Intelligent Design Philosophy Science

Laszlo Bencze on the claim that falsifiability in science is a “myth”

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A myth? What a boon to layabouts in string theory that would be!

Our philosopher and photographer friend Laszlo Bencze kindly writes to point out,

Don’t know about String theory but the multiverse theory is definitely a metaphysical speculation. It is no kind of science and most certainly not a scientific theory for the simple reason that the multiverse is by definition unobservable. All those other supposed universes have no connecting point with our own. We might as well be talking about Valhalla or Hades which are likewise metaphysical suppositions.

“A theory is to be called ‘empirical’ or ‘falsifiable’ if it divides the class of all possible basic statements unambiguously into the following two non-empty subclasses. First, the class of all those with which it is inconsistent (or which it rules out, or prohibits): we call this the class of the potential falsifiers of the theory; and secondly, the class of those basic statements which it does not contradict (or which it ‘permits’). We can put this more briefly by saying: a theory is falsifiable if the class of its potential falsifiers is not empty. —The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Karl Popper, p. 82 – 83 “

Multiverse theory has no falsifiers. It excludes nothing. No potential fact of existence can falsify it. By contrast Relativity has plenty of falsifiers: Something exceeding the speed of light, gravity having no effect on the flow of time, apparent time not slowing down as the speed of light is approached. Any of these will do.

Laszlo, so far as some of us can see, string theory is a phase in science that has gotten over the need for evidence. And the multiverse is the death of evidence.

See also: At Scientific American: Falsifiability in science is a myth. If propositions in science cannot be falsified by evidence, they aren’t propositions in science. They are simply things many scientists believe for a variety of reasons.

and

Falsifiability is overrated, cosmologists say. Many cosmologists don’t like Karl Popper’s concept of falsifiability because it gets in the way of simply assuming that concepts like string theory and the multiverse are correct because, well, because they just must be. Many would like to loosen the concept of falsifiability to allow for such cool but unfalsifiable concepts in science.

8 Replies to “Laszlo Bencze on the claim that falsifiability in science is a “myth”

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    I am not a photographer but it is my understanding that multiverse and string theories are mathematical models which, for their proponents, provide possible answers to certain scientific questions. Yes, they are speculative but “speculative” does not mean the same as “wrong’. Nor is there anything inherently wrong with speculation in science provided it is not presented as being anything more than that. If a speculative model cannot ever be tested against observational data then speculation is all it will ever be. If it can be tested against observation, at least in principle, then it is a candidate theory in science. Remember that Popper urged scientists to be bold in their speculations. They are the source of the new ideas which drive science forward.

  2. 2

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    Seversky: Nor is there anything inherently wrong with speculation in science provided it is not presented as being anything more than that.

    Do you mean something like abiogenesis of life on earth, for instance? Surely that is speculative, is it not? Since it is mere speculation and should “not be presented as anything more than that”, then it stands to reason that there are other possibilities also allowed in the discussion, right? Judging by your words here, there would not be “anything inherently wrong” with that, correct? So, what other ideas are allowed Seversky? Are there any alternatives to abiogenesis of life on earth? Can you point to any alternatives being allowed space for discussion in a typical science review or journal anywhere? Are none others allowed to make their case with empirical evidence? Are there any such examples at all?

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    I have been waiting for an important clarification from you on another thread (regarding abiogenesis) Seversky. I’ll re-post the question here for your convenience.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Sep 5th, 2020

    Seversky: I haven’t dismissed anything in the history of science or the literature or the data.

    UB: So in order to start an open-ended description-based replicator (one that is physically capable of what we generally refer to as Darwinian or biological evolution) you have to be able to specify multiple objects (among alternatives) using a common transcribable medium. This requires an irreducible organization made up of rate-independent memory tokens (symbols) and a set of non-integrable constraints, operating together in a semantically-closed system. The products of this system must successfully specify and produce a very particular dissipative process. The objects in this dissipative process must use the laws of nature to cause the medium to be processed, the products to be produced, and the memory to be copied and be placed inside a separate replicant along with a complete set of constraints. And for that pathway to be successful (i.e. semantically closed) requires a simultaneous coordination between the individual segments of the medium that describe the constraints and the individual segments of the medium that describe the various constituents of the dissipative process (i.e. changing the arrangement of one segment, changes the product of all the other segments). These requirements aren’t merely a mouthful, they are an accurate (and heavily abbreviated) summary of what physics and biology have taught us through logic, prediction, and confirmation via experimental result.

