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Post Reply Why is science just theories? Is there anything absolute?
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Posted 10/26/17 , edited 10/26/17

PeripheralVisionary wrote:

Wow, no wonder there are nearly no theories in math! They are all theorems!


It's definitely a different beast. I'll never forget one of my college professors describing how math is "pure" science.
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Posted 10/26/17 , edited 10/26/17
Are they? I thought math was all theories.... The main reason being that math is not an experimental science but a philosophy. You cannot experiment on things 1+1=2 you either go with an apple and an apple make 2 apples or you go with 1+1=1 that means an apple and a human make a full stomach :P
In either case, I would say math is a language. If you use theorem/theories as a term then mathematics are the language of Theos= God as he describes what he sees=ορω (theory= Godsees)
Posted 10/26/17 , edited 10/26/17

HateKillingCamels wrote:

this is why I believe in the word of the great lord jesus christ, peace be upon him, he always shows me the light and truth.


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Posted 10/26/17 , edited 10/26/17
People have pretty much covered it, but to sum it all:

Evolution is fact. "The theory of evolution" as it is termed in science means something fundamentally different from the concept of "theory" in laymen's terms. Science is, basically, the process of developing a hypothesis (educated guess that can be disproven) about something, and then desperately trying to prove yourself wrong. If you fail to do that, then that becomes the existing hypothesis about the thing. Other people try, and maybe they disprove parts of it, so you revise the hypothesis. When hundreds of people have done this suitably, then you decide that you are about as sure about the thing as is actually possible, so it becomes a "theory". For practical purposes, you are absolutely certain, but the whole point of science is to leave open the possibility of disproving something.

Evolution is fact. We know, without shadow of a doubt, that it happens. It has literally been observed, in real time, in labs, and the principles of evolution are used to make predictions about phenomena - that's how predictions are made about the flu before flu season so that a vaccine that will, usually, work can be made. Evolution is how antibiotic-resistant bacteria have developed and become a problem. Evolution is absolute fact, but the nitty gritty details and hard specifics are still being worked out. Does it happen? yes. Can we predict the path it will take? In some species, yes. Can we do so perfectly? No.

It is technically possible that someday someone could disprove the fundamental principles of evolution, but it's such a small probability at this point that is practically zero. But science never likes closing that 1 in 100 billion billion billion chance opening.
Ejanss 
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Posted 10/26/17 , edited 10/26/17

oneouts123 wrote:

I feel like science is mostly theories and guesses. Nobody knows for sure. Evolution, The human body and space are all just theories. I have been trying to do research on certain scientific topics but I keep finding articles and "scientific evidence" claiming different things. All from people who have PHDs and wrote books about their topic. I don't know who I should believe. Will we ever understand the world with 100% accuracy?


Of course not--That's why we keep looking.

Unlike the people who (ahem) put science on a flag, and proclaim it their spiritual/political banner, science admits that to say for absolute certain that something EXISTS or DOESN'T EXIST as a final statement for now and all time would imply omniscient knowledge of the entire universe to say so with authority, which...isn't exactly scientific.

Science only allows you to talk about what you've seen:
That's why prescription drug commercials on TV aren't allowed to say a drug will "cure" something, the FDA only allows them to say "Improved conditions were seen in a significant number of test studies".
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Posted 10/26/17 , edited 10/26/17

oneouts123 wrote:
What if there are 2 scientific theories that oppose each other. If they are both fact then who is right?


Theories can oppose each other without contradicting each other. When this happens, it is because of the initial conditions, or assumptions. Change the assumptions made, and a different observation results. Both can be true if they happen in different situations.
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Posted 10/26/17 , edited 10/27/17
The fastest way to know a scientific fraud is to get them to say that anything has been "proven". No real scientist will ever use that word, because that's not how the scientific method works.

The scientific method doesn't "prove" anything. Physical scientists (physicists, chemists, biologists, etc...) generally accept a new discovery when it achieves a 5 sigma confidence rate. Basically, if a specific result can be successfully reproduced 95% of the time or is within a thin margin of error, then it's considered scientifically significant. These are what non-scientists call "discoveries".

