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 x_file
Joined: 6/25/2006
Msg: 2
A Theory of TheoriesPage 1 of 2    (1, 2)


Why do fully intelligent, even seemingly hyper-intelligent people state particular theories as fact ?


What's the other option? Think about it. A fool who persists in his foley shall become wise.



Scientific theories are changing on a daily basis, some people need to add ; "as far as we know" or something to that effect to their statements .


No, they don't. It's implied that theory X holds true as far as they know. If they know more, then will have a new theory to express that extra knowledge.
 iasc
Joined: 1/12/2008
Msg: 3
A Theory of Theories
Posted: 2/10/2008 9:55:16 AM
The first paragraph from wikipedia conflates the notions of theory and fact. For scientists, "theory" and "fact" are distinct concepts. Theory is an explanation which is implicitly subject to possible falsification. Fact is a single observation or measurement which should not be subject to falsification.

Evolution by natural selection is a theory. Granted, it's widely accepted in the scientific community, but it is not itself "fact."

Inheritance of mutations has been observed, i.e., has been confirmed as fact in multiple instances.
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 4
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A Theory of Theories
Posted: 2/10/2008 2:06:07 PM
I was pulled up for doing this about 6 months ago, because the group I am in found it incredibly insulting to for me to make absolute statements, even when it was 100% true. I was told that I would not be offensive if I qualified my statements by stating "in my opinion" and things like that, as it gave people the freedom to make up their own minds about whether my statements were true or not. So I appeared less arrogant and more knowledgeable.

I also found that a lot of people were aware that there were fallacies with my way of thinking, even though such thinking was scientifically documented as fact, but I (and presumably those scientists who proposed those ideas) simply was not aware of that research. However, because I sounded so adamant in my view, other people didn't want to tell me when they had knowledge on the subject that was contrary to mine, for fear of starting a row.

So now I find that I learn a lot more and get on much better with people because I qualify a lot of what I say.

Maybe a lot of people have yet to learn that "life lesson".
 FrogO_Oeyes
Joined: 8/21/2005
Msg: 5
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A Theory of Theories
Posted: 2/10/2008 8:07:31 PM

Evolution is accepted but the reason it may still be considered theory is because

is because evolution is a fact, and the theory of evolution is an explanation for the fact. The explanation is not observable, the fact is. In this case both of the two main aspects of the theory are observable facts: selection and evolution, and every observation [there have been millions of such observations, of a wide variety] agrees with natural selection driving evolution. That makes the "theory" highly corroborated, unrefuted, and easy to think of in absolute terms. Notwithstanding that when Joe Blow on the street speaks of the theory, he only states "evolution" and doesn't realize that the theory and the fact are actually two different things.

we are not really sure of the purpose for it.

Well...no. Natural selection, one of the key components of the theory, is the cause. There is no "purpose" per se. Evolution is a the result you get when you eliminate the alternatives.

but not the bigger picture as to why it happens

There is no bigger picture. Random changes happen to genetic material. Those changes affect how the organism develops, and thus how well it interacts with a particular set of environmental factors. The organism which interacts better is, on average, more likely to live and reproduce, than one which does poorly. The poor ones are gradually weeded out of the gene pool, the best ones for the job pass on their genes. Habitats change, life moves to new places, and genes continue to change at random. As a result, every organism is always subject to selection. There's no purpose, it's just what...happens. The natural outcome is increasingly complex and specialized or adaptable species.

People can even debate what evolution actually is and may argue that we aren't evolving but adapting

Those who debate this don't actually know what evolution is. It has a definition, and they ignore that to suit their own ends.

Obviously, evolution and the theory of evolution are the most obvious subjects relevant to this thread. It might also be appropriate to look at the converse of the OP's question:

Why do the ignorant insist on scientific theories being "just an unsubstantiated guess"?

