Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 12
Like Tree43Likes

Thread: Methods: testing an idea

  1. #1
    not_Fritz_Argelander's Avatar
    not_Fritz_Argelander is online now HYPER GIANT
    Points: 123,561, Level: 100
    Level completed: 0%, Points required for next Level: 0
    Overall activity: 99.5%
    Achievements:
    365 Days+ Registered Achievement!2 Posts Achievement20 Posts Achievement!750 Days+ Registered Achievement!First 1000 Experience Points
    Awards:
    Most Threads Award
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    US
    Posts
    14,366
    Points
    123,561
    Level
    100
    Thanks
    6,432
    Thanked 34,712x 10,614 Posts
    Blog Entries
    32
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Default Methods: testing an idea



    I'm a little concerned about events where folks seem to take discussion about models personally. I think that partly this is because we are conditioned by popular culture to make black white distinctions and not consider shades of gray. So folks are conditioned to assume that when a discussion of the limitations of a model or solution method happens that it implies that the model or solution are completely wrong. Then folks get testy or provocative. Maybe it would help if I shared how I think about proposed solutions? This is a process I use to criticize my own ideas. Hopefully sharing it will decrease sensitivities.

    Once an idea is proposed:

    1) The first thing to do is subject it to a "smell test". Does the idea or solution permit energy, momentum and angular momentum to be conserved? If so OK, if not it can be discarded as wrong. Also check and make sure it allows entropy to remain constant or increase for closed systems. Betting against the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is IMO the worst bet one can make in physics. It's safer to bet against Newtonian dynamics or General Relativity.

    2) If the idea passes the smell test, criticize it so that the limits of its validity become clear. What implicit approximations does it make? When does it break down? The fact that it does break down doesn't make the approximation completely useless or wrong. It just means that you understand the conditions under which you shouldn't try to use the idea. By trying to understand a problem so that you know what a "better" solution would look like, one can be comfortable about how valid the simpler approach is, what it's limits are. Always take a solution method or idea one step farther than necessary so you can appreciate it's limitations. That way you understand how your idea might be "good enough" but not make the mistake of accepting "good enough" for "absolutely right".

    3) "Absolutely right" never happens. Not even in math. There are cases when 1 + 1 does not = 2.
    astroval, OleCuss, chas53 and 3 others like this.

  2. The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to not_Fritz_Argelander For This Useful Post:

    astroval (01-18-2014),chas53 (01-16-2014),j.gardavsky (01-16-2014),KathyNS (01-16-2014),kencrowder (01-16-2014),Seeker725 (01-16-2014)

  3. #2
    kencrowder's Avatar
    kencrowder is offline HYPER GIANT
    Points: 24,468, Level: 100
    Level completed: 0%, Points required for next Level: 0
    Overall activity: 0%
    Achievements:
    200+ Posts Achievement!400+ Posts AchievementFirst 1000 Experience PointsGhost Achievement! Averaging 5+ posts a day!50 Posts Achievement!
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Brea, CA
    Posts
    2,483
    Points
    24,468
    Level
    100
    Thanks
    3,833
    Thanked 3,285x 1,517 Posts
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Default Re: Methods: testing an idea

    While I agree with you, it is a consequence of years of my being taught to think that way. There are very few disciplines that demand such skepticism. More often the one who is most adept at debate will carry the scepter. In physics we are trained to test any speculation against theory that is considered probably reliable as a consequence of decades of testing. And "probably reliable" is the highest accolade we can award any theory.

    The eagerness of journalism to report new "findings" and the need to get public support for funding often masks the science. I'm often amused when reading a paper that a "commercial" appears in the conclusions just to appease the funding source.

    I suspect there are very few beginners that can appreciate the statement, "no theory can be proven true but one test may prove it false."

