314Lecture5-FalsificationPopperOnline

314Lecture5-FalsificationPopperOnline -...

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Lecture Five: Falsification Pseudo-science The reason we seek a theory of scientific method is to determine if (a) scientific knowledge is justified,  and (b) what the limit of scientific knowledge is.  This helps us to interpret results of scientific research  pragmatically.  Also, it helps us decide whether or not a specific discipline or theory is appropriately  regarded as scientific.   For example, some people who believe in the biblical account of creation call this doctrine ‘creation  science.’  The basic argument is that since the biblical account of creation is a scientific theory, it  ought to be included in the science curriculum of public schools.  There is considerable disagreement  on this point, so we need an account of the nature of science, especially given its legal, political, and  religious ramifications.  The question becomes: is creation science a science, bad science, or no  science at all?   There are many example of pseudoscience, a practice that claims to be or appears to be scientific but  does not employ scientific method or lacks scientific status ( pseudo  = false, pretending,  scientia  =  knowledge).  For instance, phrenology is widely regarded as pseudoscience.  A phrenologist  ascertains and predicts traits of the personality by examining bumps on the head.  Other examples of  pseudoscience are: astrology, homeopathy, acupuncture, and parapsychology.  There is much  disagreement about the scientific nature of these practices or disciplines.  Therefore knowing whether  or not a practice is actually scientific is significant since our everyday decisions are based on whether  we think the claims are scientific (justified) or not. In this section we are going to consider an alternative theory of scientific method.  Karl Popper was  an influential Austrian/British philosopher in the 20 th  century.  In developing his theory of falsification,  he noted the difference between the theories in physics and the theories in psychology and sociology.  He concluded that part of the reason why people tended to mistake pseudoscience for science was  that they had an erroneous view of physics.   Marx and Freud Popper focused his attention on the problem of demarcation (drawing the line between science and  pseudo-science) by examining the social sciences.  At around this period of intellectual history  (known as the ‘age of enlightenment’) there was great optimism regarding the advancement of the  natural sciences: physics, chemistry and physiology.   1
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Lecture Five: Falsification
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