Re: [asa] Objective vs. Subjective (and the Green Rules)

From: Don Winterstein <>
Date: Wed Jan 14 2009 - 17:26:13 EST

George: "I would like to think that for scientific objectivity we could limit it to being within the framework of measurements only."

I suggested earlier that "science deals exclusively with aspects of the world that can be treated quantitatively." While "quantitatively" would need to be broadly interpreted to include all manner of statistical studies as in social sciences, this statement may offer a way of distinguishing science from non-science. Of course, the statement's converse would not be true.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: George Cooper<>
  To: ASA<>
  Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2009 7:28 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Objective vs. Subjective (and the Green Rules)

  Hi Don,

  DW: All statements are both subjective and objective. Some statements are more subjective than others. There's likely a continuum between the most subjective and the most objective. But good scientific theories lie at the objective end of this spectrum.

  A statement becomes an object the instant it is made. That's why all statements are objective: they can be analyzed for information concerning the persons making them.

  I would like to think that for scientific objectivity we could limit it to being within the framework of measurements only. Is our objectivity not only universal (public) but also quantifiable in specific terms that can be used with mathematical processing. The results of the processing being measurability of the predictions that percolate to the surface. This gives not only greater concreteness to the foundation of the subjective claims that build upon this foundation but serve to further strengthen the foundation with any positive feedback the flows from the predictions themselves, or weakens the foundation from any negative feedback.

  There is a qualitative difference in the subjective view that comes from science but it is still within a continuum as you say. What must be recognized, however, is the objective foundation itself and how it does or does not support the framework one builds upon it. Thus, multiverse theories, or how science disproves God, etc., may present an illusion of science but if they don't have the objective evidence and they don't build directly upon the evidence, then it would not be science.

  At the subjective end of this statement spectrum lie exclamations that emerge spontaneously from someone's private world, such as, "This sunset is beautiful." The closer a statement is to being "untainted" by anything outside one's private world, the more subjective it is.

  Agreed, but I wonder if another way to say this is to show lack of measurability by those on the outside.

  At the objective end of this spectrum lie statements based on careful measurements of objects or phenomena by many different competent investigators all of whose measurements agree within error limits.


  In between would lie statements based both on private feelings and on some volume of information from the public world. --Informed but biased opinions.

  I see what you're saying, though "feelings" may complicate the process that derives the subjective claim since feelings can go with or against a particular view. Opinons of faith, for instance, can override feelings in making a given subjective claim.

  When many scientists with competing objectives agree on the suitability of a scientific theory, the theory takes on a status of objectivity close to that of the facts it accounts for. It's statements then become objective, or "truth as we understand it."

  Yes, the more the objective elements of the foundational basis, as well as, the objective elements within the testeable and predictable claims present an accurate fit, the more we approach the objective end of the spectrum, yet some subjectivity remains.

  Thanks Don for your thoughts on this.


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Received on Wed Jan 14 17:28:56 2009

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