Marx (Karl, not Groucho) predicted that under capitalism workers were bound to become more and more dissatisfied and therefore a workers’ revolution was inevitable. When workers’ conditions actually improved under capitalism, Lenin modified the theory — of course the workers’ lot is improving; the capitalists are bribing them to keep them pacified, just what the theory predicted would happen.
In Edge, Behe talks about Ernst Mayr’s 1960’s prediction that on Darwinian grounds the search for homologous genes would be quite futile. Now Darwinists use homologous genes as evidence for the theory; after all the existence of such genes was predicted by the theory (after the fact).
What can you say about a theory that can just as easily predict “X” and the opposite of “X”?
I commend to our readers sections 19 and 20 of Popper’s Logic of Scientific Discovery, in which he discusses “conventionalist stratagems” to rescue a theory from falsification. Popper writes, “Whenever the ‘classical’ system of the day is threatened by the results of new experiments which might be interpreted as falsifications . . . the system will appear unshaken to the conventionalist.” Popper goes on to explain the stratagems the conventionalist will use to deal with the inconsistencies that have arisen between the predictions of the theory and the results of experiments:
1. Blame our inadequate mastery of the system.
2. Suggest the ad hoc adoption of auxiliary hypotheses.
3. Suggest corrections to measuring instruments.
4. Modify definitions used in the theory.
5. Adopt a skeptical attitude of the observer whose observations threaten the system by excluding his observations from science because (a) they are insufficiently supported; (b) they are unscientific; (c) they are not objective.
6. Call the experimenter a liar.
Today’s class assignment: How many of Popper’s “conventionalist stratagems” have been used against Behe’s Edge. Extra credit for concrete examples.