SCIENCE OF SUPERSTITIONS : “Probably the most beautiful experience we could have could be the mysterious. It’s the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
Albert Einstein, The World as I See It, 1931
The debate between realism and anti-realism is, at the least, a century old. Does Science describe the real world – or are its theories true only inside a certain conceptual framework? Is science only instrumental or empirically adequate or will there be more to it than that? The existing – mythological – image of scientific enquiry is the following:
Without resorting to reality, you can, given infinite time and resources, produce all conceivable theories. One of these brilliant theories is bound to function as “truth “.To determine one of them, scientists conduct experiments and compare their results to predictions yielded by the theories. A theory is falsified when one or more of its predictions fails. No level of excellent results – i.e., outcomes that confirm the theory’s predictions – can “prove right” a theory. Theories can only be proven false by that great arbiter, reality. Jose Ortega y Gasset said (in an unrelated exchange) that most ideas stem from pre-rational beliefs. William James concurred by saying that accepting a truth often requires an act of will which goes beyond facts and into the realm of feelings.
Maybe so, but there is little doubt today that beliefs are somehow involved in the synthesis of many scientific ideas, if not of the very endeavor of Science. All things considered, Science is an individual activity and humans always feel that things exist (=are true) or could possibly be true. A distinction is traditionally made between believing in something’s existence, truth, value of appropriateness (this is the way in which so it must be) – and believing that something. The latter is just a propositional attitude: we genuinely believe that something, we wish that something, we believe something and we feel that something. Believing in A and believing that A – are different.
It’s reasonable to think that belief is just a limited affair. Few people would tend to believe in contradictions and falsehoods. Catholic theologians speak about explicit belief (in something which can be known to the believer to be true) versus implicit one (in the known consequences of something whose truth can not be known). Truly, we rely on the likelihood of something (we, thus, express an opinion) – or in its certain existence (truth). All humans rely on the existence of connections or relationships between things. This is not something which is often proven or proven false (to use Popper’s test). That things consistently follow one another doesn’t prove they’re related in just about any objective, “real”, manner – except inside our minds.
This belief in a few order (if we define order as permanent relations between separate physical or abstract entities) permeates both Science and Superstition. They both feel that there has to be – and is – a link between things out there. Science limits itself and believes that only certain entities inter-relate within well defined conceptual frames (called theories). Not everything gets the potential to get in touch to everything else. Entities are discriminated, differentiated, classified and assimilated in worldviews relating with the kinds of connections that they forge with each other. Moreover, Science believes which it has a pair of very efficient tools in order to identify, distinguish, observe and describe these relationships.
It proves its point by issuing highly accurate predictions in line with the relationships discerned by making use of said tools. Science (mostly) claims these connections are “true” meaning likely certain – not probable. The cycle of formulation, prediction and falsification (or proof) could be the core of the human being scientific activity. Alleged connections that can not be captured in these nets of reasoning are cast out either as “hypothetical” or as “false “.Quite simply: Science defines “relations between entities” as “relations between entities which has been established and tested utilizing the scientific apparatus and arsenal of tools “.This, admittedly, is a very cyclical argument, as close to tautology as it gets.
Superstition is a incredibly easier matter: all things are plugged into all things in ways unbeknown to us. We can only witness the results these subterranean currents and deduce arsenic intoxication such currents through the observable flotsam. The planets influence our everyday life, dry coffee sediments contain details about the long run, black cats portend disasters, certain dates are propitious, certain numbers should be avoided. The modern world is unsafe because it might do not be fathomed. But the fact that we – limited even as we are – cannot discover a hidden connection – ought not imply it doesn’t exist. Science believes in two classes of relationships between entities (physical and abstract alike).
The main one is the category of direct links – the other that from links by way of a third entity. In the initial case, A and B are considered being directly related. In the second case, there isn’t a apparent link between A and B, but a 3rd entity, C could well provide such appreciable link (for instance, if A and B are elements of C or are separately, but concurrently somehow depending it). These two classes is split to a few subcategories: causal relationships, functional relationships and correlative relationship. A and B is going to be said to be causally related if A precedes B, B never occurs if A won’t precede it and also occurs after A occurs. Towards discerning eye, this looks to become relationship of correlation (“whenever A happens B happens”) and that is true.
Causation is subsumed by way of a the 1.0 correlation relationship category. Quite simply: this can be a private case of your more general case of correlation. A and B are functionally related if B is usually predicted by assuming A but we’ve no way of establishing the simple truth importance of A. Rogues is a postulate or axiom. Time dependent Schrödinger Equation is a postulate (cannot be derived, it is simply reasonable). Still, it does not take dynamic laws underlying wave mechanics, an integral part of quantum mechanics, probably the most accurate scientific theory that many of us have. An unproved, non-derivable equation is related functionally to quite a few exceedingly precise statements about reality (observed experimental results).
