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How are scientific theories produced


Effie
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DH,

 

I don't think I have ever said that we should mechanize the process. I never said and I never meant that.

 

All I have been saying since the beginning is that somehow we produce theories. Can we describe even one of those ways?? In other words, can we transform our empirical, unconscious knowledge into scientific, conscious knowledge?

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Here are some not so well edited associative comments os it gets philosophical, and I'm not sure wether this thread is in the right section but anyway. But given your past posts I see a good chance of conveying the message, this motivates this scrambled post. I am betting on your error correction on this one :cool:

 

Today there are sciences which remain religiously stuck to their basic principles, even if they have been superseded by research data. Molecular biology and psychiatry are the most apparent examples. Of course, research is objective and produces valid data, which unfortunately cannot be utilized.

 

Can you elaborate on this in the context of molecular biology? I didn't suggest that current methods are perfect, I only said they are much better than they used to be :) But few things are so good that they can't get better.

 

According to Kuhn, scientists- due to the way in which they are educated- learn to serve the prevailing paradigm of their science.

...

Once in the box, it is very hard to succeed in thinking outside box, for many reasons which we could discuss about.

 

This makes sense to me and I see your point. However I think this very phenomenon is also what is responsible for stability. We need stability too.

 

The current paradigm (whatever it is), is here for a reasons: it has evolved because it was successfull. If this was not so, it would beg the question how come such an improbable paradigm evolved. This means that any confidence in contradictory suggestions must be leveled against our confidence in the current paradigm. This phenomenon of conservatism is to me, analogous to the concept of inertia. But this arguments for the soundness of conservatism must not be confused with the universal correctness of the current paradigm.

 

Anyone subject to that confusion is subject to the problem you describe. This is the same as to mistake the theories that has been corroborated for the last 100 years are obviously representing the truth.

However, the next complicaiton IMHO, is that sometimes such a confusion is actually rational! Because you can never "maintain" sceptism on all points, because this consumes resources. One effect of the intrinsic view I argue for, is exactly a kind of truncation, where there for each obeserver is a probability cuttoff, where something that is simple sufficiently improbable to happen, is assumed to never happen! And this is rational given the constraints.

 

The point here is not to confuse rational decisions with "correct decisions", as measured relative to future outcomes.

The point of observation is just that, this system ACTS/BEHAVES, AS IF certain risks are ZERO. THIS is the point. And this happens regardless of wether it's true or not! This is my point.

 

This is related to game theory thinking of that makes it easier.

Again this is a simplificaition, I'm sure someone will point out that there is no universal measure of rational action either and this is right. But I acknowledge this problem too, but I ignore that here.

 

From my point of analysis, the point is not which paradigm is "right" or representing absolute truth, because I have no reason to think that such universal measures of truth will be found. Instead my focus is that of the dynamics of opinion independently of the notion of truth. Then it seems to be that it's a basic observation that dynamics of opinon always relates to a prior structure or paradigm. This is so because I think it's the most rational way it can be. But again, what's rational isn't always true. These are two different questions IMO. what's true in an universal sense, is not something that interests me.

 

I think that the systems reaction to it's environment, is more dependent on what information is fed to the system, and probably not at all on wether whatever is fed into it, is "right" or "true" from the point of view of another system. I think this complexity, is part pf what is responsible for interactions in general.

 

This is seen also in human interactions. Alot of human conflicts are simply a result of different people having different opinion on what is right and wrong. The logic we de facto see is that each human fights for what she thinks is right. All of them act conservatively to preserve "their truth".

 

Usually the asymptotic result is a compromise, like all equilibration processes. A new truth is formed, to which all participants can agree. They both realise that this is the most constructuve outcome to both of them, since it is not possible two maintain a stable inconsistency. Inconsistencies, as in differing opinon always leads to interaction.

 

I use human interactions here to create a mental image, but what I have in mind is physical systems. The abstraction translates. The supposed idea here is that this very abstraction, results in a MUTUAL selection, that results in formation of stable systems of probable preference.

 

Some wild hopes (in the future extnesion of this reasoning) would be to explain the emergence of structure of the standard model of particle physics. Things like things + other things are my motivation for this. But also, there are implications beyond physics. World economy, war and peace and other human level phenomena that most probably have large common denominators to this abstraction. This measn that reasearching this direction is not limited to only what goes on inside particle accelerators. One one needs to see the analogies and it have many more hand on applications.

 

I would like to learn more about this approach

 

I'll respond more later, but this is very non-mainstream. It's my personal quest, that's in progress. But I can dig up a set of papers written by others, whose common denominator are a good first glimpse of my choice of reasoning. more later ..Some of the ideas are implied above though.

 

/Fredrik

 

I'll respond more later, but this is very non-mainstream. It's my personal quest, that's in progress. But I can dig up a set of papers written by others, whose common denominator are a good first glimpse of my choice of reasoning. more later ..Some of the ideas are implied above though.

 

Some ideas of others that IMHO are worth mentioning. None of these are

exactly what I am looking for! but all of them have something in common,

that I consider important. I have pointed out the main point i like in

there reasoning, to illustrate the point, and a short comment what I don't like.

 

(1) Olaf Dreyer has an own idea he calls "internal relativity". It may sound like a lame name, but some of they core keys are very close to some of my starting points as well.

