111

I think part of the problem is: Science doesn't prove anything. Science, at its core, is simply a method of generating testable hypothesis that explain events, which are valued because of their use in predicting future results. Let me give an example. Based on observations, science came up with a theory for an orbital period, correlating orbital speed and ...


88

The slogan different scientists can reach very different conclusions, depending on their starting assumptions. is misleading in the context of the "debate" between evolution and creationism. Scientists aim to explain how the world works. If two scientists disagree about some issue, then at least one of them is wrong. That is, at least one of them has ...


68

The issue here, as it often is, is that colloquial English is horribly ambiguous, which makes any sort of precise and rigorous discussion difficult. But with sufficient effort, it is possible to make claims precisely, and once you do that, the problem disappears. Alice states that the sky is blue. Bob states that we live in a simulation. Let's assume for ...


64

I think the distinction is that people often conflate "negative obervations" with "absence of evidence". To take the Santa example - if you simply declared "I have no evidence that Santa exists, therefore he does not exist", then you would be arguing from an absence of evidence. However, if you said "Santa is said to travel in a flying sleigh, and no radar ...


56

Technically speaking a fallacy is an invalid argument. In practice, what we would expect to see is two people starting from shared premises, and reaching contradictory conclusions, because (at least one) has made a logical error, or fallacy. But in this case, there are no shared premises. This is actually Mr. Black's biggest strategic error. It happens ...


55

There's a fallacy called Holmesian fallacy. A Holmesian fallacy (also Sherlock Holmes fallacy or process of elimination fallacy) is a logical fallacy that occurs when some explanation is believed to be true on the basis that alternate explanations are impossible, yet not all alternate explanations have been ruled out.


53

First, I would say that many supporters of science are too proselytizing, too reluctant to admit the ambiguities and necessary limits of science. This merely harms their own case by opening them up the same skeptical attacks so easily employed against religion. Second, I would observe that science and religion are by no means mutually exclusive. It is only ...


48

First, because they are "inconsequential". Nothing hangs on it for you, there is no need to act on them and accept the consequences also, it is a "cheap", easily swayable "acceptance". But this still leaves the question as to why accept rather than reject, as easily, perhaps at random. Which brings us to the second because: they are not accepted without ...


41

The big picture of current evolutionary theory draws from many different fields, like biology, paleontology, geology, physics (radiometric dating) and chemistry. There is a strong consensus between scientists that the results of their respective fields support the big picture, e.g. evolutionary synthesis is a consensus among biologists. So, while different ...


41

Holmes' advice is correct if and only if you assume a complete search was done to list all possibilities before starting the elimination process. Note that Sherlock Holmes is both incredibly observant, and incredibly arrogant. I would consider it a matter of great writing for Sherlock to arrogantly assume that his superior observation skills somehow make him ...


33

These are simple conclusions from inductive reasoning. I don't like it when I hit my thumb with a hammer. I don't like it when I hit my head on something. Even though I haven't been hit on the head with a hammer, I can assume it would hurt just as much if not more than the other things I've hit my head on. From personal experience and pop culture I know ...


31

Well, if I asked a community of non-experts how to perform key-hole surgery and I also asked a community of doctors, I am more likely to get a better answer from the second group. But of course, these doctors may not be surgeons as so they might plead ignorance. The point is the advice is more likely to be correct. It's a question of probability and not ...


30

Elliot Sober offers a useful argument on this : "Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence" is a slogan that is popular among scientists and nonscientists alike. ... There has been some philosophical work on the motto that doesn't use a probability framework and it provides a good way of isolating the problem I want to address. Here are ...


24

Turn the is vs. ought problem on it head. Science, when it is being most scientific, only provides instrumental oughts; religion, when it is being most religious, provides only moral oughts. Science can tell you that if you want to avoid X degrees of global warming you should (instrumentally) reduce carbon emissions by Y amount; but not whether the harm ...


23

I think the honest answer is best viewed through the teachings of Karl Popper, notably the Falsifiability Criterion, according to which anything scientific has to supply a self refuting empirical criteria. That is, in the absence of an empirical way to test the hypothesis -- upon failure of which the theory is refuted -- the theory in question is hereby not ...