    When you are confronted with these well-documented facts of history and observation, and are given the opportunity to research and discover them for yourself, you immediately jump to say (in your safe, detached, and dull retrospective voice) some variation of the defensive rhetoric: “Well, no one knows how life began”. In other words, you run for the tall grass. You pretend we don’t already know what is physically required of the gene system. You hide from the facts.

    Seversky: The fact is that no one does know how life began. That is not hiding from the facts, that is facing them.

    UB: The elements of this description [above] are carefully recorded in the physics and biology literature, and are based on prediction, logic, measurement, and experimental confirmation. None of the material observations involved here is even controversial. Additionally, the logic is both appropriately sparse and impeccable. You’ll also notice that this is about measurement and description, not about denying or supporting any proposed solution to the origin of the system.

    Are you suggesting here that you now agree with these physical requirements?

  3. 3
    BobRyan says:

    The multiverse, much like Darwin’s belief of speciation, has never been witnessed by anyone. That alone prevents either from being a valid theory. Defenders can call it a fact all they wish, but they never have any facts to back it up. Pointing to adaptation as proof of speciation is no different than pointing to the universe as proof of a multiverse. One does not guarantee another.

  4. 4
    Truthfreedom says:

    1 Seversky

    I am not a photographer but it is my understanding that blah blah blah…

    Neither are you a philosopher nor an intelligent person.
    Were not you the auto-proclaimed meat-robot which says that “people” (or robots) “should not comment out of their own field of expertise”?

  5. 5
    AaronS1978 says:

    @sev
    Now not being facetious here
    You were right speculative doesn’t mean wrong but it also doesn’t mean right either it just means that it’s speculative

    People start to get upset when speculative becomes fact when it’s claimed to be the only game in town as some media friendly scientists will often put

  6. 6
    john_a_designer says:

    In his book, The Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins tried to argue that biology was “the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” Notice that to explain away design he has to concede that there is the appearance or intuition of design. But is it merely just all appearance– just an illusion? How does he know that? Or is it just what he believes?

    Science itself rests on a number of empirically unprovable or metaphysical (philosophical) assumptions. For example:

    That we exist in a real special-temporal world– that the world (the cosmos) is not an illusion and we are not “brains in a vat” in some kind of Matrix like virtual reality.

    That the laws of nature are universal throughout space and time.

    Or that there are really causal connections between things and things or people and things etc. David Hume famously argued that that wasn’t self-evidently true. Indeed, in some cases it isn’t. Sometime there is correlation without causation or “just coincidence.”

    Again, notice the logic Dawkins wants us to accept. He wants us to implicitly accept his premise that that living things only have the appearance of being designed. But how do we know that premise is true? Is it self-evidently true? I think not. Why can’t it be true that living things appear to be designed for a purpose because they really have been designed for a purpose? Is that logically impossible? Metaphysically impossible? Scientifically impossible? If one cannot answer those questions then design cannot be eliminated from consideration or the discussion. Therefore, it is a legitimate inference from the empirical (scientific) evidence.

    I have said this here before, the burden of proof is on those who believe that some mindless, purposeless process can “create” a planned and purposeful (teleological) self-replicating system capable of evolving further though purposeless mindless process (at least until it “creates” something purposeful, because, according to Dawkins, living things appear to be purposeful.) Frankly, this is something our regular interlocutors consistently and persistently fail to do.

    As a theist I do not claim I can prove (at least in an absolute sense) that my world view is true. Can naturalists/ materialists prove that their world view is true? Personally I believe that all worldviews rest on unprovable assumptions. No one can prove that their world view is true. Is that true of naturalism/ materialism? If it can someone with that world view needs to step forward and provide the proof.

    As far as whether or not ID is science, I am skeptical of the claim that Darwinism in the macro-evolutionary sense is science or that SETI is science (what empirical evidence is there that ETI’s exist?) Science, needs to answer the question of how. Just saying “oh somehow” with any airy wave of the hand is not a sufficient explanation. But that applies for people on both sides of the debate.

  7. 7
    Truthfreedom says:

    6 John_a_designer

    Can naturalists/ materialists prove that their world view is true?

    Uhm, no, because “materialism” leads to subjective idealism/ total skepticism. So they can prove nothing at all.

    10 Reasons Why Atheists Are Delusional
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/11-reasons-why-atheists-are-delusional/

  8. 8

    .
    So, Seversky, there is no mistake here.

    This is not an instance where you didn’t see a post or hadn’t had time to respond. You are on and ID blog actually running from recorded science and history. Plain and simple.

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