Don't answer that, the answer is within the first four words of the question.
 transcend
Joined: 1/13/2007
Msg: 6
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A Theory of Theories
Posted: 2/10/2008 9:35:35 PM
The motivation to discuss ideas has a lot more to do with our own level of satisfaction
on one point or another than it does to any real knowledge that we can't wait to share.
We use an internal set of standards that usually hides all the demons we point and laugh at in others. Does it matter if someone practices a set of behaviours that appears to be nuts , without rhyme or justification if the end result is they can function well enough to get by and can consistently avoid feeding off their fellow citizens figuratively or literally? Its entertainment that keeps me talking.. I really enjoy watching a good mind beat an idea into a form that stands alone and continues to do
so. More significantly, to be strong enough to inspire an even larger concept .

We object to a idea's destination and then proceed to walk uptrail to begin to tear it down. I wonder if we can find a balance between what moves us to add or subtract and the speed of thought necessary to tap the best of our capabilities..

Stop and think works best with a determination to still feel the need for speed in action

How long a view can we afford to ignore in jumping to the tinkle of every warning bell?
 FrogO_Oeyes
Joined: 8/21/2005
Msg: 7
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A Theory of Theories
Posted: 2/10/2008 10:14:27 PM

YOU DO NOT KNOW THIS and no one does for sure

I don't need to. It's not required by, nor refuted by the theory of evolution. It's irrelevant to the theory, just like gravity and quantum theory have no influence on it. The theory of evolution is a very simple one which doesn't require addressing any other theories.

you are focusing on the details

That's how science works. You reduce the questions until you have two alternatives. Disprove one and the other MUST be true, even if your explanation of why is incorrect. You can't obtain concise answers if your questions are broad and complex, because you can't rule out all the alternatives.
2 answers only. If you allow broader questions, then you have 2x2, or 2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2...you now have 128 possible answers. How much harder is it to choose one? Science reduces to two. Instead of trying to pick one answer among 128, you eliminate one of two, before moving on to additional simple questions. Eight simple questions with two possibilities each, rather than one complex question with 128 possibilities.

You said that very definatively yet, this is your own theory

It's not *mine*, and it's not theory. It's demonstrable fact. If you are referring to my "no bigger picture statement", then you're out of context. The statement was addressing the idea of a greater purpose to evolution - evolution doesn't need, require, or address ANY "purpose", making any such purpose superfluous to the theory. Whether or not there is such a purpose, evolution continues to work the same and the theory is unaffected.

by my understanding, you don't think really matter

You understand incorrectly. Those patterns are addressed by other fields of science and aren't relevant to the theory of evolution. They most certainly influence everything, but they don't influence the theory. Rain falls. Why it falls doesn't change the fact that it erodes or that life evolves. Understanding why things happen does not change the fact that they do. The theory of evolution is the "why" of the fact of evolution. Quantum theory and the theory of gravity help us to understand the nature of the universe , but once again, no matter what those theories say, they address issues which are extraneous to evolution.

However, if they didn't do these things, you wouldn't even have a theory of evolution to quibble over.

That's like arguing that doctors are better than engineers. Apples and oranges. Both have roles to play, and neither really has anything to do with the other.
 FrogO_Oeyes
Joined: 8/21/2005
Msg: 8
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A Theory of Theories
Posted: 2/10/2008 11:33:37 PM
No, that is how theory works...not factual science

No. This is how science produces theories. Science is a philosophy which involves rigorous testing and elimination. Theories are what results when alternative hypotheses have been ruled out by the scientific method.

Science does not normally prove what is true. It disproves what is false. That's part of why testing involves an hypothesis and an alternative hypothesis. A carefully structured experiment includes all possible outcomes in one of those two hypotheses. It's a big universe - you cannot prove a hypothesis to be true. You CAN prove it false, and by so doing, the other is true by default. It may be vague in nature, but testing has reduced the number of alternatives. It's like working with a pile of smarties: test for "blue" or "not blue". When you eliminate "blue", the remaining pile of choices is smaller and you can seek a new test, such as "red" versus "not red".

it is speculation because there may be pieces of the pie you are missing to come up with your two alternatives.

