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TSE  December 2003

TSE December 2003

Subject:

Re: Poets on poetry

From:

Tom Gray <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Sun, 7 Dec 2003 08:14:04 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (76 lines)

--- Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I'm curious how you see your verifiable realities in
> relation to what my
> scientific
> friends require of their theories, which is that
> theories to be valid, must
> be
> falsifiable.

 The vast majority of working scientists know that if
their work falsifies a major scientific belief then
they will be regarded as cranks or worse. They will
lose whatever funding they have and if an academic
they will lose any chance of tenure. The vast majority
of working scientists work to fill out the
implications of the current version of scientific
truth. They have little chance to falsify anything let
alone base their theories on that necessity.

The connection between working scientists and Prufrock
is clear. They are attendant lords who labour at the
periphery and whose efforts and theories will not
survive their lifetime.

Popper developed the concept of falsification in
reaction to the verification ideas put forth by
Carnap. However Popper vision of falsification was a
means of verification. He stated many times in his
books that the goal of science was to create a true
account of the world. Therefore falsification is about
the creation of verifiable ideas.

As others have said in this thread this idea of
science using falsification or some other method to
create a true account of the world is not universally
agreed to. Recall the great controversy of ten or so
years ago about the contraction of the Superconducting
Super-Collider. This was a device that was proposed to
confirm the existence of the top quark and perhaps the
Higgs boson. Particle physicists spoke of the great
benefits that this would bring to science. Other
physicists and most other scientists were skeptical
that the testing of this theory would be worth the ten
billion dollars that would be needed to build the
facility. The existence or non-existence top quark and
the Higgs boson would not change anything of
importance in the science used by biologists, solid
state physicists or really anyone else.

 Most scientists have a  model of the basis of physics
 that is entirely adeqyuate to their needs. Whether or
not this model is a verified model of the world is
beside the point. It produces predictions accurate
enough for their needs. It cannot be falsified in a
way that would make any difference.

 Indeed current work in physics and cosmology seems to
indicate that the basic constants of physics are
merely chance and arbitrary setting that are only
valid in our local region of space. These constants
were arbitrarily set in local region of space at the
time of the big bang. Cosmological inflation has taken
parts of the universe with other values for these
constants far beyond any possibility of interaction
with our region of space.

The connection between scientific 'truth' and myth as
tools that provide useful meaning to the world is much
closer than many people give credit.


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