  4. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to kencrowder For This Useful Post:

    astroval (01-18-2014),chas53 (01-16-2014),not_Fritz_Argelander (01-16-2014),Seeker725 (01-16-2014)

  5. #3
    not_Fritz_Argelander's Avatar
    not_Fritz_Argelander is online now HYPER GIANT
    Points: 123,561, Level: 100
    Level completed: 0%, Points required for next Level: 0
    Overall activity: 99.5%
    Achievements:
    365 Days+ Registered Achievement!2 Posts Achievement20 Posts Achievement!750 Days+ Registered Achievement!First 1000 Experience Points
    Awards:
    Most Threads Award
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    US
    Posts
    14,366
    Points
    123,561
    Level
    100
    Thanks
    6,432
    Thanked 34,712x 10,614 Posts
    Blog Entries
    32
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Default Re: Methods: testing an idea

    Agreed. There may be a scientific reason for the following:

    Quote Originally Posted by kencrowder View Post
    I suspect there are very few beginners that can appreciate the statement, "no theory can be proven true but one test may prove it false."
    We have a hard time tolerating uncertainty. We'd rather have a simple answer than a nuanced one. To some extent scientific thinking as a whole (not just in astrophysics) runs counter to how we evolved as a species.

    This blog The certainty of uncertainty | quantum shifting has an interesting speculation:

    As Thayer et al write, there is “an evolutionary advantage associated with the assumption of threat” and that our “‘default’ response to uncertainty, novelty, and threat is the sympathoexcitatory preparation for action commonly known as the fight or flight response”. Essentially, because we have inherited a certain vigilance to our environment, when faced with uncertainty, we unconsciously prepare for the worst. While useful for survival if we are about to be attacked by a lion, it’s hardly the most progressive state to be in if we want to thrive. This goes for businesses living in uncertain times as well as individuals.
    Please note I do not subscribe to the political views in the blog above. I am quoting it only for the physiology of uncertainty bit.

    The Thayer et. al. reference is here: http://wagerlab.colorado.edu/files/p...pfc.NBR.12.pdf

    Our brains are hard wired to crave the illusion of certainty. That is what must be overcome to be able to think about science in general or astrophysics in particular.
    astroval, chas53 and kencrowder like this.

  6. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to not_Fritz_Argelander For This Useful Post:

    astroval (01-18-2014),chas53 (01-17-2014),j.gardavsky (01-16-2014),kencrowder (01-16-2014)

  7. #4
    kencrowder's Avatar
    kencrowder is offline HYPER GIANT
    Points: 24,468, Level: 100
    Level completed: 0%, Points required for next Level: 0
    Overall activity: 0%
    Achievements:
    200+ Posts Achievement!400+ Posts AchievementFirst 1000 Experience PointsGhost Achievement! Averaging 5+ posts a day!50 Posts Achievement!
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Brea, CA
    Posts
    2,483
    Points
    24,468
    Level
    100
    Thanks
    3,833
    Thanked 3,285x 1,517 Posts
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Default Re: Methods: testing an idea

    Quote Originally Posted by not_Fritz_Argelander View Post
    Agreed. There may be a scientific reason for the following:



    We have a hard time tolerating uncertainty. We'd rather have a simple answer than a nuanced one. To some extent scientific thinking as a whole (not just in astrophysics) runs counter to how we evolved as a species.

    Our brains are hard wired to crave the illusion of certainty. That is what must be overcome to be able to think about science in general or astrophysics in particular.
    IMO, uncertainty is wired to be associated with fear and that triggers "flight or fight." That could be the cause of the response you are concerned about. We are wired to overcome fear due to uncertainty by defending our beliefs. I applaud beginners willing to make the effort to make an exception for the sake of physics.

  8. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to kencrowder For This Useful Post:

    astroval (01-18-2014),chas53 (01-17-2014),not_Fritz_Argelander (01-16-2014)

  9. #5
    OleCuss's Avatar
    OleCuss is offline Curmudgeon Moderator
    Points: 54,858, Level: 100
    Level completed: 0%, Points required for next Level: 0
    Overall activity: 16.0%
    Achievements:
    200+ Posts Achievement!First 1000 Experience Points400+ Posts Achievement365 Days+ Registered Achievement!Got three Friends
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Central California, USA
    Posts
    11,191
    Points
    54,858
    Level
    100
    Thanks
    2,041
    Thanked 5,005x 3,326 Posts
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Default Re: Methods: testing an idea

    Maybe it is useful to remember that frequently with uncertainty there is opportunity?

    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 5 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

    Orion XX12G and XT8; 10 inch LX200GPS; Celestron NexStar 8SE; Tele Vue NP-101is (Petzval apochromat); Meade LS-8; WO GT-71; AVX and Losmandy G-11 mounts.