A properly structured test doesn't have missing pie pieces. One hypothesis is often specific, and the other vague and inclusive of all alternatives. If you're lucky enough to disprove the vague hypothesis, you're doing well. Otherwise, you may at least drastically reduce the number of possible choices.

To approach science in this way could lead to many incorrect assumptions

Quite the contrary. It's the scientific method, and used properly, it's rather conclusive. Incorrect assumptions are not caused by the approach, but by the observer. Incorrect assumptions often result from bad science, but the scientific method is not bad science. Creationism would be, if it could be called science at all.

Just assume you are correct and dismiss other perspectives

I generally don't. I do when I see an abuse of science. The most common example of this is when a layperson discusses a scientific theory, while using a "street" definition of "theory". A scientific theory such as the theory of evolution, does NOT use a street definition. Any such argument is a strawman fallacy, which attempts to disprove the actual scientific theory by disproving a lay definition which does not actually apply. A scientific theory is an explanation confirmed by scientific method and lacking any viable alternative.

ALL I am saying here is that by sometimes people who sound knowledgeable

Quite true. And those of us who ARE knowledgeable like to shoot their arguments full of holes for all to see.

because you are talking about your beliefs which are not necessarily substantiated by fact.

Since you changed from third person to second, I'll make the reasonable assumption you mean me. I spoke of definitions, not beliefs, so the facts are hard to refute.

Put yourself under the microscope of some peer review

Done that.

If you are an intelligent, well read, or educated individual, the amount of "fact" you can present in support of belief can actually give people who are lesser informed the wrong opinion and mislead them

That's true, but it doesn't take a genius to mislead the ignorant. In fact, deliberate misdirection is quite often caused by the semi-ignorant. Most of what they achieve in this is not from "fact" but from logical fallacy and people's willingness to fall for it. Again I would refer to creationists, notably Dwayne T Gish and his ilk. Their successful convincing of an unscientific public is achieved NOT from fact, but from omission of fact, and a stack of logical fallacies.
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 9
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A Theory of Theories
Posted: 2/11/2008 3:06:14 PM

Their successful convincing of an unscientific public is achieved NOT from fact, but from omission of fact, and a stack of logical fallacies.
I assume by "fact", you mean "scientific fact", such as Late described in msg 7:
In science, "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent."
To Aristotle, it was a "scientific fact" that the Sun revolved around the Earth.

I'm just creasing up here.
 BethesdaBear
Joined: 1/29/2008
Msg: 10
A Theory of Theories
Posted: 2/13/2008 8:13:01 PM
I heard something from Carl Sagan one time in the 70's series Cosmos that might be relevant to this question and other questions about how spiritual energy can affect this universe without us detecting it directly with our science instruments. Its a matter of dimensions.. he suggests there are several types of dimensions.. the 4 spacial-time dimensions which are all interrlated through Einstein's Theory or Relativity and that there can other dimensions perhaps "controlling" dimensions. Here's his example and it really opened my eyes.

Imagine for a moment that instead of 3 spatial dimensions x-y-z that our universe is only 2 dimensions... x and y. In other words, we live on a geometric plane which we can represent by a flat sheet of paper of 0 thickness.

Now suppose a 3-D object (let's say an irregular sphere, with the shape of an apple) from a parallel universe that is 3 dimensional were to pass through our 2-D universe. As the apple slowly passed through our 2-D universe we would see at any moment in time an slice of the irregular round shape passing through it. Since the Z-dimension has no meaning in our 2-D universe we cannot predict or even guess from moment to moment how that irregular circle-shape will look as the apple continues to pass through our 2-D universe. I think he called this extra dimension a dominant or controlling dimension because the universe of fewer dimensions can be completely affected by that extra dimension without being able to do anything about it. In that sense the extra dimension of the parallel universe can appear to be a "force" that cannot be measured, quantified, predicted, etc. Now just bump our universe up by a dimension and the parallel universe up by a dimension. Maybe time is a common dimension to both universes and maybe the controlling universe has the 3 spacial dimensions but yet they are used in a different way.. in other words its devoid of matter but just a type of energy, spiritual energy and since it passes through it leaves no trace in our universe, just an influence and that extra dimension serves as a manner to shape or control that spiritual energy as it affects our universe.

