What constitutes a paradigm shifting piece of evidence?

  • 15 Replies
  • 3328 Views
What constitutes a paradigm shifting piece of evidence?
« on: September 25, 2008, 09:09:42 AM »
Common in many threads both here and in the General Discussion forums are posts of the form:
"Theory-X can't be right because it doesn't explain observation-Y".

Almost every post defending theory-X (where both sides agree that observation-Y is a valid observation) typically looks like "just because theory-x doesn't explain it (yet) doesn't invalidate theory X". (Wardogg's post on methane invalidating the evolutionary timeline)

In essence, observation Y may or may not be explainable in theory X.

Yet there are some observations that DO invalidate previous theories. So what's so special about those observations?

The clearest examples are where the theory actually predicts something different from the observation. The galactic rotation curves, for example that lead to dark matter. Things move slower the further they get from the center of mass and yet stars rotational velocities are essentially constant wrt distance from the center of the galaxy. "Normal" "gravity" doesn't work this way.

To summarize these 2 cases are sort of the extreme.
  • First, observation-Y may still be able to be explained in the theory, we just don't know yet. (A type-1 observation)
  • Second, observation-Y is contrary to what Theory-X would predict, so we gotta revise our theories. (a type-2 observation)
However, there also are lots of a 3rd type of observation and that one may be worth discussing.

Specifically there does seem to be a slow accumulation of observations of the first type that at some point seem to tip the balance in favor of a new theory. The shift from steady-state universe to big-bang may be in this category and the "discovery" of glacial lake missoula may also fit.

I think that what happens here is that a slow accumulation of observations of type-1 (above) build up. These observations are not "random" but instead begin to paint a coherent picture of a different theory, then someone discovers or invents that theory and furthermore predicts a few more observations that will support it. When those observations are made the old theory dies and the new one is confirmed.

Glacial Lake Missoula is interesting. There are some geological features in Northern Idaho and eastern Washington State that are hard to explain through a gradual erosion process. Some of these features look like they could have been caused by a flood but there was no evidence of a body of water large enough in the area to have caused such a flood. Turns out they were looking for the wrong type of water body. People now believe that at the end of the last ice age there was a big ice dam that held back several cubic miles (IIRC) of melt water and when this dam cracked it flooded the entire region causing these landscape features.

I think that a lot of "crack pot" theorists think they have found observations of type-2 but instead have merely found observations of type-1 instead. Furthermore, even if they have multiple observations of type-1 they fail to be in "type-3" because these multiple type-1 observations do not paint a coherent alternative theory, they're just different random problems with the current theory.

?

MrKappa

  • 448
  • Math abstracts reality... it does not create it...
Re: What constitutes a paradigm shifting piece of evidence?
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2008, 10:21:36 AM »
What are your thoughts on the Grand Canyon?

Do you think it is a river erosion system or a rift system?







The Grand Canyon Earth Quakes since the 1970's
36.3N
-113W
300km 936 quakes
500km 9860 quakes



In other words... the paradigm is what the person believes and it is often in total disregard of what the facts are...


Glacial Lake Missoula is obviously a "river erosion system"... it has huge rift like features... volcanoes in the area... and of course it must be "ice dams" which created it... because volcanoes sure as hell have no relation to canyon and valley systems... just because you can find volcanoes in the immediate vicinity of all canyon system means nothing.

Volcanoes could have very well erupted... heated the area... and as a result the glaciers melted and eroded the land in that manner... Sounds much more probable than ice dams if you ask me... there is obviously something in the current paradigm which is keeping most geologists from considering this option. I would like to know what it is.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_St._Helens

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glacier_Peak

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Rainier

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Adams_(Washington)




EDIT: I can't believe this... Look at how this volcano erupts... Is that exactly where the ice dams are or what?

« Last Edit: September 25, 2008, 02:42:07 PM by MrKappa »

*

Sexual Harassment Panda

  • 7082
  • Now more sophisticated
Re: What constitutes a paradigm shifting piece of evidence?
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2008, 11:59:43 AM »
Common in many threads both here and in the General Discussion forums are posts of the form:
"Theory-X can't be right because it doesn't explain observation-Y".

