Philosophy Science

From the “science is about concise, simple explanations that work” file …

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Shimon Malin explains, Nature Loves to Hide (Oxford University Press, p. 6), why you don’t need science for that:

One role of science is to explain phenomena, anf an explanation is different from “economy of thought.” Consider the example of tides. People made accurate tables of the times of high and low tides in many locations, but the phenomenon of tides was not understood until Newton came along and explained it as the joint effect of the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon on the waters of the oceans. This discovery did not make it possible to calculate the times of high and low tides in specific locations. These depended on many complicated factors such as the contours of the shores, the depth of the oceans at other locations, and so on; the complexity of these factors makes it impossible to calculate the tables of tides on the basis of Newton’s laws. Newton’s discovery did not lead to economy of thougt; the tide tables continued to be produced from the records of local observations. But it did explain the phenomenon of tides.

Note: For measuring devices that work without depending on global theory being right, see the antikythera.

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