In a word, the more science finds out about itself, the more confusing and complicated its questions become, leading science's spiritural journey from celestial spheres of the 1400's through Classical Physicals, Quantum Physics, Theoretical Physics, String theory, multple universes, M theory.... . it looks we have come around in one big circle in the world of physics..The theories of physics are becoming more complex and bugs bunny / elmer fudd all the time trying to fill in all the holes that just can't seem to be filled in any other way. Modern physicists are becoming desperate to pull it all together. . It seems like the only answer to all this.. is that there is a God of some type.. or at least some significant spiritual force(s). Maybe we will all find out on December 21, 2012 ? I hope not. Its too soon :-) I'd like more time to dance first.
 MtLoopHiker
Joined: 8/6/2005
Msg: 11
A Theory of Theories
Posted: 2/14/2008 8:40:49 PM
FrogO_Oeyes writes:

....you cannot prove a hypothesis to be true. You CAN prove it false, and by so doing, the other is true by default. It may be vague in nature, but testing has reduced the number of alternatives. It's like working with a pile of smarties: test for "blue" or "not blue". When you eliminate "blue", the remaining pile of choices is smaller and you can seek a new test, such as "red" versus "not red"..... abuse of science....The most common example of this is when a layperson discusses a scientific theory, while using a "street" definition of "theory". A scientific theory such as the theory of evolution, does NOT use a street definition. Any such argument is a strawman fallacy....


You're never gonna get laid, you know.
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I'm Keeding! Nice argument!
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 12
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A Theory of Theories
Posted: 2/15/2008 2:49:31 PM

....you cannot prove a hypothesis to be true. You CAN prove it false, and by so doing, the other is true by default. It may be vague in nature, but testing has reduced the number of alternatives. It's like working with a pile of smarties: test for "blue" or "not blue". When you eliminate "blue", the remaining pile of choices is smaller and you can seek a new test, such as "red" versus "not red"
Well, this works, as long as the number of colours of the Smarties you have is the same as the number of possible theories you could imagine. But sadly, the number of colours of Smarties is more than the number of theories that some people in Science seem able to imagine, which is about 1,000,000,000,000 times less than the number of theories that you could imagine. If you had a proper process of elimination, that would be be a proof of the hypothesis. So, since you don't have a proof of the hypothesis, all you can say is that you proved that the things that you imagined were false, which means that the hypothesiser have a very small imagination. Time to take lessons.

..... abuse of science....The most common example of this is when a layperson discusses a scientific theory, while using a "street" definition of "theory". A scientific theory such as the theory of evolution, does NOT use a street definition.
Why would a scientist deliberately use jargon with someone that he knows will misinterpret that jargon? That is deliberately misleading people. Why would a scientist who knows the truth deliberately mislead anyone? The truth speaks for itself. It is obvious that everyone who spoke the truth would only speak the terms of the person he was speaking to.

One has to seriously question the claims of anyone who doesn't speak in terms that the other person will understand, when he has the knowledge and intelligence to do so, such as a scientist speaking to a layman, and such behaviour shows a clear sign that he is trying to mislead the layman, because his work lacks true verification, and therefore his work is likely to be false, and requires testing by an independent source.

Abuse of science? Any scientist who talked to a layman, and DIDN'T talk in the layman's terms, is abusing science.
 pappy009
Joined: 2/3/2008
Msg: 13
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A Theory of Theories
Posted: 2/20/2008 8:29:44 AM
--Why do fully intelligent, even seemingly hyper-intelligent people state particular theories as fact ? --

Well if they created the theory, then they must believe in it. So they push it. Thats how I see it, but usually the theories are part of a larger organism of theory. Theory is about adding something on to.

