Unformatted text preview: Experimenter's Regress
201 What is Experimenter's Regress?
The Experimenter's Regress is a form of Catch 22 at the heart of scientific practice. It applies in controversies where the correct outcome of an experiment is in dispute. e.g. the search for cold fusion The search for free quarks Vitamin C as a cure for cancer The Experimenter's Regress
Q: How do we know the correct outcome in the case of cold fusion? A: To find out we must do a cold fusion experiment. Q: How do we know if our cold fusion experiment has been carried out competently? A: It depends on what the correct outcome is. Q: How do we know what the correct outcome is? A: To find out we must do an experiment. And so on.... The Experimenter's Regress in practice does not last forever The Regress is closed Ways the Regress can be closed amongst the group of scientists at the research frontiers: By theory By rhetoric By funding being denied By mathematical proof By some other measure of an experimenter's competence - e.g. persona, or reputation By the production of a working technology By some combination of the above Q: Does the Experimenter's Regress Apply to Technology? ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/01/2008 for the course S&TS 2011 taught by Professor Pinch,t. during the Spring '06 term at Cornell.
- Spring '06