If I were to postulate that something was true with no basis, would it be inherently unscientific, regardless of its validity? For example, if I were to say that the universe is supernatural, and it turns out that it is, would this statement be inherently unscientific? Is there any theory / school of thought that states this or backs it up?

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    Yes, a simple asserted statement can be true but not grounded in any scientific theory. Commented Feb 29 at 14:44
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    When you say 'valid' do you mean TRUE?
    – TKoL
    Commented Feb 29 at 16:28
  • This question (Is the scientific nature of a result independent from whether if it is valid? Is there any doctrine / phil framework that says so?) is incomprehensible because of very poor English. (Note: There's no flag for this case, which is not an uncommon one. That's why I have used this space to "report" it. Maybe some administrator/moderator will read this and propose to add such a flag.)
    – Apostolos
    Commented Feb 29 at 16:32
  • Bare claims are not "inherently scientific" or otherwise, one needs to present testable consequences in addition to them. And it is testability that determines whether something is "scientific" or not, not the truth of claims, see SEP, Confirmation:"Being capable of receiving genuine support from empirical evidence is itself a very distinctive trait of scientific hypotheses as compared to other kinds of statements".
    – Conifold
    Commented Mar 1 at 0:14
  • This is a category error; statements cannot be scientific, but methods can be scientific. You might be thinking of whether a statement is empirical; your example statement is not empirical, because the universe is not wholly observable.
    – Corbin
    Commented Mar 1 at 8:53

5 Answers 5


One view of "scientific" is Karl Popper's notion of falsifiability, where you could say your postulate is "scientific" if it is falsifiable, i.e. can be contradicted by empirical test. (This is not the only view about the philosophy of science, but it is relatively straightforward.)

So "the universe is supernatural" is like Russell's teapot in being unfalsifiable, because no amount of evidence you could present could exclude the possibility of the universe being supernatural beyond our observations. On the other hand, "the universe is not supernatural" is falsifiable because empirical evidence of a supernatural occurrence would contradict the statement (or our background assumptions about the universe; see Duhem–Quine problem). "The earth is flat" is also a scientific hypothesis, because you can present evidence against it.

  • Exactly! +1 There have been several examples in the past of hypotheses and theories that were scientific, but turned out to be wrong.
    – j4nd3r53n
    Commented Mar 1 at 9:18

To distinguish:

  • Result about nature: Examples are the properties of the gravitational force, the information content of genes, the chemical formula H2O for water,…
    On the other hand the distibution of primes is not a result about nature, but a result about the mathematical concept of numbers and divisibility. Also Plato’s theory of forms is not a result about nature.

  • Scientific method: The scientific method is characterized by posing a clear problem, developing suitable concepts as the tools to handle the problem, developing a solution, and checking of the result. Depending on the outcome of the check the loop will be possibly repeated again.
    The scientific method serves to investigate nature. It is not applied in disciplines like theology.

As Mauro answered, an answer can be true just by guessing, without applying any other method. But even when the result is true, there remains the problem of verification. For the confirmation or falsification of results about nature one often has to apply the scientific method.


I'm going to assume that when you say 'valid', you mean 'true' given the rest of the words you wrote, not in the title.

I would say that yes, ideas can be unscientific AND be true. If someone comes up with an idea but does so in a way that is completely divorced from any of the many "scientific methods", they could be right and be unscientific.

Being scientific doesn't make an idea true, being unscientific doesn't make an idea false - BUT being scientific is clearly and unambiguously correlated with being less wrong than people who do not try to be scientific - at least in the realms of inquiry science has proven itself effective in, like medicine.

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    "Being scientific is demonstrably better than being unscientific, in those realms where science has been demonstrated as effective." An excellent point, in spite of being a bit tautological.
    – jecado
    Commented Mar 1 at 3:54

It depends on what you mean by 'with no basis'. If you mean the you postulate something entirely at random, and it turns out to be true, then your postulation of it will be unscientific. Guessing, by itself, is not science.

  • Depends on your definition of "unscientific". If "scientific" means "falsifiable" like in Popper's theory of science, then your random guess could be considered scientific, independent of how you arrived at the guess.
    – qwr
    Commented Mar 1 at 5:50
  • @qwr my answer assumes you make a guess 'entirely at random'. If you suppose something, based on scientific insight, judgement and experience, that's not a random guess. Commented Mar 1 at 6:24
  • Yes, but it is worth elaborating on what you consider scientific. Is it applying inductive logic with the scientific method?
    – qwr
    Commented Mar 1 at 13:48

The application rules of group theory to particle physics are certainly scientific. When we try modeling the particle universe with the group SU(5) we obtain a scientific prediction that the proton will decay with a certain half-life. When scientifically tested (by experiments), that prediction was found to be false. So, it is possible for an idea to be scientific, yet wrong.

Ideas that are nonfalsifiable are usually considered unscientific.


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