Almost every post defending theory-X (where both sides agree that observation-Y is a valid observation) typically looks like "just because theory-x doesn't explain it (yet) doesn't invalidate theory X". (Wardogg's post on methane invalidating the evolutionary timeline)

In essence, observation Y may or may not be explainable in theory X.

Yet there are some observations that DO invalidate previous theories. So what's so special about those observations?

The clearest examples are where the theory actually predicts something different from the observation. The galactic rotation curves, for example that lead to dark matter. Things move slower the further they get from the center of mass and yet stars rotational velocities are essentially constant wrt distance from the center of the galaxy. "Normal" "gravity" doesn't work this way.

To summarize these 2 cases are sort of the extreme.
  • First, observation-Y may still be able to be explained in the theory, we just don't know yet. (A type-1 observation)
  • Second, observation-Y is contrary to what Theory-X would predict, so we gotta revise our theories. (a type-2 observation)
However, there also are lots of a 3rd type of observation and that one may be worth discussing.

Specifically there does seem to be a slow accumulation of observations of the first type that at some point seem to tip the balance in favor of a new theory. The shift from steady-state universe to big-bang may be in this category and the "discovery" of glacial lake missoula may also fit.

I think that what happens here is that a slow accumulation of observations of type-1 (above) build up. These observations are not "random" but instead begin to paint a coherent picture of a different theory, then someone discovers or invents that theory and furthermore predicts a few more observations that will support it. When those observations are made the old theory dies and the new one is confirmed.

Glacial Lake Missoula is interesting. There are some geological features in Northern Idaho and eastern Washington State that are hard to explain through a gradual erosion process. Some of these features look like they could have been caused by a flood but there was no evidence of a body of water large enough in the area to have caused such a flood. Turns out they were looking for the wrong type of water body. People now believe that at the end of the last ice age there was a big ice dam that held back several cubic miles (IIRC) of melt water and when this dam cracked it flooded the entire region causing these landscape features.

I think that a lot of "crack pot" theorists think they have found observations of type-2 but instead have merely found observations of type-1 instead. Furthermore, even if they have multiple observations of type-1 they fail to be in "type-3" because these multiple type-1 observations do not paint a coherent alternative theory, they're just different random problems with the current theory.

are you saying that because we cant prove gravity that it exists or that we cant prove the magic pushing the earth through the universe
|^^^^^^^^^^^\||_____          
|     STFU          |||""'|"""\___            O
| ______________|||___|__|__|)          -|- 
  (@)@)""""""**|(@)(@)**|(@)          / \

New Flat Earth FAQ: http://theflatearthsociety.org/forum/index.php?topic=30512.0

Re: What constitutes a paradigm shifting piece of evidence?
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2008, 10:26:53 AM »
Yea... my first post turned out to be longer than I planned. Here's a shorter summary:

There are 3 ways that data interacts with scientific theories.

  • observation is consistent with the theory
  • observation is inconsistent with the theory
  • observation is neither consistent nor inconsistent with the theory.

Clearly the 2nd of those above lead to the old theory being thrown out. But what about the 3rd? I further claim that, if you have a bunch of observations of the 3rd type, in total, this group of observations can further be broken into 2 parts. The first part is where the observations are all pointing in one direction, and the 2nd part is where they don't. So, another "paradigm shifting" type of observation is a group of observations that are neither consistent nor inconsistent with the current theory and that are also all pointing in the same direction to a new theory. What little I know of the exact details surrounding the big bang winning out over steady state, makes me think that that paradigm shift happened in this way.

To tie it into discussions I see here... in essence I see people posting observations that are neither consistent nor inconsistent with the theory and since the theory can't say which it is, they think that serves as proof that the current theory is wrong.

?

MrKappa

  • 448
  • Math abstracts reality... it does not create it...
Re: What constitutes a paradigm shifting piece of evidence?
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2008, 12:14:41 PM »
To tie it into discussions I see here... in essence I see people posting observations that are neither consistent nor inconsistent with the theory and since the theory can't say which it is, they think that serves as proof that the current theory is wrong.