But absolutely everything is fair game to be retested. Newton's laws of motion are the perfect example. Before Einstein's encoded Relativity, Newton's laws went 300 years without a serious challenge for the basis of all motion and momentum. But Einstein's theories demonstrated that Newton's laws are actually specific cases of relativity, using (relatively) slow speeds and low masses. Einstein's numbers were accurate within their predicted error when a group of astronomers tested them in 1922. So even though Einstein didn't disprove Newton's laws, he built a new theory that encapsulated what we already knew, and we then conducted an experiment whose results agreed with the theory. That's generally how science works.

So to directly answer your question: No, we don't "know" anything for certain. We only have a statistically significant (95+%) confidence that's always being tested and retested. There's no upper limit to this, so we can have a 99.9999999% confidence, but it will never actually hit 100%
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Posted 10/26/17 , edited 10/26/17

oneouts123 wrote:

I feel like science is mostly theories and guesses. Nobody knows for sure.


It's not enough to know for sure. You have to prove it.

Most of what we regard as fact in our daily lives is a theory at best. You have a neighbour named Bob, and you know for sure he's your neighbour and his name is Bob, but you couldn't prove it. You just have a quantity of evidence which is reasonably compelling. He's frequently in the house next to yours, nobody has told him to leave, and he told you his name was Bob. That's enough for most people to accept that he's your neighbour and his name is Bob, but it doesn't actually prove anything. From a scientific standpoint, it is just a theory.

But we regard it as truth, because the bar is lower outside of the lab. Saying something is "just" a theory is a serious misunderstanding of just how big a deal it is to prove anything.
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Posted 10/26/17 , edited 10/26/17
Theory and Model ≠ Reality (whatever that is) in the same way that the map isn't the territory if you understand that one quote from that one guy. While theory and a model can describe reality there is inherent limitation within various aspects to understanding things either through the way we conduct research, the way in which we explain it, the way in which we perceive something, etc.

Really all we can do is approximate from the piecemealed byproduct of our attempt to understand things. Life itself from my perspective always seems to change and isn't necessarily static so even if we are to know something as an "absolute" perhaps somewhere down the line that potential of change could change that "absolute".
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Posted 10/26/17 , edited 10/26/17
We can also consider Cromwell's principle; even if something seems certain we should consider that we may be mistaken, otherwise new evidence contradicting our certainties won't be accepted.
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Posted 10/26/17 , edited 10/27/17

IgnitePrometheus wrote:

People have pretty much covered it, but to sum it all:

Evolution is fact. "The theory of evolution" as it is termed in science means something fundamentally different from the concept of "theory" in laymen's terms. Science is, basically, the process of developing a hypothesis (educated guess that can be disproven) about something, and then desperately trying to prove yourself wrong. If you fail to do that, then that becomes the existing hypothesis about the thing. Other people try, and maybe they disprove parts of it, so you revise the hypothesis. When hundreds of people have done this suitably, then you decide that you are about as sure about the thing as is actually possible, so it becomes a "theory". For practical purposes, you are absolutely certain, but the whole point of science is to leave open the possibility of disproving something.

Evolution is fact. We know, without shadow of a doubt, that it happens. It has literally been observed, in real time, in labs, and the principles of evolution are used to make predictions about phenomena - that's how predictions are made about the flu before flu season so that a vaccine that will, usually, work can be made. Evolution is how antibiotic-resistant bacteria have developed and become a problem. Evolution is absolute fact, but the nitty gritty details and hard specifics are still being worked out. Does it happen? yes. Can we predict the path it will take? In some species, yes. Can we do so perfectly? No.

It is technically possible that someday someone could disprove the fundamental principles of evolution, but it's such a small probability at this point that is practically zero. But science never likes closing that 1 in 100 billion billion billion chance opening.



UMM not its not, evolution is not fact at all stop lying. micro evolution maybe but not evolution as a whole nice try though.

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Posted 10/26/17 , edited 10/26/17
gravity.
Ejanss 
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Posted 10/26/17 , edited 10/26/17

Ghostfriendly wrote:

We can also consider Cromwell's principle; even if something seems certain we should consider that we may be mistaken, otherwise new evidence contradicting our certainties won't be accepted.


For hundreds of years, philosophers didn't know there were nine planets.

Now we beat up Neil DeGrasse Tyson for saying Pluto isn't one.
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Posted 10/26/17 , edited 10/27/17

amejia0 wrote:

You are actually quite right in believing what you do. Most of everything that is taken as fact is essentially guesswork. But a lot of theories hold weight because they haven't been disproven. It leaves the door open for further experimentation and maybe someone in the future with better technology or just smarter will finally prove/disprove said theory.