--Scientific theories are changing on a daily basis,--

Theories are based on assumptions thats way they are theories, until proven, its not scientific fact. We finance theories not fact. So we need to keep abreast of this in order to create more facts.
 awesomefiftyman
Joined: 12/1/2014
Msg: 14
A Theory of Theories
Posted: 12/11/2014 9:13:02 PM
Why do fully intelligent, even seemingly hyper-intelligent people state particular theories as fact ? Scientific theories are changing on a daily basis, some people need to add ; "as far as we know" or something to that effect to their statements .


We would have to open up the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to fully evaluate the question.

It is still an ever occurring issue on POF.
 IgorFrankensteen
Joined: 6/29/2009
Msg: 15
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A Theory of Theories
Posted: 12/12/2014 4:49:14 AM
Actually, this question overlooks the actual concern it is involved with.

This is about education, but in a much broader way than the now-ancient OP realized.

The number one reason why people use the word "theory" incorrectly, is that they have not had sufficient education in Science, in English, and in Social Interaction, or History, or Politics. That's to start with.

Psychological disorders are the LEAST of the concerns involved.
 awesomefiftyman
Joined: 12/1/2014
Msg: 16
A Theory of Theories
Posted: 12/12/2014 5:36:20 PM
the·o·ry noun \ˈthē-ə-rē, ˈthir-ē\
: an idea or set of ideas that is intended to explain facts or events

: an idea that is suggested or presented as possibly true but that is not known or proven to be true
meaning, not truly true or simply, not true
: the general principles or ideas that relate to a particular subject
 awesomefiftyman
Joined: 12/1/2014
Msg: 17
A Theory of Theories
Posted: 12/12/2014 8:24:50 PM
Something that andyaa reminds me of:

In psychology,
cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.

Leon Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals tend to become psychologically uncomfortable and they are motivated to attempt to reduce this dissonance, as well as actively avoiding situations and information which are likely to increase it.

....................

Currently, andyaa can't seem to absorb what he reads.
He can't even absorb the information of the links that he posts.
Example is that every link he posts state that time travel is hypothetical.
He can't seem to understand that if it is hypothetical then that means that time travel is impossible for humans.
 robaustralia
Joined: 12/1/2014
Msg: 18
A Theory of Theories
Posted: 12/13/2014 10:53:54 PM
Sounds like Autism to me! Perhaps we should make allowances for mentally deficient pseudo scientists .
 IgorFrankensteen
Joined: 6/29/2009
Msg: 19
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A Theory of Theories
Posted: 12/14/2014 6:49:51 AM

Example is that every link he posts state that time travel is hypothetical.
He can't seem to understand that if it is hypothetical then that means that time travel is impossible for humans.


Actually, that's wrong. The definition of the word "hypothetical" does INCLUDE impossible suggestions, but it also includes true statements of fact, as well as supposition, imaginary proposals, and so on. Hypothetical statements are commonly PORTIONS of larger arguments. Not arguments in and of themselves.

I haven't seen the posts you say prove andyaa got things wrong, so I wont comment on them. However, your statement here and now, is incorrect.
 awesomefiftyman
Joined: 12/1/2014
Msg: 20
A Theory of Theories
Posted: 12/14/2014 9:44:22 AM
Context IgorFrankensteen , context.


definition of the word "hypothetical" does INCLUDE impossible suggestions...


time travel is impossible for humans


I believe , in the context that I used it, I am correct.

As for you not seeing the posts?
Not a stretch to see them, as those threads were right beside this one.
Perhaps you just choose to not comment.
 emotionalheat
Joined: 6/27/2007
Msg: 21
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A Theory of Theories
Posted: 12/18/2014 9:53:54 PM
Perhaps the confusion comes into play when people are discussing theories with such a strong foundation that many other theories have been positively developed from the first. One example is Newton's theory of gravity. It was considered to be extremely accurate until Einstein. But even today Newton's theory is accurate and serves as the foundation of other proven theories on gravity, even Einstein's. Unfortunately, Newton's theory has a limitations we could never have known until we advanced.