21

Your sceptic must understand what the symbols 1+1 means otherwise he is not justified in claiming that 1+1 is two. For example there are number systems in which there isn't a 1, or certain operations are undefined, or 1+1=0. But one could also imagine that the symbol '1' means a drop of water, and '+' means physical addition, so that 1+1 means add one drop ...


21

Do you only think in words? Personally, I find I often think in images too. And sometimes my thoughts take a shortcut and skip all words and images and just take me straight to the answer? Michael Phelps is famous for thinking in terms of "the perfect race," a thought stream without words describing exactly how he would race from start to finish. There ...


21

One has to keep apart different layers: a) abiogenesis (the emergence of life) vs. evolution (the development of existing life over generations) and b) the incompatibility of biblical accounts of the origin of species with evolution vs. the incompatibility of the belief in God being the creator of life with evolution. I will first answer the title question ...


20

We cannot really prove that there is reality What would it mean to prove reality? Simone Weil, philosopher and younger sister to the famous mathematician Andre Weil (who solved the local Riemann hypothesis) wrote in her Lectures on Philosophy - which are in fact notes compiled by one of her students: One can never really give a proof of the reality of ...


20

No fallacy, two people have stated their opinions The whole issue resolves itself quickly with one small clarification (my addition in boldface) Mr. Black then confronts Mr. Pink one day at lunch, claiming that it is his opinion that all new age magic power b.s. is in-fact, nonsense Mr. Pink then asks in return: "Why does it matter? Why are you so [...


19

Welcome to the demarcation problem of science. What is this thing called science? In lower levels of education, one is often given the impression that 'science', whatever that may be, exists as a monolithic entity. There is no sufficiency and necessity definition of what science is. It's better to say 'sciences' or 'scientific' when speculating as to this ...


19

This question is not answerable. First, we would need “everything” to be well-defined, and arguably, to be useful, the definition would not be self-referential. This being possible while decently approximately preserving our intuition of “everything” is questionable. Secondly, for canonical and the most useful approaches to logic, the idea requires ...


18

“different scientists can reach very different conclusions, depending on their starting assumptions.” This is true so far as it goes, but it stops before the critical step that distinguishes natural science from creationism: scientists then check their conclusions against reality, and reject or change their assumptions if reality and conclusion don't match. ...


18

The Stack Exchange methodology is based on the original Stack Overflow, which is for CS and programming questions. For those types of questions, the answers are objective in the fact that they either solve the OP's problem or they don't. People are free to upvote for the wrong ones, and it does happen occasionally, but overall, there are enough people who ...


18

I recently answered a similar question on physics.SE here. What is special about the probabilities of quantum mechanics is that the randomness cannot be explained by a theory of nature that is both local and realist, while classical probabilities can. Quoting myself: A "local hidden variable" theory is basically the classical idea of how the world ...


17

Attempts to show that God exists by looking at nature such as the Kalam Cosmological Argument can only assert "generic theism", as you rightly point out. If the argument holds, then how does anybody know anything about this god/God? The answer is revelation or prophecy. When theologians talk about revelation, they are talking about ways that God ...


16

It may be a misnomer to say rationalism was created to oppose empiricism, but I see what you are getting at. All rationalism claims, is that some knowledge about the world comes a priori - either innate or by thought alone. This doesn't say all knowledge has to come from thought. So, it is kind of agnostic about the scientific method here. Descartes tried ...


14

A good question. Every machine is fallible, including the human brain; this means that when the human brain comes up with any conclusion, there is always the possibility it made an error and came to the wrong conclusion. Even if the brain in question is your own. Computers can make occasional errors in calculation due to manufacturing defects, cosmic ray ...


12

What you're touching on, of course, is a couple of basic facts about epistemology — and how they impact the activity of proseletysation: the attempt to get someone to believe in an idea (whether religious or secular) which they not only did not know, but did not even concern themselves with, before. The short version is that because original discovery ...


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