The court case example is a good one, and well argued if I may say so, but it also illustrates some other things.Disembodied wrote:Hmmm ... imagine a court case, where I'm accused of piracy...
What's believable is not necessarily what's true. Furthermore, preconceptions or expectations can easily lead to a narrowing of perception.
Sadly, courts are places of lies as well as truths; perhaps especially of the sort that ClymAngus mentions:
I suspect there are a great many people who would appear to have "impeccable character" judging by their actions in public and yet their actions in private may suggest otherwise (er, I'll avoid the recent, real life examples if I may...) Likewise a peccable character does not neccesarily equate to every word spoken being untrue.ClymAngus wrote:What I'm saying is, people con themselves all the time, "I'll be alright", "It doesn't matter", "That didn't hurt", "he/she still loves me" Etc etc etc.
Of course, scientific method addresses this with elements like 'controls' and verifications by repitition etc. but I'm not convinced that it solves them.
(Assuming for a moment that the "battling demons" claim needed to be proven as such in order to validate the claim that those doing so were too busy to be involved in the "piracy"...)
It would certainly be a much more surprising defence, and probably be more difficult to support (perhaps "probably" doesn't belong in that sentence ). However, despite its shakiness, it need not provide evidence in order to be true. To convince or persuade, yes, evidence is helpful and so we build our science on it and so to the heart of it...
I'd agree with that for the most part. Science is a tool, a very uselful one but it's built on a particular paradigm. Even ignoring (for the moment) the fallabilities of human perception, understanding and lack of neutrality, uncertainty looms large. And so to statistical analysis which gives us a probability that something is true (again, ignoring human failings, or at least not accurately recording or measuring them convincingly). Ninety something percent sounds good, so we'll tick that box and move on. 100% certainty is unobtainable (at least in any practical sense) and arguably that's one of the most important lessons that science teaches us. What tests science? The best we have is science itself, something that is built on a particular set of assumptions.Disembodied wrote:Science isn't universally applicable: it is only capable of dealing with the quantifiable and the falsifiable. The universe doubtless contains many unquantifiable and unverifiable things, and no system of formal logic can prove all true statements and disprove all false ones. But if something isn't quantifiable and falsifiable, then it's not science, and there's little point in expecting scientists to work on it.
Is that to be interpreted as, 'we can't trust anything, so what's the point?', I would argue no. Without scientific endeavour and 'progress', we wouldn't have this game (and many of us may not be around to play it). Science appears to have served us well (whether or not we've abused it is a different matter).I know that I know nothing.
Rather it is something to remember and to temper our preconceptions with.
Science attempts to discover truth. The virtues of its goal, though noble, do not match the virtues of its quarry.
That extraorinary claims should requiring extraordinary evidence may be true if you are to be convinced of them but it is in not necessary for them to be true; and that, I think, is easilly forgotten.
Besides which, being convinced of something doesn't strike me as very scientific.