Can anything in science technically be proven?

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

Can anything in science technically be proven?

Postby Mattcook15 on June 17th, 2017, 10:45 pm 

Scientific experiments and observations can be evidence to support or disprove, however, can anything actually be 100% proven?
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Re: Can anything in science technically be proven?

Postby someguy1 on June 17th, 2017, 10:56 pm 

Mattcook15 » June 17th, 2017, 8:45 pm wrote:Scientific experiments and observations can be evidence to support or disprove, however, can anything actually be 100% proven?


Isaac Asimov wrote a famous essay on this subject, called The Relativity of Wrong.

My answer to him was, "John, when people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."


http://chem.tufts.edu/answersinscience/ ... fwrong.htm
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Re: Can anything in science technically be proven?

Postby mitchellmckain on June 17th, 2017, 11:32 pm 

In a court of law the aim is to prove something beyond reasonable doubt. Can anything in science be proven beyond reasonable doubt? Yes. When all the objective evidence supports a conclusion then denial is not reasonable. However, science rests on the assumption that there are no demons out there arranging all the evidence to deceive us. So is it possible that the conclusions are actually wrong? Yes, it is possible. It is possible the world was created this morning with all our memories as they are. But just because something is possible does not mean it is reasonable to believe it, and these possibilities are not of the reasonable variety, at least not until there is some kind of evidence to support such a conclusion.
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Re: Can anything in science technically be proven?

Postby Dave_Oblad on June 18th, 2017, 12:20 am 

Hi all,

It's my belief that history is not erased nor static.

If such is the case, then a quantum event may happen tomorrow, located a billion years ago.

If left uncorrected and if it amplifies (butterfly effect), it may lead to a revised history.. such that George Washington was not our first president of the USA.
http://www.constitution.org/hist/first8pres.htm
Of course, all our history would automatically be changed and we would remember being taught an alternate history.

How can we prove our History is immutable?

A quantum event might occur in the past that leads to your loss of a sibling tonight. But you would have no memory of such a loss, nor would that sibling be recorded in any form anywhere. You literally would not know if you lost a sibling.. so how many times has this happened already? How stable do you believe your past actually is?

How do you prove your history isn't under constant revisionism?

Best wishes,
Dave :^)
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Re: Can anything in science technically be proven?

Postby irfuzzbucket on June 20th, 2017, 10:16 pm 

No. Nothing in science is proven to 100% certainty. Every scientific study incorporates a statistical analysis which tells you what the odds are that the result happened out of dumb luck. The aim is to get a result where there was less than a 5% chance that it happened by dumb luck. Then you always want multiple studies to confirm.

This is why scientists and philosophers/religious people have disputes in debate. Philosophy deals with absolute (100% certainty) while science deals in what i call "reasonable certainty" (less than 100%)
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Re: Can anything in science technically be proven?

Postby wolfhnd on June 22nd, 2017, 1:45 am 

Sufficiently true works for me.
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Re: Can anything in science technically be proven?

Postby NoShips on June 22nd, 2017, 2:16 am 

irfuzzbucket » June 21st, 2017, 11:16 am wrote:No. Nothing in science is proven to 100% certainty. Every scientific study incorporates a statistical analysis which tells you what the odds are that the result happened out of dumb luck. The aim is to get a result where there was less than a 5% chance that it happened by dumb luck. Then you always want multiple studies to confirm.

This is why scientists and philosophers/religious people have disputes in debate. Philosophy deals with absolute (100% certainty) while science deals in what i call "reasonable certainty" (less than 100%)



This seems very problematic to me. What you seem to be saying is that scientific claims (or perhaps, more charitably, only certain claims), enjoy a very high degree of probability. But what kind of probability?

Subjective probability raises fewer problems. If a scientist assigns a subjective probability of 99% to a particular claim, that's her business. It's a free country LOL. This is to say nothing more than the scientist is extremely confident of the claim's truth; not that the claim is indeed very close to truth. That's a different question. Perhaps in an ideal world, the two would converge.

The personal assignment of a high subjective probability does not mean that the claim might not still be hopelessly and utterly wrong, right?

So when you speak of "odds" and "chance", are you using the words in a subjective (i.e. degrees of belief) or objective sense? If the former, never mind me; if the latter, how is that justification achieved?

How would you ever demonstrate that relativity theory, say, or evolutionary theory has a 99% (or whatever) chance -- objectively! -- of being true?
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Re: Can anything in science technically be proven?

Postby Don Juan on July 6th, 2017, 3:46 pm 

Mattcook15 » June 18th, 2017, 4:45 am wrote:Scientific experiments and observations can be evidence to support or disprove, however, can anything actually be 100% proven?


At what boundary or criteria of validity?
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Re: Can anything in science technically be proven?

Postby BioWizard on July 6th, 2017, 4:45 pm 

An important distinction here is between the confidence in an experimental finding/hypothesis-testing-result and the confidence in a scientific concept/theory. Reproducing an experimental result increases our confidence that the null hypothesis, which the experiment was designed to test, is invalid (and therefore increases our confidence that our hypothesis is valid). This is mathematically quantifiable using parameteric and nonparametric statistics (everybody's beloved p value).

Confidence in the theory, however, increases as the number of >orthogonally designed< experimental tests that invalidate alternative theories increases. This is more difficult to mathematically quantify (if at all possible).
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Re: Can anything in science technically be proven?

Postby BioWizard on July 6th, 2017, 4:50 pm 

Unfortunately, many fail (intentionally or otherwise) to acknowledge this distinction and act as if a small p value is enough to "prove" anything. Which has unfortunately resulted in a lot of shit science.

Only a coherent body of knowledge, produced by experiments that try to chip away at a theory from every which way, can increase our confidence in any scientific concept or theory. Thankfully, this can also help us flush away shit science (hopefully).
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