 

Here are some of this work

"Why things fall"

-- http://arxiv.org/abs/0710.4350

 

The main key point, of his reasoning, that I like is this:

 

"We have termed our program Internal Relativity to stress the importance of looking at the system from the point of view of an internal observer"

 

It might not be clear from such a simple statement the meaning of it, but it has consequences... some quotes from his paper

 

"We claim that the internal point of view has not been taken far enough. If one strictly adheres to it, one finds not only special relativity but also general relativity. This is the central novelty of Internal Relativity"

 

"In our view, matter and geometry have a more dual role. One can not have one without the other. Both emerge from the fundamental theory simultaneously"

 

I mainly find a first impression that his reasoning is not taken far enough. He is too focused on spacetime.

 

(2) Ariel Caticha, following a tradition similar to (E.T Jaynes, the author of Probability theory - the logic of science; http://omega.math.albany.edu:8008/JaynesBook.html). Ariels method is somewhat along Max Ent methods, and his idea is that GR (Einsteins Equation) should be an implication from the rules of inductive inference, as an kind of information geometry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_geometry).

 

The main key point, of his reasoning, that I like is this:

 

Taken directly his his webpage:

 

"My recent work explores whether the laws of physics might be derivable from principles of inductive reasoning. These principles - consistency, objectivity, universality and honesty - are sufficiently constraining that they lead to a unique set of rules for processing information: these are the rules of probability theory and the method of maximum relative entropy."

-- http://www.albany.edu/physics/ariel_caticha.htm

 

As I see it, I think ariel misses some of the points of the "intrinsic point", that kills universality. But his basic direction is to my liking.

 

(3) Carlo Rovelli, which works mainly on LQG, is not really representing my opinons, but he his paper on Relational Quantum Mechanics contains in the early part an excellent reasoning, but unfortunately he develops in a direction that looses me. but it's worth reading.

 

"Relational Quantum Mechanics"

-- http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/9609002

 

The main key point, of his reasoning, that I like is this:

 

"The notion rejected here is the notion of absolute, or observer-indepdent state of the system; equivalently, the notion of observer-independent values of physical quantities"

 

"First of all, one may ask what is the “actual”, “absolute” relation between the description of the world relative to O and the one relative to P. This is a question debated in the context of “perspectival” interpretations of quantum mechanics. I think that the question is ill-posed. The absolute state of affairs of the world is a meaningless notion; asking about the absolute relation between two descriptions is precisely asking about such an absolute state of affairs of the world. Therefore there is no meaning in the “absolute” relation between the views of different observers. In particular, there is no way of deducing the view of one from the view of the other.

 

"Does this mean that there is no relation whatsoever between views of different observers? Certainly not..."

 

"There is an important physical reason behind this fact: It is possible to compare different views, but the process of comparison is always a physical interaction"

 

"Suppose a physical quantity q has value with respect to you, as well as with respect to me. Can we compare these values? Yes we can, by communicating among us."

 

The point where he looses me is his treatment of probability theory. He explicitly avoids discussing what he calls "the meaning of probability". This is a mistake IMO. But the early part of his reasoning is outstanding IMHO.

 

I have a few design principles behind my personal thinking

 

- to emphasise the importance of the intrinsic vs extrinsic views.

 

- the rationality is different in the two views

 

- there is an intrinsic rational action

 

- different views can be compart only in one way - physical interaction, there exists no other means for universal measures.

 

- the intrinsic view is connected to an obeserver. And I take Zurek's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wojciech_H._Zurek) notion to heart - "what the observer is, is indistinguishable from what the observer is", I think that is an most excellent scentence!

 

- and most important, ALL of the above must fin in one particular intrinsic view, namely the theorist, which is a part of universe, and has finite resources.

 

One objection I have is the use of the continuum probability as an abstraction for degree of belief that E.T Jaynes introduces in his book. This is not an innocent statement, and IMO completely violates ths "intrinsic point". Because the instrisinc point of view, must be constrained IMO. You can not even make a basic real life computation in infinite information in finite time. Therefore I don't think they belong as a basis for reasoning either.

 

From my point of view at least, it follows from this view, also a view on the scientific method. Because consistency of reasoning here requires that my quest for understanding the universe, must fit in the same abstraction as an excited atoms quest for equillibrium in an unknown environment. But basic assumption is that there is an analogy, and this is a rich source of intuition for me.

 

/Fredrik

 

Correction: An typo appeared.

 

Zurek's correct quote is

 

"what the observer KNOWS, is indistinguishable from what the observer IS"

 

/Fredrik

 

ps thank you very much for the link :)

 

More in this direction from Lee Smolin can be found in one of his books. Written for wide audience without math. The focus is thus on conceptual understanding and general direction rather than technical detail.

 

"The life of the Cosmos"

-- http://www.amazon.com/Life-Cosmos-Lee-Smolin/dp/0195126645

 

Smolins main argument for a new paradigm of evolving law, is closely related to what consider to be the key in the intrinsic point of view. Because an intrinsic point of view, IS (think Zurek) an observer, which is a part of the universe. And if we then consider that this observers knowledge about "law" is indistinguishable from his own existence, evolution of law, and evolution of spieces really are two sides of the same coin.

 

/Fredrik

Edited by fredrik
multiple post merged
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