How we do know that scientific evidence is a fact?
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21-03-2017, 08:03 AM
RE: How we do know that scientific evidence is a fact?
Religious leaders claim to encourage investigation into their theological claims-- but only so long as you only look at certain types of evidence, from "trusted" sources, and come to the conclusions that are pre-approved by the dogma/doctrine (see the discussion, for instance, on The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, in another thread). If your conclusion does not fit the pre-approved outcome, you are an apostate, and are treated like scum. Those of us who were fundamentalists and went through the process of leaving the faith are all-too-aware of this process.

Scientists, on the other hand, openly encourage people to encompass all information available, to challenge even the most well-established orthodoxy, and to tear down the pronouncements of the most famous scientists who ever lived... if you can show that Einstein or Hawking were mistaken, you're a hero. An absolute hero. Like, we give you The Big Award™ if you do this. You need not be a big name, or even a degreed professional-- all that matters is the data, your methodology, and whether your results are reproducible by others and lead to the same conclusion no matter who runs the test.

Even more importantly, if you can demonstrate that everyone is wrong, the entire community will change their minds, and what you discovered will be tentatively accepted (pending disproof by the next janitor who learned the Calculus in his spare time) by everyone without rancor.

Know of anything like that, in religion? How many times do we have to demonstrate that a flood of the sort described in Genesis would have boiled everyone (and every bacterium) on the planet from the latent heat of condensation and atmospheric pressure change, alone, before they stop printing tickets for The Ark Encounter?

Your friend may not know it, but they have insulted the entire scientific community (and all rational thinkers, everywhere) by even suggesting some sort of equivalence between laypersons accepting the things that have been discovered by professional scientists and the blind faith of the religious person.

Edit to Add: Today's TTA is largely on the process of how the religious push their bad methodologies as equivalent to legitimate scientific inquiry. The first few minutes of the broadcast today is better than I've heard him do in quite a while.




"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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21-03-2017, 08:13 AM
RE: How we do know that scientific evidence is a fact?
PS: I must say I have painted a rather rosy picture in my previous post. There are times when stuff can't be trusted:
  • Scientists are human. Sometimes they make mistakes. That's why we often wait for scientific *consensus* before accepting something as true, rather than just one or two papers.
  • Recently big corporations have started to realise that scientific results have an impact on their bottom line. The worst example that I can think of off-hand is Big Tobacco. But Big Pharma also... basically, when money gets involved sometimes a lot of bogus research gets done, or research that should be done is not done.
  • Science is hard and it's easy to misinterpret statistics. This is something that is frequently exploited by people whose agendas are less than pure. (For example, people who've got a vested interest in proving that cigarettes aren't that bad for you).
  • Also, scientists themselves are subject to biases. For example, journals often don't like to publish negative results, because it's far more fun and profitable to publish a "hey, this looks really interesting" article than a "yeah, we looked at it and it's really not that good" one.

But overall, the process works. Certainly better than any alternative truth finding methods that humanity has tried over the centuries.

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(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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21-03-2017, 08:28 AM
RE: How we do know that scientific evidence is a fact?
(21-03-2017 08:03 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  Scientists, on the other hand, openly encourage people to encompass all information available, to challenge even the most well-established orthodoxy, and to tear down the pronouncements of the most famous scientists who ever lived... if you can show that Einstein or Hawking were mistaken, you're a hero. An absolute hero. Like, we give you The Big Award™ if you do this. You need not be a big name, or even a degreed professional-- all that matters is the data, your methodology, and whether your results are reproducible by others and lead to the same conclusion no matter who runs the test.

And if you did show either of those guys wrong, they'd be the first to shake your hand.

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(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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21-03-2017, 08:40 AM
RE: How we do know that scientific evidence is a fact?
(21-03-2017 08:28 AM)morondog Wrote:  
(21-03-2017 08:03 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  Scientists, on the other hand, openly encourage people to encompass all information available, to challenge even the most well-established orthodoxy, and to tear down the pronouncements of the most famous scientists who ever lived... if you can show that Einstein or Hawking were mistaken, you're a hero. An absolute hero. Like, we give you The Big Award™ if you do this. You need not be a big name, or even a degreed professional-- all that matters is the data, your methodology, and whether your results are reproducible by others and lead to the same conclusion no matter who runs the test.

And if you did show either of those guys wrong, they'd be the first to shake your hand.

Well, metaphorically anyway. If Einstein shook my hand I'd have to rethink a lot of what I believe to be true. I don't know if Hawking can shake hands or not.

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21-03-2017, 08:54 AM
RE: How we do know that scientific evidence is a fact?
(20-03-2017 10:06 PM)Menji Wrote:  [b]"How do you really know that scientific evidence is a fact?
...
I wish some of you could give me some insights about this question.
You've gotten lots of answers here about peer review, reproducibility, and the possibility of performing your own experiments. These are the full answer. But here's a more simple-minded answer that might mean more to your friend:
Technology works.
All our modern technology is based on science, and wouldn't work if those pieces of science were wrong. Your friend's iPhone wouldn't work if quantum theory was not a good description of reality. I presume that even your friend would not claim that the iPhone works because God collects messages and makes them come out of the speaker and draws pictures on the screen for him.
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21-03-2017, 09:05 AM
RE: How we do know that scientific evidence is a fact?
(21-03-2017 08:54 AM)John Derderian Wrote:  
(20-03-2017 10:06 PM)Menji Wrote:  [b]"How do you really know that scientific evidence is a fact?
...
I wish some of you could give me some insights about this question.
You've gotten lots of answers here about peer review, reproducibility, and the possibility of performing your own experiments. These are the full answer. But here's a more simple-minded answer that might mean more to your friend:
Technology works.
All our modern technology is based on science, and wouldn't work if those pieces of science were wrong. Your friend's iPhone wouldn't work if quantum theory was not a good description of reality. I presume that even your friend would not claim that the iPhone works because God collects messages and makes them come out of the speaker and draws pictures on the screen for him.
The above is one of the main "points" I feel.