A and B are correlated if A explains a significant the main existence or the type of B. It is then clear that A and B are related. Evolution has equipped us with highly developed correlation mechanisms as they are efficient in insuring survival. To visit a tiger in order to associate the awesome sight with an audio is very useful. Still, we simply cannot state with any modicum of certainty which i possess lots of conceivable tools for ones detection, description, analysis and using of relations between entities. Put differently: we simply cannot say that lacking connections that escape the tight nets which i cast for you to capture them. We cannot, as an illustration, say with any identify certainty that lacking hyper-structures which would supply new, surprising insights in to the interconnectedness of objects in the real world or perhaps in our mind.
We cannot even say that epistemological structures with which there we were endowed are final or satisfactory. Do not know enough about knowing. Consider the cases of Non-Aristotelian logic formalisms, Non-Euclidean geometries, Newtonian Mechanics and non classical physical theories (the relativity theories and, more so, quantum mechanics will be various interpretations). Every one revealed to us connections which we would not have imagined previous to their appearance. Every one created new tools for ones capture of interconnectivity and inter-relatedness. Every one suggested one kind or the other of mental hyper-structures rrn which new links between entities (hitherto considered disparate) might established.
So far, so excellent for superstitions. Today’s superstition could well become tomorrow’s Science given a good theoretical developments. The cause in the clash lies elsewhere, during the insistence of superstitions upon a causal relation. The general structure associated with a superstition is: A is resulting from B. The causation propagates through unknown (one or more) mechanisms. These mechanisms are unidentified (empirically) or unidentifiable (in principle). One example is, al the mechanisms of causal propagation that happens to be somehow related to divine powers can’t, in principle, be understood (because the actual nature of divinity is sealed to human understanding).
Thus, superstitions incorporate mechanisms of action that happens to be, either, unknown to Science – or are impossible to discover, as far as Science goes. Lots of the “action-at-a-distance” mechanisms are of link units type (unknowable). Parapsychological mechanisms are more of the first kind (unknown). The philosophical argument behind superstitions is pretty straightforward and appealing. Perhaps it is the origin of their appeal. It is the following:
- There’s little that are usually imagined that doesn’t seem possible (in lots of Universes);
- Nothing impossible (in lots of Universes) which could be imagined;
- Everything which could be seriously considered – is, therefore, possible (somewhere during the Universes);
- Precisely what is workable exists (somewhere during the Universes).
- If something are usually imagined (=is possible) and is not known (=proven or observed) yet – it’s always likely a result of the shortcomings of Science instead of because it not exist.
Some of these propositions can be easily attacked. For example: we are able to consider contradictions and falsehoods but (apart from a questionnaire of mental representation) no body will claim which they exist in reality or that they’re possible. These statements, though, apply well to entities, the existence of which includes yet to be disproved (=not known as false, or whose truth value is uncertain) and to improbable (though possible) things. It is in these formal logical niches that superstition thrives.
APPENDIX – From “The Cycle of Science”
“There clearly was an occasion once the newspapers stated that only twelve men understood the theory of relativity. I do not believe that there ever was this type of time… On one other hand, I believe that it is safe to say that no body understands quantum mechanics… Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it,’But how would it be like that?’ , when you will get’down the drain’right into a blind alley that nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it may be like that.”
R. P. Feynman (1967)
“The initial processes, therefore, in the effectual studies of the sciences, must be ones of simplification and reduced total of the outcome of previous investigations to a questionnaire in which the mind can grasp them.”
J. C. Maxwell, On Faraday’s lines of force
” …conventional formulations of quantum theory, and of quantum field theory particularly, are unprofessionally vague and ambiguous. Professional theoretical physicists ought to have the ability to do better. Bohm has shown us a way.”
John S. Bell, Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics
“It would appear that the theory [quantum mechanics] is exclusively concerned with’results of measurement ‘, and has nothing to say about anything else. What exactly qualifies some physical systems to play the role of’measurer ‘? Was the wavefunction of the planet waiting to jump for tens of thousands of countless years until a single-celled living creature appeared? Or made it happen have to attend a little longer, for many better qualified system … with a Ph.D.? If the theory is to use to anything but highly idealized laboratory operations, are we not obliged to admit that just about’measurement-like’processes are getting on just about constantly, just about everywhere. Do we not need jumping then constantly?
The initial charge against’measurement ‘, in the fundamental axioms of quantum mechanics, is so it anchors the shifty split of the planet into’system’and’apparatus ‘. A second charge is that the word comes laden with meaning from every day life, meaning that is entirely inappropriate in the quantum context. When it’s stated that something is’measured’it’s difficult not to think of the end result as discussing some pre-existing property of the item in question. That is to disregard Bohr’s insistence that in quantum phenomena the apparatus in addition to the system is essentially involved. When it weren’t so, how could we understand, as an example, that’measurement’of a element of’angular momentum’… in an arbitrarily chosen direction … yields one of a discrete group of values?
