Re: definition of science

From: Terry M. Gray <>
Date: Sun Apr 24 2005 - 01:43:26 EDT

Not to nit-pick but I think we want to be saying that we "test
hypotheses about the past" not that we "test the past". I think that
is what Keith said originally...that we test...explanations. Such
tests are done with old and new observations. Experiments are
contrived situations that lead to additional observations, but they
are, fundamentally, observations of the natural (created) world
(physical world, Keith's phrase here, seems a bit limiting).


>The key to Keith's response is "testing " and not experiment. The
>two are not the same. You can test the past but not experiment on it.
>The misconception that science is by definition empirical and
>experimental plagues much understanding of what science is. YECs and
>IDers as in the OHIO group , who tried to wreck science teaching a
>year or two ago, try to argue that historical science is
>non-experimental and thus a faith position. Sadly too many ASAers
>share the confusion.
>----- Original Message ----- From: "Keith Miller" <>
>To: <>
>Sent: Sunday, April 24, 2005 3:10 AM
>Subject: Re: definition of science
>>Robert Schneider wrote:
>>>Having enjoyed Michael's ironic elimination of geology and
>>>evolutionary biology from "true science," I should like you to
>>>follow up with an elaboration of your definition of science,
>>>below. Since you are a geologist yourself, how do you integrate
>>>the historical sciences into your definition of "science"?
>>>Bob Schneider
>>My definition is below:
>>"Science is the human endeavor to understand how the physical
>>universe works by constructing testable cause-and-effect natural
>>explanations of events and processes based on observations of the
>>physical world."
>>This describes geological science as well as chemistry. As I have
>>argued several times on this forum and elsewhere, hypotheses in the
>>historical sciences are fully testable. What I do as a geologist
>>is continual hypothesis testing. Every new observation is a test
>>of expectations based on previous observations and theoretical
>>understanding. Hypothesis are accepted, modified or rejected based
>>on new observations (equivalent to new experimental trials).
>>Keith B. Miller
>>Research Assistant Professor
>>Dept of Geology, Kansas State University
>>Manhattan, KS 66506-3201

Terry M. Gray, Ph.D., Computer Support Scientist
Chemistry Department, Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado  80523
phone: 970-491-7003 fax: 970-491-1801
Received on Sun Apr 24 01:44:52 2005

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