RE: [asa] What causes students to move from faith?

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Tue Sep 12 2006 - 11:19:59 EDT

Let me take another crack at it. The laws of experimental science are
generalizations of historical propositions. For that to be the case, we
must be able to reproduce precise initial conditions so that the
outcomes of experiments are as similar as possible so that we can
generalize and thus infer the existing laws that govern Nature. The
latter is the inductive essence of experimental sciences.

However, when one deals with unique events, viz. questions of origins,
one can make certain suppositions and see if the extant data
substantiates that supposition. This is precisely the basis of solving
crimes and using forensic data in the light of the results of
experimental sciences. As in crimes, the only thing one can use is the
circumstantial evidence and the ability to convince a jury beyond a
reasonable doubt of who did commit the crime. Therefore, there is some
element of deductive, as is the case in cosmology, paleontology, etc.,
rather than pure inductive as is the case in the experimental sciences.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of
Sent: Monday, September 11, 2006 7:37 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] What causes students to move from faith?

Moorad wrote:

> According to your views, one ought to dispense altogether of the
> notion
> of historical sciences and refer to all as experimental science.
> Therefore, experimental science tells us definitely that O.J. Simpson
> did it and history has nothing to say about it.

I recall reading in Science about 1 year ago, some statistics
and analysis on how well forensic science works in court
prosecution. There actually was a significant number of
false positives. However, the analysis attributed this more
to (1) lack of training of the individuals (I recall them saying
that many do not even possess a Bachelor's degree), (2) the
ethos within the judicial system where, for example, the
prosecution is looking for their man in person X, and are
determined to find him there. So failures are more attributed
to ignorance, lack of adequate training, politics, and inadequate
critical analysis, not failure of the techniques themselves.

In making the distinction between chemistry or physics with
history, we should respect history as a "hard to do" science.

But it's not like a whole group of experimental scientists can never
be wrong either. Consensus is only a helpful guide, but usually

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Received on Tue Sep 12 12:03:44 2006

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