Comments on: Sciences and nons(ci)ences http://blogs.reuters.com/emanuelderman/2011/08/05/sciences-and-nonsciences/ Models.Behaving.Badly Fri, 14 Sep 2012 09:10:53 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 By: complexwriter http://blogs.reuters.com/emanuelderman/2011/08/05/sciences-and-nonsciences/#comment-82 Wed, 10 Aug 2011 02:43:58 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/emanuelderman/?p=183#comment-82 According to classic philosophy and “classic” philosophers science is one of the methods of “cognition” (research, study). Another methods are philosophy itself, divine revelation, mystic experience. Before age of modern (in renaissance, medieval, ancient times) these methods were considered as equal (moreover, sciencific method was considered defective, because it was based on empirical studies). But now we have opposite situation – science is considered as the only possible way of understanding the world. To say “unscientific” means to give the most negative assessment. For me unscientific means exactly what it means – out of area of science. It does not mean something negative, it only means that we should use other methods of research.

Science begins when we have ideal object (or model) of some phenomenon (ideal gas is not a real gas). This object must be absolutely unchangeable. Scientific object was the same 1000 years ago and will be the same next 10000 years. Scientific knowledge is a knowledge about unchangeable features of the ideal object. If you change the object then begin to study it from the very beginning. Science tries to find Laws of Nature, or the principles of functioning of the World.

According to this classic definition, economics, sociology, political science and all other “social” sciences are not sciences at all. They have no unchangeable object. Empirical data cannot be universally interpreted.

In my opinion mathematics is a language of relationships, not a science. Chemistry is more an engineering then pure science.

Statistics is a method of searching for regularities, not laws. Regularity cannot give you a picture of future behavior. Law can.

Sorry for long comment.

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By: Emanuel Derman http://blogs.reuters.com/emanuelderman/2011/08/05/sciences-and-nonsciences/#comment-58 Sun, 07 Aug 2011 01:20:06 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/emanuelderman/?p=183#comment-58 My original post was motivated by the endless discussion on Twitter about whether we were likely to be heading into a double dip. All of the argument was statistical, without a reliable theory of what would cause a double dip. It seemed to me that calling people unscientific, when they disagreed with predictions based on a frequentist approach to the small number of previous double dips, was pointless. if people disagree with a more or less proven theory, that’s unscientific. But if they disagree with a theoryless regression, that’s a different story.

I agree with you about computer science: there’s only computer engineering and mathematics.
Probability (as opposed to statistics) I would count as mathematics.

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By: MICRM http://blogs.reuters.com/emanuelderman/2011/08/05/sciences-and-nonsciences/#comment-56 Fri, 05 Aug 2011 18:39:16 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/emanuelderman/?p=183#comment-56 I would say that if you ignore overwhelming statistical or evidence in favor of a scientific theory, and are unwilling to concede that you must posit an alternative theory fitting that evidence (and not contradicted by other evidence), then it is fair to say you’re ignoring the “scientific method,” and that it is what people may often mean when they say someone is ignoring “science.”

A good example are the few scientists who claim to be Christian fundamentalists. They may acknowledge the reality of micro-evolution but reject that macro-evolution resulted in the origin of species. They are rejecting scientific evidence without an alternative theory that holds up to the evidence.

(By the way, acc. to your second footnote, computer science is not a science. That is true. It’s really mathematics.)

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