When a theist says "how do you know its all real?" looking like a right smug fool, just say: "you are aware of the world we live in?" and show them everything from cars/planes/phones/houses/food/pretty much everything that gets manufactured/medicine, (most likely even the clothing they are wearing) is down to something in science.

Non of this stuff works "by magic", and if we all relied on god to provide for us, we'd all be dead.

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21-03-2017, 09:10 AM
RE: How we do know that scientific evidence is a fact?
Accurate predictions can be produced from facts, and these predictions can be reproducible and made by independent observers.

A non-science example:
If I know your favorite pizza topping, I can chalk that up as a fact about you. Meaning that the next time we go eat at a pizza joint, I will make a prediction about what kind of pizza you will order. Knowing the fact about you allows me to make a better and more likely to be correct prediction about what you will eat. There may be some variability in there that will throw me for a loop (the pizza place may not have your favorite topping or they might have a speciality pizza you want to try), but on average I will be correct in my predictions because I know some fact about you beforehand. The variability is interesting to scientists too, because it helps us better understand the interconnectedness of multiple variables.

A science example:
The theory of evolution isn't a fact because scientists say so, nor is the age of the Earth at 4.56 billion years a fact because scientists say so, these are facts because they produce reliable and accurate predictions or are the result of reliable and accurate predictions from scientific facts. The theory of evolution predicted close genetic relationships among taxa that are similar morphologically, and that is what we find every time we look at the genetics. All it would have taken for genetics to prove the theory of evolution wrong would have been to show that morphologically similar organisms are not genetically similar (so chimps would be some random percentage of genetic similarity to humans instead of ~99% genetically similar). For the age of the Earth, we know about radiometric decay and can apply it to multiple isotopic systems. This allows us to make predictions about age based on decay rates, and all it would take to show that the ages calculated from radiometric methods are wrong would be to show that no two methods (two independent isotopic systems) could produce the same age in a material with a predicted age. For instance, if I have 3 ashfall deposits in a rock sequence, I can hypothesize that the oldest is on the bottom and the youngest at the top (and let's say that all three deposits are separated by a few meters of rock between them). So if I start dating the ages of those ash deposits, I can use the U238 and U235 systems on zircons in the ash. If I get ages for all 3 that are randomly distributed, then radiometric dating doesn't work. If I get ages that are out of order and can't be explained as the rocks being overturned, then radiometric dating doesn't work. If I get the youngest or oldest age in the middle and it isn't within error of the over- and underlying ages, radiometric dating doesn't work. But in the history of radiometric dating, we have never encountered a place or time when radiometric dating fails to substantiate our predictions based on the scientific facts of radiometric decay. The closest thing that happens to this is when a geologic event later alters the material being dated. So the zircon crystals being reheated would result in lead-loss, which is the daughter isotope in the U-Th-Pb decay chain. Losing Pb would make the age appear younger than it really is, which is why we do both U235 and U238 at the same time on the same crystal, because we can account for lead loss that way. And we can independently check the thermal history of the rocks to see if they have been buried or otherwise altered to a degree that has raised the temperature enough to cause the zircon crystals to lose their lead.

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21-03-2017, 09:34 AM
RE: How we do know that scientific evidence is a fact?
(21-03-2017 08:54 AM)John Derderian Wrote:  I presume that even your friend would not claim that the iPhone works because God collects messages and makes them come out of the speaker and draws pictures on the screen for him.

I remember telling this believer one time that god didn't want me talking to him about evolution.

"Nah, it's your drivers," he replied. Laugh out load

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21-03-2017, 09:48 AM
RE: How we do know that scientific evidence is a fact?
[Image: quote-in-science-it-often-happens-that-s...286480.jpg]

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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21-03-2017, 09:54 AM (This post was last modified: 22-03-2017 08:40 AM by kim.)
RE: How we do know that scientific evidence is a fact?
(20-03-2017 10:06 PM)Menji Wrote:  "How do you really know that scientific evidence is a fact?"
You don't.
There is no such thing as "fact", at least not with science. There is gathered, measured and compared information which is accumulated to disprove and/or confirm previous information. There is factual information which may alter over time. This is why science is constantly moving forward and improving the understanding of life. Any "fact" or "answer" to life's greatest questions, may forever simply be the stretch of the envelope which science strives to push.

Science advises that it has factual information while continuing to ask more of humanity's great questions.
Religion advises that it has the answers to humanity's great questions while continuing to admonish, there are no more questions.

Yet, humanity continues to ask questions.

Whatever fight religion appears to have with science is it's own undoing. Religion stopped answering questions long ago.

It was curiosity that killed the christian.

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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