Science is a religion... When people say something is "not possible"... they jump on it and they use it as an intellectual advantage over someone else.

The Grand Canyon is obviously a rift system... and... it is also a river erosion system.

Science isn't "wrong"... it's just dominated by the lowest common denominator. People who can't think for themselves. It's easy to tell somebody else they are wrong rather than offer definitive proof. It requires nothing.

Science is loaded with people demanding evidence and the truth is they haven't done anything except trust what somebody else has told them which is far from any sort of evidence.

Is that what your looking for? The difference between a scientist and a religious zealot? There is none.

ON a good note... I do not consider technicians and skilled laborers scientists.

Re: What constitutes a paradigm shifting piece of evidence?
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2008, 04:53:36 PM »
To tie it into discussions I see here... in essence I see people posting observations that are neither consistent nor inconsistent with the theory and since the theory can't say which it is, they think that serves as proof that the current theory is wrong.

Science is a religion... When people say something is "not possible"... they jump on it and they use it as an intellectual advantage over someone else.

Science is NOT a religion, but I know where you're coming from. I do agree that some scientists act as if it were one. They take longer than they could (note I did not say "should") to realize an old theory is wrong, but religion updates its fundamental beliefs much more slowly. And most times, when it does, it splits the religion, most times when science updates its fundamental beliefs, the vast majority of the scientific community quickly join in.

Is that what your looking for? The difference between a scientist and a religious zealot? There is none.


I'm not looking for anything but a discussion and perhaps to try to frame the discussions on this board. On the one hand the title of this thread is genuine. I see that you and others here post ... what I'll call "one-off" observations that are neither consistent nor inconsistent with prevailing theory and seem to want the rest of us to think that these observations should be paradigm shifting observations. I claim they are not for the reasons given above. I would rather debate THIS approach first than to get bogged down into nit-picky discussions on the individual observations at hand. If we can't agree on what a paradigm shifting observations SHOULD be (in theory), then what's the point of arguing over specific observations?

?

MrKappa

  • 448
  • Math abstracts reality... it does not create it...
Re: What constitutes a paradigm shifting piece of evidence?
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2008, 05:31:58 PM »
I claim they are not for the reasons given above. I would rather debate THIS approach first than to get bogged down into nit-picky discussions on the individual observations at hand. If we can't agree on what a paradigm shifting observations SHOULD be (in theory), then what's the point of arguing over specific observations?

I think it's entirely dependent on the person... Today's scientific climate seems to be more political than anything.

http://www.theskepticsguide.org/logicalfallacies.asp

What exactly is  paradigm shift? When a whole nation looks back 100 years from now and says... "hey... this is what we used to think... remember that?"

Of is life a constant stream of mini paradigm shifts belonging to the individual which is easily recognizable as learning...

Re: What constitutes a paradigm shifting piece of evidence?
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2008, 09:30:03 AM »
I claim they are not for the reasons given above. I would rather debate THIS approach first than to get bogged down into nit-picky discussions on the individual observations at hand. If we can't agree on what a paradigm shifting observations SHOULD be (in theory), then what's the point of arguing over specific observations?

I think it's entirely dependent on the person... Today's scientific climate seems to be more political than anything.

http://www.theskepticsguide.org/logicalfallacies.asp

What's entirely dependent on the person?

Look... if it's easier for you an alternative subject line for this thread could be "how much "confusing" evidence is needed before scientists change their prevailing world view?" And by "confusing" evidence I mean the neither consistent nor inconsistent types of observations.

Cool link, btw. Nice to see that all collected somewhere.  While I agree that a lot of arguments on this board use one or more of those fallacies, I do not think MY argument does.


?

MrKappa

  • 448
  • Math abstracts reality... it does not create it...
Re: What constitutes a paradigm shifting piece of evidence?
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2008, 11:04:19 AM »

Look... if it's easier for you an alternative subject line for this thread could be "how much "confusing" evidence is needed before scientists change their prevailing world view?" And by "confusing" evidence I mean the neither consistent nor inconsistent types of observations.

