll get a chance to trackback some concepts where I agree and disagree.

    In a nutshell, though, I think we disagree and what a fact is. It seems to me you find facts very straight forward, some things are, other things are not and a few things temporarily hang around as unknown. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) I believe we understand things at varying levels of confidence and where we draw the line for 'fact' is somewhat arbitrary. One one side of the scale we have only one 100% philosophical truth, "I exist". I think we are all willing to push the definition of 'fact' a bit further than this. We have everything we observer and can experimentally measure, we have theories that have reproducible expected results and so on.

    I choose to limit the word 'fact' to just direct observables. Thus, even the laws of thermodynamics are not facts, although they are on very, very stable ground.

    By Blogger Mark, at 1/14/2005 05:29:00 PM  

  • I certainly agree, Mark, that there is no universally accepted 'fact' line where something becomes one, or does not, beyond the incontrovertible. I know that it is very difficult for a theory to become a law, and simply because a gazillion experiments fail to disprove a theory does not make it fact. I would postulate that scientific fact is that which is beyond honest argument, but that philosophical fact cannot be similarly defined - mostly because so few understand proper application of logic in an argument. I try to maintain a level of logic which is clear to the casual observer, yet any assumptions that I am making in an invalid manner can still be pointed out. I am willing to call a scientific law a fact, and recognize that there are certainly facts that exist whether I believe them to be true or not!

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 1/16/2005 12:36:00 AM  

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