Re: Pasteur quote

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Sat Dec 29 2001 - 10:19:00 EST

  • Next message: John W Burgeson: "Re: Pasteur quote"

    From: Walter Hicks <>

    Howard J. Van Till wrote: .
    Natural science is a disciplined and systematic human activity that includes
    observation, measurement, experimentation, theory formulation and theory
    evaluation. Activity in any one of these categories is likely to stimulate
    fruitful action in the others. The goal of the natural sciences is to
    understand what our physical universe is like, how it functions, and how it
    got to be the way it now is. To that end the sciences seek to craft theories
    that give an adequate/satisfying account of what can be observed
    (qualitative) and measured (quantitative) in our world.

    Given this concept of the natural sciences, the formulation and evaluation
    of the Grand Evolutionary Theory on the basis of what can now be observed
    and/or measured falls well within the scientific domain.

    > I believe that Pasteur and Thompson were attempting to say that a valid
    > theory should be both quantitative and predictive in nature. If not, then
    > it just is not good science.

    Fair enough. The theory evaluation criteria (for what constitutes an
    adequate/satisfying theory) now in effect include such epistemic values as
    "predictive accuracy" (which covers both qualitative and quantitative
    predictions, as well as retrodiction). On that basis alchemy and astrology
    would not fare well.

    > Insofar as the "grand evolutionary theory" goes. I did a phrase search
    > using Google and came up with only ONE hit on the web
    > ($552) . For "unified field
    > theory" I got 12,700. Both of these theories share something in common in
    > that neither of them exist yet. Both are pie in the sky notions that
    > science might some day realize. (IMHO)

    Rather than tagging them with the "pie in the sky" label I would be more
    inclined to compare them with partially assembled jig-saw puzzles -- lots of
    areas open or with only a few pieces in place, with little idea what the
    details will be like in those regions; but the regions that are assembled do
    provide a basis for proposing what the broad features of the completed
    puzzle may eventually look like. Some interesting surprises are likely in
    any case.

    Howard Van Till

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