I don't have much experimental experience in hard sciences such as physics/biology but what I do have is intimate knowledge of the experimental process for psychology. And I can 100% vouch that 99% of "proof" that studies find is based on guesswork that is substantiated through statistical analysis.



As someone with a degree in Geosciences (with a healthy dose of physics and chemistry)... I can most definitely tell you it is not guess work at all!

A theory is an idea that is based on observations. These observations can later be worked on to become fact. Take plate tectonics and continental drift. Back in the days there were many theories for this such as expanding earth theory, still earth theory and the later continental drift. The latter was seen as complete bull. These were all theories based on facts.

One day, we learned about measuring magnetism of rocks and did it along the coast of California... That's odd... The magnetism goes parallel to the coast... Why is this? Later, it was found out that new crust is being formed along the MOR's and subducting elsewhere. Continental drift went from a bull shit scientific theory to a (soon to be) scientific fact.

None of this was done by statistics also.
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Posted 10/26/17 , edited 10/27/17
Please understand the need to disambiguate your assertions about theory & guesses.
To begin with, that you 'feel like science is mostly theories and guesses.' is a large part of the problem.
Science is not emotional in any form. Science in and of itself does not have a moral aspect, nor does our universe.
That's not to say that in order for our species to survive in a harmonious civilised manner, we don't need to abide by a moral code.
Our existence as humanity requires a superset of science & philosophy in our collective worldview - we cannot live without either.

Exactly as Dark Alma states, scientific theory is NOT guesswork, and the technological advancement of our current civilisation from the invention of the wheel owes its existence to known, proven scientific principles, not 'mostly guesses'.

Scientific process & methodology relies on strict disciplined adherance to multiple stages, from observed phenomena being recorded in detail, procedural examination, classification & categorisation into specialties, theories developed from rational thought using already experimentally proven fact, and principles being postulated & submitted to the scientific community.
An iterative cycle of peer review, experimental corroboration/proof/disproof, & refinement then begins.

It is only in some cases where experimental proof cannot be absolutely asserted, despite initial observations & asserted theory & predictions based on that theory being upheld with matching further observations over time - due to factors such as
- changing rates of radioactive background over time impacting reliability of certain carbon date ranges (impacting degree of accuracy at relatively small time scales )
- quantum effects making the outcome change when our current level of apparatus attempts to observe the experiment (i.e. photons/electrons/emitted radiation used by the examining apparatus interacts with the matter being observed)
- inability to construct experimental apparatus to directly measure unknown or distant artifacts, only the effect of those artifacts on neighbouring matter or detectable energy levels (e.g. we detect planets only through shifts over time in stellar object apparent & absolute magnitude, rotational displacement, & light/doppler spectroscopy).

Scientific progress on understanding the fundamental structure of the universe requires further advances in our ability to measure what is currently unmeasurable, but what we CAN measure, we have measured. Your lifetime would not be sufficient to learn all we have already documented as proven scientific principle, let alone begin to explore the latest observed phenomena awaiting proof to support theory.

Similarly with the human body, we can understand to a finite degree how it works & why at a sub-cellular level, electrochemically, and to a limited degree, genetically, but even as our understanding grows, the structure of our genetic code & the genetic code of virii & bacteria is also evolving & changing, necessitating continual advancement & application of new theory & experimentation.

Thus, it is disingenuous to expect 'absolutes' when existence is not static or unchanging,
however that does not make established, proven scientific principles not 100% accurate when the experimental data proves it,
it merely means that additional science must be continually applied to account for new & changing observations.
SOME principles may need to be re-examined when new, more accurate measuring apparatus gets differing findings from older apparatus, but this is a refinement of a formula, not a disproof of theory.

Science cannot be applied to intangible philosophical aspects of our existence because they are unscientific by nature.
Predeterminism vs free will is more of a philosophical argument than a scientific theory.
Same with Brain vs Mind vs Spirit/Soul
Psychology is not science.
Mechanistic principles and the Newtonian universe was a set of theories which worked well even up to the Apollo missions, and only required refinement to account for behaviours at greatly larger & smaller scales (of both size & time).

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