Cool link, btw. Nice to see that all collected somewhere.  While I agree that a lot of arguments on this board use one or more of those fallacies, I do not think MY argument does.


The paradigm shift depends on the person in question not necessarily a "convincing piece of evidence".

I never said your comments or reasoning were somehow flawed but rather it was suggested that scientific reasoning has little to do with facts and knowledge... instead having it's roots in belief and believability. Science being a political battleground of wits and logical fallacies rather than the pursuit of truth.

To prove this to you I have provided the Skeptics Guide to the Universes which is designed to attack the credibility and the logical thinking of the person who is offering their opinion which if they were offering facts worth investigating would be completely ignored.

http://michaelnetzer.com/gu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=55&Itemid=65

To be fair... Other people understand they are not up against facts but rather faith.

I do not approve of either of these doctrines but they both have their merits and are worth understanding.

« Last Edit: September 27, 2008, 11:29:25 AM by MrKappa »

Re: What constitutes a paradigm shifting piece of evidence?
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2008, 10:23:08 AM »
The paradigm shift depends on the person in question not necessarily a "convincing piece of evidence".

I never said your comments or reasoning were somehow flawed but rather it was suggested that scientific reasoning has little to do with facts and knowledge... instead having it's roots in belief and believability. Science being a political battleground of wits and logical fallacies rather than the pursuit of truth.

To prove this to you I have provided the Skeptics Guide to the Universes which is designed to attack the credibility and the logical thinking of the person who is offering their opinion which if they were offering facts worth investigating would be completely ignored.

http://michaelnetzer.com/gu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=55&Itemid=65

To be fair... Other people understand they are not up against facts but rather faith.

I do not approve of either of these doctrines but they both have their merits and are worth understanding.

I think we're talking 2 different things here. What I'm referring to definitely does not depend on the person, or at the very least I'm not talking about what changes an individual's mind but rather shifts the thinking of the community.

  • Back in the 1900s the thought was that our galaxy was the entire universe. That other galaxies existed was considered too radical. Yet slowly evidence built up that (for example) Andromeda wasn't a star/gas cloud, but a separate galaxy.
  • Similar shift in the steady state to the big bang theory. Yes, some people may still believe in the steady state version, but there was a time when MOST scientists believed in steady state and now MOST believe in big-bang.
  • I'm less familiar with medical advances, but doctors used to use leaches to bleed their patients in the expectation that letting the "infected?" blood out would spur a recovery.
  • Even more recent was the concept of washing hands before treating patients.

Are you positing that scientists DO NOT CHANGE their minds? That once a scientist grabs hold of a world-view/theory he holds on to that until he dies and the only way paradigms shift is when the old guard dies? Note, I do see the merits of a weaker form of this (as I believe do others) where acceptance increases once the old guard dies, but I believe acceptance of the new paradigm starts sooner than that.

*

Benocrates

  • 3077
  • Canadian Philosopher
Re: What constitutes a paradigm shifting piece of evidence?
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2008, 11:14:14 AM »
I disagree with nearly everything MrKappa has said. The goal of true science is the externalization of the mechanism that determines "truth". It is true that realization of "fact" must be internal to each individual, but that is true of all understanding and falls short as a critique of the scientific method. The concept of objective truth only extends as far as reason can reach.

   In one of your posts you completely mistook the method of peer review and specialization for the fallacy of authority. There is a pragmatic element to specialization, obviously. Your example of conflicting explanations for the grand canyon was an over-simplified critique of the concentration based system of academics.  Your mistake of the authority fallacy underestimates the mechanics of peer review. An excellent example of the efficacy of this mechanism can be seen in the cold fusion fraud: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg12917524.300-whatever-happened-to-cold-fusion-.html

   Your proposition that science is political is another oversimplified critique of social and political relativism, possibly stemming from an ignorance of the scientific ideal. When Max Weber proposed the new field of social science be free from value judgments, he brought what was practiced in the natural sciences since the enlightenment to the study of mans actions. Although some "truths" can be seized by coercive powers to propagandize and manipulate consciousness, the scientific ideal is objectivity.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2008, 06:35:52 PM by Benocrates »
Quote from: President Barack Obama
Pot had helped
Get the fuck over it.

