Re: [asa] on science and meta-science

From: Merv Bitikofer <>
Date: Tue Nov 10 2009 - 07:40:25 EST

Gregory Arago wrote:
> Hi Merv,
> In brief, do you agree with the statement by Keith: "science is a
> methodology"?
I agree with you that there is no one 'scientific method'. But I'm not
sure Keith would disagree with that, since I would guess his statement
as you quote it above might have been intended in some wider context or
with other nuances. I'll let Keith finesse that out for himself when he
has time to return to the list. I also think some activities can be
fairly judged to be 'non-scientific' (e.g. interviewing a lot of people
to find out whether they think aliens exist & trying to use that as a
basis for conclusion, or declaring that the life of Martin Luther King
Jr. has a certain historical significance based on his effect on the
civil rights movement...) Some of those may be legitimate and
interesting and even quite correct activities, but I don't think that
makes them 'scientific'. And we could probably agree that other things,
while 'scientific' might be poor science (or a poor application of *a*
legitimate scientific methodology. (e.g. failing to control multiple
variables while investigating one variable in particular.) Wouldn't you
agree that whatever body of methodologies there are for science, that
this doesn't just throw the doors wide for everything to be considered
science? If it did then the distinction implied by the word 'science'
becomes meaningless and the word might as well be dropped from our language.

> I don't because I *know* that there are many 'scientific methods' and
> that 'science' means different things to different people, to
> different scientists. Please don't call me a 'relativist' or 'social
> constructionist' for saying this.

I'll refrain from name-calling ---and wasn't even thinking of you as any
of these things anyway! :->
Regarding paragraphs below, I have not read either author you mention
but am interested in doing so. I intend to look them up, although not
this week. And thank you for the links you sent separately --I'll have
to have go there as well, though not right at this moment. I have no
problems accepting the social sciences as legitimate, if that continues
to be one of the burrs in your saddle. I am in no position to judge them
---but those of you who are, I'm sure do have legitimate criteria for
evaluating the merits and legitimacy of each other's work. And in doing
so, I would say you are exercising judgment that some methodologies are
better than others, and you probably have some methodology in doing
that. Gotta go for now.

With much respect for your expertise,

> Have you read Feyerabend and Lakatos, Merv? If not, go do the work as
> I and others have done. I'm not going to explain, as you ask for, "the
> view of science that *is* current with PoS." This is precisely one of
> the points: there is *no* such thing as 'the view of science'! So how
> could I give it (singular) to you? :-)
> Some people on this list need to say this out loud and repeat:
> Sciences - many, not One!
> Does that help at all, Merv?
> With due respect given, but impatiently,
> Gregory
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *From:* Merv Bitikofer <>
> *To:* Gregory Arago <>; asa <>
> *Sent:* Tue, November 10, 2009 5:04:41 AM
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] on science and meta-science
> Gregory Arago wrote:
> >
> > Keith writes: “Science is a methodology, a limited way of knowing
> about the natural world.”
> >
> > No, this is wrong, plain and simple. I side with Cameron; Keith’s
> view of science is not current with PoS if he really believes this.
> Science is limited, yes, of course it is and Cameron is not arguing
> with this and thus is frustrated at why Keith repeats and repeats this
> obvious statement to him. But science is *not* (ECHO THIS) simply a
> methodology! This is too simple. Here Keith is missing a larger
> discourse and I am at a loss of how to convey it to him (e.g. really
> read more PoS?).
> >
> > Does simply being a ‘natural scientist’ *necessarily* make one a
> ‘naturalist’ or *require* that he or she accept the ideology called
> ‘naturalism’ as the core guideline/strategy/method for ‘doing good
> science’? I would say ‘No.’ But who that is an NPS here would say
> otherwise? I’m afraid that a good many people have been led down the
> primrose path on this one and should instead come back to ‘reality’
> with the rest of us.
> >
> Gregory! Out of this tempest of invective against all things TE or MN,
> I am still curious about a few things because I do really want to
> understand your position. You say Keith's view of science is not
> current with PoS. So what is the view of science that *is* current
> with PoS?
> --Merv

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Received on Tue Nov 10 07:41:11 2009

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