What Matters in Science: Simplicity or Truth?
(trop ancien pour répondre)
Pentcho Valev
2017-11-22 17:44:53 UTC
Sabine Hossenfelder: "That scientific theories greatly simplify the stories we tell about the world is extremely important and embodies what we even mean by doing science. Forget all about Popperism and falsification, just ask what's the most useful explanation. Saying that the world was created 10,000 years ago with all fossils in place is useless in terms of explaining the fossils. If you, on the other hand, extrapolate the evolution law back in time 4 billion years, you can start with a much simpler initial condition. That's why it's a better explanation. You get more out of less. So there's your band aid: Saying that the world was created 10,000 years ago with everything in place is unfalsifiable but also useless. It is quantifiably not simple: you need to put a lot of data into the initial condition. A much simpler, and thus scientifically better, explanation, is that planet Earth is ages old and Darwinian evolution did its task." http://backreaction.blogspot.bg/2017/11/how-do-you-prove-that-earth-is-older.html

No. The problem with the initial assumption that "the world was created 10,000 years ago with all fossils in place" is that it is FALSE, not that it is "not simple". And it IS falsifiable, by rational arguments.

Analogously, Einstein's 1905 constant-speed-of-light postulate killed physics because it was FALSE, not because it was "not simple":

"The speaker Joao Magueijo, is a Reader in Theoretical Physics at Imperial College, London and author of Faster Than the Speed of Light: The Story of a Scientific Speculation. He opened by explaining how Einstein's theory of relativity is the foundation of every other theory in modern physics and that the assumption that the speed of light is constant is the foundation of that theory. Thus a constant speed of light is embedded in all of modern physics and to propose a varying speed of light (VSL) is worse than swearing! It is like proposing a language without vowels." http://www.thegreatdebate.org.uk/VSLRevPrnt.html

"...Dr. Magueijo said. "We need to drop a postulate, perhaps the constancy of the speed of light." http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/31/science/e-and-mc2-equality-it-seems-is-relative.html

"But the researchers said they spent a lot of time working on a theory that wouldn't destabilise our understanding of physics. "The whole of physics is predicated on the constancy of the speed of light," Joao Magueijo told Motherboard. "So we had to find ways to change the speed of light without wrecking the whole thing too much." http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/12/06/speed-light-discovered/

Joao Magueijo, Faster Than the Speed of Light, p. 250: "Lee [Smolin] and I discussed these paradoxes at great length for many months, starting in January 2001. We would meet in cafés in South Kensington or Holland Park to mull over the problem. THE ROOT OF ALL THE EVIL WAS CLEARLY SPECIAL RELATIVITY. All these paradoxes resulted from well known effects such as length contraction, time dilation, or E=mc^2, all basic predictions of special relativity. And all denied the possibility of establishing a well-defined border, common to all observers, capable of containing new quantum gravitational effects." http://www.amazon.com/Faster-Than-Speed-Light-Speculation/dp/0738205257

Pentcho Valev
Pentcho Valev
2017-11-22 18:13:46 UTC
Dead science:

Stephen Hawking: "I don't demand that a theory correspond to reality because I don't know what it is." Sabine Hossenfelder: "Thanks for these quotes! I recently had a philosopher make fun of me for stating that science isn't about truths, and this makes me feel so much better. Next time I'll quote Hawking in my defense." http://backreaction.blogspot.bg/2017/11/how-do-you-prove-that-earth-is-older.html

Pentcho Valev
Pentcho Valev
2017-11-22 22:03:09 UTC
There is absolute truth in science. Of the following two statements one is absolutely true, the other is false:

(A) The speed of light depends on the speed of the light source.

(B) The speed of light is independent of the speed of the light source.

Einstein hesitated between A (a tenet of Newton's emission theory of light) and B (a tenet of the ether theory) and finally chose B, the false one, as his 1905 second postulate. As a result, science became insane (died):

Banesh Hoffmann, Relativity and Its Roots, p.92: "Moreover, if light consists of particles, as Einstein had suggested in his paper submitted just thirteen weeks before this one, the second principle seems absurd: A stone thrown from a speeding train can do far more damage than one thrown from a train at rest; the speed of the particle is not independent of the motion of the object emitting it. And if we take light to consist of particles and assume that these particles obey Newton's laws, they will conform to Newtonian relativity and thus automatically account for the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment without recourse to contracting lengths, local time, or Lorentz transformations. Yet, as we have seen, Einstein resisted the temptation to account for the null result in terms of particles of light and simple, familiar Newtonian ideas, and introduced as his second postulate something that was more or less obvious when thought of in terms of waves in an ether. If it was so obvious, though, why did he need to state it as a principle? Because, having taken from the idea of light waves in the ether the one aspect that he needed, he declared early in his paper, to quote his own words, that "the introduction of a 'luminiferous ether' will prove to be superfluous." https://www.amazon.com/Relativity-Its-Roots-Banesh-Hoffmann/dp/0486406768

Thibault Damour: "The paradigm of the special relativistic upheaval of the usual concept of time is the twin paradox. Let us emphasize that this striking example of time dilation proves that time travel (towards the future) is possible. As a gedanken experiment (if we neglect practicalities such as the technology needed for reaching velocities comparable to the velocity of light, the cost of the fuel and the capacity of the traveller to sustain high accelerations), it shows that a sentient being can jump, "within a minute" (of his experienced time) arbitrarily far in the future, say sixty million years ahead, and see, and be part of, what (will) happen then on Earth. This is a clear way of realizing that the future "already exists" (as we can experience it "in a minute")." http://www.bourbaphy.fr/damourtemps.pdf

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Pentcho Valev
Pentcho Valev
2017-11-23 14:45:22 UTC
Another example of absolute truth in science. Water in electric field:

"The Formation of the Floating Water Bridge including electric breakdowns"

The system is obviously able to produce work - e.g. by rotating a waterwheel. Of the following two statements one is absolutely true, the other is false:

1. The work will be done at the expense of electric energy.

2. The work will be done at the expense of ambient heat, in violation of the second law of thermodynamics.

Scientists may not know which of the statements is absolutely true and which is false, or may diligently practice crimestop:

"Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity." http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/o/orwell/george/o79n/chapter2.9.html

Still the absolute truth does exist.

Pentcho Valev