The Scientific Method ( and how it is supposed to work )

Most people seem to think that if an “expert” or “authority” says something, or if a paper is written about it, then in must be true, but this is not how science works. Here’s a quick and simple explanation of the truth about science ( for the lay person & those who claim to understand it but don’t ).

Hypothesis:

Firstly, you come up with an idea which you’re trying to prove, this is called your hypothesis. Your job is to figure out what would be required to demonstrate its truth. You must perform experiments, do research, gather data, then try to connect the dots between already established facts, in order to demonstrate that your conclusion is the correct one. This is a lot harder than you might think, and very few people achieve it.

Thesis:

The paper you write about your hypothesis is your thesis. It is just a paper, it is only a paper, and even publication of it does not constitute the establishment of a new fact.

Replication Studies:

Where possible, it is good to get others to repeat your experiment to see if they can get the same results, which is difficult because there is often no money on offer to do replication studies, and there’s also rarely anything in the way of academic kudos or other incentives.

So while replication studies are good, they often never get done, but even if they are done, and even if a replication study gets the same results, this is still not evidence of the correctness of your hypothesis, as what they have only shown is that your data is most likely or definitely correct, but they have not shown that your conclusions resulting from the data produced are correct.

So a replication study can only really find error in your methods and the data you produce, it cannot find an error in your conclusions EXCEPT by way of showing that your methods or data were incorrect or somehow flawed.

Peer Review:

Peer review also often rarely gets done, and as discussed by many whom have assessed problems such as corruption and fraud in science, the problem is so bad for researchers whom are under professional and economic pressure to get published, that they will ghost write their own peer review then hand it to someone else to sign off.

But even where peer review is done properly, once again, it doesn’t mean your paper is a conclusive proof of anything, it only means they couldn’t find error, and the goal here is far higher, which is to prove that no error CAN exist. So the value of peer review is really to help the author in terms of rewriting the paper, in the attempt to cover any remaining holes in the thesis.

Publication:

Publication does not establish fact, it only means that certain academic and scientific journals consider your paper to be worthy of publication, but that’s it, nothing more.

The Establishment of Fact:

A fact can only be established when it can be shown that all other conclusions are or must be false, because the evidence leads in only one direction, or because all other directions have been shown to be false.

Now think about that for a minute: in order to show that all other possibilities must be false, you must have either selected an extremely tightly focused subject for your research, such that you’re only incrementally establishing a very tiny gain in terms of known fact, and which is therefore relatively easy ( or easier ) to prove, than a giant leap; or you must rely on all such tiny subjects to have been individually proven by other papers such that you can knit them all together to establish a higher order derived fact; or you must have done a gigantic lifelong research assignment such as to prove all the tiny facts required to prove your larger fact.

Summary:

So next time you’re involved in or watching a debate about a particular topic and someone says “cite a paper or it’s not true”, understand that such people are idiots and they do not understand science nor fact itself, because the lack of a paper doesn’t establish falsehood any more than the existence of a paper and it’s publication established a fact.

The only thing that establishes a fact is an unassailable argument which leads to a definitive conclusion based on logic evidence and reasoning, for which there is no valid counter argument, and this DOESN’T require a research paper, it’s just handy when one exists, but they are rare.

With so much fraud in science, you cannot rely on papers, which is not to say don’t read them, but if you don’t understand enough about argument ( logic evidence plus reasoning equals conclusion ), and the axioms and established facts used to support this argument, along with the mathematics and science required to understand the argument and it’s evidence, then there’s very little point in citing a paper anyway, as you haven’t established anything at all.

On THINKING

It’s interesting when I meet random people over coffee at a cafe, strike up a conversation about a mutual point of agreement, but then the conversation strays into territory where it’s obvious they’re out of their depth, and yet still hold fervent beliefs despite their clear lack of ever having really contemplated the issues with any great depth beyond that which they were raised to believe — and which seems sensible to them, because it is a narrative told, usually when they were young, by those they trust ( parents, friends, relatives etc. ). Continue reading “On THINKING”

Update re books

Back at university, so for anyone waiting to read book 1, at this stage it looks unlikely that I’ll have it ready for publishing by year’s end 2019 ( apologies ) … so it looks like 2020 instead.

Would you vote for the following …

I have been seeing a lot of electoral campaigning issues given that Australia has a federal election coming up, and to be honest with you, I’m utterly fed up with how disingenuous and gutless all our politicians — or at least the vast majority of them — seem to be … so I decided to write an article explaining a hypothetical policy platform, to see how many people would read, share, and like it on social media; given also that I know what my blog has received in readership in the past, so it should be reasonably easy to tell if this does stunningly or unusually well compared to other past posts.

If it doesn’t strike a chord with people, then I may revert to my other plan of retiring to the countryside, or trying to find a way off this planet.

Continue reading “Would you vote for the following …”