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View Diary: Breaking: Americans Find Something Else Not To Effing Believe In. (299 comments)

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  •  The "big bang" is not a fact..... (9+ / 0-)'s a theory and that's a fact.

    I predict it will remain a theory forever.

    I'm really pissed off this time

    by suspiciousmind on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 02:58:56 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Perhaps, but then again who knows for sure (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      suspiciousmind, nellgwen, Denver11

      "I decided it is better to scream. Silence is the real crime against humanity." Nadezhda Mandelstam

      by LaFeminista on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:00:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  like evolution and gravity are theories. (13+ / 0-)

      and quantum mechanics...

      Bad terminology makes it no less real.

      •  No, agh, maybe you were being cute (8+ / 0-)

        but evolution is a fact, not a theory; Darwin's notion of "natural selection" as the mechanism by which evolution takes place - that is a theory.  Lamarck had a different theory; biologists these days have more complicated ones built on those earlier ones (like "punctuated equilibrium" or "phyletic gradualism")

        The fact of evolution is easily demonstrable in the rapid evolution of microorganisms, for example, that give us "the flu" every year (evolving the ability to infect human beings, and not only birds, say).  

        Similarly, gravity is a fact, not a theory; Newton offered one theory to explain what gravity 'is' and how it operates (action of gravitational "forces" at a distance), complete with very good equations giving a high degree of predictability that gave his hypothesis the status of a theory. Einstein gave us an even better theory to explain gravity (as curvature of space), with equations far more complicated but also more accurate than Newton's.

        The term 'theory' when used by scientists does NOT have the same meaning that it has in common parlance.  What we commonly call "a theory" is what scientists call a hypothesis - an educated guess.  What a scientist calls 'theory' is "an educated guess supported by a great deal of evidence and generally considered to have a high probability of being correct".  

        People who think "well, 'creationism' and 'evolution' are both 'theories', after all, so why not teach both" are wrong on two levels. First, 'creationism' does not and (likely) never will have the status of a theory in the scientific sense, because it is not testable, not 'falsifiable'.  Second, evolution is a fact, not a theory (see above).

        •  Well, sometimes we become sloppy with language (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pollwatcher, allie4fairness, dcnblues

          For example, 'striving to understand an explanation of gravity' becomes 'striving to understand gravity' which leads to 'gravity' becoming conflated with 'an explanation of gravity'. Same for evolution.

          So, an unambiguous example might be: The photoelectric effect is a fact, and quantum mechanics is a theory that accounts for this fact.

          Photoelectric Effect (Wikipedia)

        •  I say "Evolution is an observale phenomenon" (0+ / 0-)

          Facts are kinda like 'data points' - observable events and 'things' that are part of an over-arching trend but not the entire trend by themselves.  

          E.g.  I can raise 30 generations of house flies and compare the preserved corpses of the first generation with the 30th  - I can make measurements of features and calculate means & standard deviations and statistically analyze whether the differences in populations is significant - that would be a fact.

          -- illegitimi non carborundum

          by BadBoyScientist on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:48:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  typical positivist epistemological confusion ;) (0+ / 0-)

            you are confusing your measurements with the reality you measure.  Set a strobe camera to picture a falling object, and you have a succession of "data points" - would you seriously like to argue that the acceleration of the object toward the ground was not a "fact" but merely an "interpretation" (derived from an 'interpolation' of data points)? That's just begging the question.

            Of course, if you really want to push it then I will say I agree with you: my preferred epistemology is rooted in phenomenology (Gadamer's hermeneutics); in that explanation what we call 'fact' is a kind of convention; all we really have are "interpretations" of varying degrees of probability, and all of which are relative (as in Einstein's universe, or quantum physics).  For you and I, gravity is a fact, and so is evolution - they are realities that shape and limit our existence. For quarks and leptons, not so much.

      •  So, the big bang is real? (0+ / 0-)

        That hasn't been, and never will be, proven.

        As I understand it, the cosmos, as observed by scientists, astronomers, physicists, etc., "appears" to be expanding. They've hypothesized that there must've been a big explosion in the middle to create this expansion and all matter within.....what else could cause that?

        I believe it is far more likely that it will be discovered that the "perception" that the cosmos is expanding is flawed due to a slight error in their calculations due to relativity (the observer moving at some speed relative to target) and, there's actually no expansion at all.

        Space and time is infinite in all directions IMO and that, will never be proven either but, the further we're able to look out, and in, the more we see.....always.

        I'm really pissed off this time

        by suspiciousmind on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:56:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ugh. Just Ugh. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          suspiciousmind, pollwatcher

          That description would get a 'C-' on my tests ... if I were in a good mood.

          There are observables (these are what we usually refer to as facts - but since the word fact carries too many diverse connotations let us avoid using it here) things such as the cosmic microwave background, the large scale structure of the Universe, the cosmological red shift.   Anyone could go out and observe these things.  Further, they are more subtle variations in the cosmological redshift that indicate that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating - we call this 'Dark Energy'

          There are models (such as Big Bang Theory, Inflationary Universe, etc) that explain these observables - we call these 'theories' (well, after they've been tested enough to earn the confidence of the majority of experts).  Theories cannot be proven - by their nature - however the degree of confidence we have continues to grow.  

          Pointing out that some theory can never be proven is really pointing out your own lack of science literacy.  Anyone who is literate in science knows that and has moved on to deeper more inspiring thoughts about science.  

          -- illegitimi non carborundum

          by BadBoyScientist on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:56:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  So's gravity (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GreenMother, Hayate Yagami, kvnvk

      Please don't equate the words "theory" and "guess".  They're very different animals.

    •  The word "theory" has a very definitive... (5+ / 0-)

      ...and concrete meaning in the world of science. Just because non-science people have bastardized the word "theory" to mean any guess that anyone can pull out of their ass doesn't mean that the word "theory" when used in a scientific context loses its more definitive meaning.

    •  Actually, it is a theoretical construct and is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      suspiciousmind, kvnvk

      constantly being revised as new evidence pours in.
         The BICEP data tends to confirm the "inflation" version of the Big Bang, which was necessary because the original "Big Bang theory" did not match the available data.
         You're right, it will always be theory.

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