When one forgets the role of the apparatus, because word’measurement’makes all too likely, one despairs of ordinary logic … hence’quantum logic ‘. When one remembers the role of your apparatus, ordinary logic is fine. In other contexts, physicists are actually able to take words from ordinary language and utilize them as technical terms without the need of great harm done. Take for example the’strangeness ‘,’charm ‘, and’beauty’of elementary particle physics. We’re not drawn in through this’baby talk ‘… Would that this were so with’measurement ‘. But in fact the phrase has received this kind of damaging impact on the discussion, that It should certainly banned altogether in quantum mechanics.”
J. S. Bell, Against “Measurement”
“Don’t you find it clear from your smallness of your scintillation on the screen that we have to do with a particle? And is it not clear, from your diffraction and interference patterns, the fact that motion of your particle is directed with a wave? De Broglie showed in more detail how a motion of a particle, passing through just 1 of 2 holes in screen, can be relying on waves propagating through both holes. And thus influenced the fact that particle will not go the spot that the waves eliminate, but is drawn to where they co-operate. This concept appears to me so natural and, to fix the wave-particle dilemma ordinary clear and ordinary way, it’s a great mystery in my opinion that this was generally ignored.”
J. S. Bell, Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics
“…in physics a common observations we must consider are position observations, if only the positions of instrument pointers. It is a fantastic merit of your de Broglie-Bohm picture to force us to think about this fact. If you make axioms, as opposed to definitions and theorems, in regards to the “measurement” of everything else, in which case you commit redundancy and risk inconsistency.”
J. S. Bell, Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics
“To outward appearance, today’s world came into this world of anti religious movement: man becoming self-sufficient and reason supplanting belief. Our generation and each that preceded it often hear little of but talk of your conflict between science and faith; indeed it seemed at one moment a foregone conclusion that the previous was going to replace the latter… After close on 220 years of passionate struggles, neither science nor faith has succeeded in discrediting its adversary. To the contrary, it gets obvious that neither can be cultivated normally minus the other. And the reason being simple: exactly the same life animates both. Neither included in the impetus nor its achievements can science pay a visit to the brink without becoming tinged with mysticism and convicted of faith.”
Pierre Thierry de Chardin, “The Phenomenon of Man”
I opened this appendix with lengthy quotations of John S. Bell, the main proponent of your Bohemian Mechanics interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (really, another solution as opposed to an interpretation). The renowned physicist, David Bohm (in the 50s), basing himself on work done much earlier by de Broglie (the unwilling father of your wave-particle dualism), embedded the Schrödinger Equation (SE throughout this article) in any deterministic physical theory which postulated a non-Newtonian motion of particles. This is a fine demonstration of the relationship cycle of scientific theories. Witchcraft, Religion, Alchemy and Science succeeded the other person and each and every such transition was seen as a transitional pathologies reminiscent of psychotic disorders.
The exceptions are (arguably) medicine and biology. A phenomenology of ossified bodies of data will make an appealing read. Here is the end of the aforementioned life cycle: Growth, Pathology, Ossification. This informative article identifies the existing Ossification Phase of Science and suggests that it’s potential succeeded by another discipline. It will so after studying and rejecting other explanations to the present state of science: that human knowledge is fixed by its very nature, that the world is inherently incomprehensible, that techniques for carpet cleaning thought and understanding are inclined to self-organize to make closed mythic systems and that you have a problem of the language which we employ in making our inquiries around the world describable and communicable.
Kuhn’s procedure for Scientific Revolutions is but without doubt one of several approaches to issues of theory and paradigm shifts in scientific thought and its resulting evolution. Scientific theories seem to be subject to a procedure of natural selection even though organisms are typically in nature. Animals may just be construed to always be theorems (with an truth value) in your logical system “Nature “.But species become extinct because nature itself changes (not nature as a couple potentials – but the relevant natural phenomena this agreement the species are exposed). Could we are saying similar about scientific theories? Could they be being selected and deselected partly due to a changing, shifting backdrop?
Indeed, the main debate between “realists” and “anti-realists” in your philosophy of Science is usually thus settled, by adopting this single premise: the Universe is as opposed to a fixture. By contrasting a limited subject of the learning (“The World”) while using moving image of Science – anti-realists gained the top hand. Arguments for example the under-determination of theories by data and also the pessimistic meta-inductions from past falsity (of scientific “knowledge”) emphasized the transience and asymptotic nature of the fruits of the scientific endeavor. But this all rests on the implicit assumption that there are some universal, immutable, truth out there (which strives to approximate).
The apparent problem evaporates if we allow the observer and also the observed, the idea and its subject, the setting, in addition to fleeting images, to always be alterable. Science develops through decrease in miracles. Laws of nature are formulated. They are really assumed to encompass each of the (relevant) natural phenomena (that is, phenomena governed by natural forces and within nature). Ex definitio, nothing can exist outside nature – it is usually all-inclusive and all-pervasive, omnipresent (formerly the attributes of the divine). Supernatural forces, supernatural intervention – are really a contradiction in terms, oxymorons. Whether it exists – it is usually natural. That which is supernatural – just isn’t going to exist. Miracles do not simply contravene (or violate) the laws of nature – they’ve been impossible, not simply physically, but will also logically.
(to be continued,….. Part 2)