Re: Empiricism

Keith B Miller (
Fri, 17 Apr 1998 20:14:30 -0600

Massimo wrote:

>Most students are taught that all you need is *one* clearly contrary
>evidence to reject a hypothesis (what I call naive falsificationism),
>and that regardless of how many confirmations of a theory you have, you
>still can't prove it.
>The second statement is certainly true, but both these assertions fail
>to recognize a central difference between science and mysticism. Science
>is *not* about truth. It is only about probabilities. Which is by no
>means a small feat! I'd rather know that my conclusions are 90%, 95%, or
>99% accurate, than just make a guess...
>Therefore, the response to your example is this: I would consider the
>preliminary data very interesting. I would go back and keep observing
>the results. The longer the temporal series of correct guesses, the more
>*likely* a paranormal phenomenon becomes. And that's all I will ever be
>able to say (unless I got paranormal powers of my own... ;-)

Precisely! All science can say when faced with no cause-and-effect
descriptions is silence, and the committment to keep looking. This
illustrates the self-limiting nature of the scientific method. What many
of us have been trying to communicate is that science cannot say _anything_
about the possibility of any reality outside of its perview. It is an
enormous leap, not a small step as you believe, to conclude that no reality
exists other than what can be observed by the scientific method. We have
become convinced of a spiritual dimension to reality, you have not.


Keith B. Miller
Department of Geology
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506