Today Newton's theory is still taught because it is still as accurate as it ever was, now we just know its limitations.
 awesomefiftyman
Joined: 12/1/2014
Msg: 22
A Theory of Theories
Posted: 12/18/2014 10:47:43 PM
Yes but you can test Newton's theory and it works within its' limitations.

There is no test for humans travelling time.
Worm holes don't even exist. We imagined them and found that our math supported the imaginary concept.
 emotionalheat
Joined: 6/27/2007
Msg: 23
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A Theory of Theories
Posted: 12/19/2014 7:40:10 AM

Yes but you can test Newton's theory and it works within its' limitations.
There is no test for humans travelling time.
Worm holes don't even exist. We imagined them and found that our math supported the imaginary concept.


We don't have to have a current ability to test a hypothesis in order to come up with one. We would never progress in science if we didn't 'imagine' the possibilities.

If a hypothesis is upheld by any currently acceptable measure, ie mathematics, then it rests upon a foundation that scientists generally recognize and the hypothesis will likely be testable at some point. Einstein thought he was a failure - today we know what a raging success he was.

In the field of mathematics some theories had not been accepted for centuries, today they are (ie Fermat's Theorem).
A hypothesis is simply a statement about a possibility. What follows the hypothesis in philosophy or science is the ‘argument’ detailing the inductive or deductive reasoning that is used to convince others that the logic, follows from the course of actions taken.

A hypothesis about spiritual beings in not only a valid hypothesis but such ideas led to the hugely popular study of the metaphysical in the field of philosophy. Of course science has long been associated only with studying what’s possible in the physical world.

So whether one hypothesizes about worm holes, time travel, or the spiritual realm all hypotheses are valid but it’s up to the individual putting forth the hypothesis to explain the premises that the conjecture is based on. That explanation will most likely determine whether the discussion will be a philosophical one or one of science.
 awesomefiftyman
Joined: 12/1/2014
Msg: 24
A Theory of Theories
Posted: 12/19/2014 10:26:53 AM

the hypothesis will likely be testable at some point


Depending on what we are talking about, that IS the debate!
BIG maybe that worm holes exist.
The problem is that the hypothesis will likely NOT be testable at any point in time.


it’s up to the individual putting forth the hypothesis to explain the premises that the conjecture is based on. That explanation will most likely determine whether the discussion will be a philosophical one or one of science.


YOU NAILED IT!!!!

The topic of humans travelling time is NOT testable at this point AND may never be.
The reason is because the math relies on philosophical proposals to fill all the holes.
The main one being the "worm hole".
The philosophical position for humans to travel time was relying on using a worm hole to get past the light speed problem to travel time.
The problem is that you would need to travel light speed to get to the worm hole. (chicken or egg dilemna)

As for the spiritual realm/spiritual beings, that is stuck in the philosophical, as there is no math or scientific phenomena that supports it. (A whole other debate but I enjoy - I'm open to those possibilities)

Although, the "Ship in a Bottle" episode from the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation is one path of possible explanations to support the theory of a creator.
 emotionalheat
Joined: 6/27/2007
Msg: 25
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A Theory of Theories
Posted: 12/19/2014 10:02:03 PM
Oh, ok. Thanks for your patience and your explanation. I find it interesting. I'm heading out of town for a few days but I'll check to see what's happening here on my return so I can stay caught up and maybe take part in the discussion.
 Trynottobecreepy
Joined: 10/26/2014
Msg: 26
A Theory of Theories
Posted: 2/9/2015 2:29:15 PM
I love you guys! But anyone who tries to speak scientifically and uses the term "prove" instead of "fail to disprove" makes me want to stick a fork in my eye :S
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