Re: What constitutes a paradigm shifting piece of evidence?
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2008, 03:04:04 PM »
I disagree with nearly everything oldsoldier has said.

   In one of your posts you completely mistook the method of peer review and specialization for the fallacy of authority. There is a pragmatic element to specialization, obviously. Your example of conflicting explanations for the grand canyon

   Your proposition that science is political is another oversimplified critique of social and political relativism, possibly stemming from an ignorance of the scientific ideal.

I think you're getting me mixed up with MrKappa. I didn't post anything about the grand canyon and I didn't reply to MrKappa's comments about the grand canyon.


*

Benocrates

  • 3077
  • Canadian Philosopher
Re: What constitutes a paradigm shifting piece of evidence?
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2008, 06:34:56 PM »
oh yah, wrong name.
Quote from: President Barack Obama
Pot had helped
Get the fuck over it.

?

MrKappa

  • 448
  • Math abstracts reality... it does not create it...
Re: What constitutes a paradigm shifting piece of evidence?
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2008, 08:49:29 AM »
Your example of conflicting explanations for the grand canyon was an over-simplified critique of the concentration based system of academics.

I am not so sure I am attacking the system of academics but rather the assumptions which arise from lack of awareness.

I know it is important to grab scientific reference from sources which are good. But I do not believe this to be good enough. There are more often than not connections and inferences to mechanisms or causes within peer reviewed journals ( which draw conclusions while ignoring other evidences ) which in itself creates others to jump to other conclusions and ignore other evidences.

Usually when I post the Grand Canyon argument... which you can clearly see points out evidence to support a rift system I am usually asked to explain why the current theory is wrong. When in fact. I have never said it is wrong.

I have only pointed out obvious facts have not been discredited in the current theory and suggest evidence supports that the current theory should be modified to bring awareness to the other possible underlying cause.

No scientific paper is without dogma if if fails to recognize all the possible mechanisms if they attempt to explain a single mechanism.

For example... there are volcanoes all within the immediate vicinity of the ice dams... How can somebody not attempt to provide this as a possible mechanism for the glacier floods?

I will go out on a limb and suggest ignorance is what gives rise to the "paradigm"... The paradigm shifting piece of information being the pieces of evidence which simply go unnoticed for so long without a reasonable explanation that they contradict and eventually overrule what others believe to be true.

Quote
In one of your posts you completely mistook the method of peer review and specialization for the fallacy of authority.

Yes... I am guilty for questioning the authority of current belief systems which dominate the information age. I am asking people to think. It certainly is more aggressive than pacifist... Is this problematic?

Quote
Your proposition that science is political is another oversimplified critique of social and political relativism

I am not entirely sure what you mean by this... but to clarify where I sit... when I refer to political motives. I am referring to those who would like to make a name for themselves with their theory by focusing on a "mechanism" rather than the overall...

which makes me a hypocrite think ( in the context of this post )... which I am okay with by the way...
« Last Edit: October 01, 2008, 09:07:46 AM by MrKappa »

*

Benocrates

  • 3077
  • Canadian Philosopher
Re: What constitutes a paradigm shifting piece of evidence?
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2008, 09:25:21 AM »
It's difficult to understand your point through you poor sentence structure.
Quote from: President Barack Obama
Pot had helped
Get the fuck over it.

?

MrKappa

  • 448
  • Math abstracts reality... it does not create it...
Re: What constitutes a paradigm shifting piece of evidence?
« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2008, 10:04:06 AM »
It's difficult to understand your point through you poor sentence structure.

You make spelling mistakes and make wild assumptions. I don't complain.

What didn't you understand?

People have a bias to trusting their beliefs rather than examining the facts. I think that sums it up.

Example... I choose the Grand Canyon argument because I know the creationists usually argue for it being a rift. It paints the immediate picture that I am someone to be attacked by atheists.

I am challenging peoples beliefs and defending scientific thought. Rather than attacking the scientific academic process itself.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2008, 10:10:16 AM by MrKappa »