  10. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to OleCuss For This Useful Post:

    astroval (01-18-2014),chas53 (01-18-2014),not_Fritz_Argelander (01-17-2014)

  11. #6
    not_Fritz_Argelander's Avatar
    not_Fritz_Argelander is online now HYPER GIANT
    Points: 123,561, Level: 100
    Level completed: 0%, Points required for next Level: 0
    Overall activity: 99.5%
    Achievements:
    365 Days+ Registered Achievement!2 Posts Achievement20 Posts Achievement!750 Days+ Registered Achievement!First 1000 Experience Points
    Awards:
    Most Threads Award
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    US
    Posts
    14,366
    Points
    123,561
    Level
    100
    Thanks
    6,432
    Thanked 34,712x 10,614 Posts
    Blog Entries
    32
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Default Re: Methods: testing an idea

    Quote Originally Posted by OleCuss View Post
    Maybe it is useful to remember that frequently with uncertainty there is opportunity?
    If only folks could feel that in their guts, scientific illiteracy would diminish greatly. Sound bites would lose their charm.
    chas53 and kencrowder like this.

  12. The Following User Says Thank You to not_Fritz_Argelander For This Useful Post:

    chas53 (01-18-2014)

  13. #7
    astroval's Avatar
    astroval is offline SUPER GIANT
    Points: 151,997, Level: 100
    Level completed: 0%, Points required for next Level: 0
    Overall activity: 2.0%
    Achievements:
    200+ Posts Achievement!First 1000 Experience PointsGot three Friends20+ Friends Achievement!365 Days+ Registered Achievement!
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    NY, NY
    Posts
    1,333
    Points
    151,997
    Level
    100
    Thanks
    2,236
    Thanked 1,515x 735 Posts
    Blog Entries
    10
    Downloads
    3
    Uploads
    0

    Default Re: Methods: testing an idea

    There are two interesting blog articles of Sean Carroll about "Which scientific ideas should be retired?"

    Falsifiability needs to be retired
    and What Scientific Ideas Are Ready for Retirement? It will be interesting any comments about it with point of view of testing an idea.

    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 5 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 5 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    Telescope: Celestron NexStar 4SE, Coronado Solarmax II 60
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 5 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    Digital Cameras: Canon 60Da and 40D. CCD: NexImage
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 5 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    EPs: Celestron Eyepiece & Filter Accessory Kit - 1.25", T-Adapter with Barlow Universal, Other: Bahtinov focus mask
    Software: Registax 6, Stellarium, PhotoShop, Deep Sky Stacker, AMCap

    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 5 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    my backyard videos about astrophotography

    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 5 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    astrophotos
    http://astro-photos.blogspot.com/ - Astrophotography blog

  14. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to astroval For This Useful Post:

    chas53 (01-19-2014),not_Fritz_Argelander (01-18-2014)

  15. #8
    not_Fritz_Argelander's Avatar
    not_Fritz_Argelander is online now HYPER GIANT
    Points: 123,561, Level: 100
    Level completed: 0%, Points required for next Level: 0
    Overall activity: 99.5%
    Achievements:
    365 Days+ Registered Achievement!2 Posts Achievement20 Posts Achievement!750 Days+ Registered Achievement!First 1000 Experience Points
    Awards:
    Most Threads Award
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    US
    Posts
    14,366
    Points
    123,561
    Level
    100
    Thanks
    6,432
    Thanked 34,712x 10,614 Posts
    Blog Entries
    32
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Default Re: Methods: testing an idea

    Quote Originally Posted by astroval View Post
    There are two interesting blog articles of Sean Carroll about "Which scientific ideas should be retired?"

    Falsifiability needs to be retired
    and What Scientific Ideas Are Ready for Retirement? It will be interesting any comments about it with point of view of testing an idea.
    It is an interesting and provocative idea, that falsifiability should be discarded from science.

    It is also utterly mistaken.

    Falsifiability, the possibility that an idea or theory can be tested and contradicted in an objective and reproducible way is precisely what distinguished science from mythologies or artistic products.

    The article claims that some ideas are more central to science: empirical and definite prediction. But I would say that music is also empirical. We hear it. It also can be quite definite. Pieces can be notated and performed. Interpretations can differ, but only in nuance.

    Falsifiability is precisely what distinguishes science from other endeavors.

    Mythologies can't be falsified. All of the religions make empirical sense of the world in terms of the agencies of natural or supernatural forces. But mythologies and religions are not falsifiable.

    I find that the dismissal of "falsifiability" as being something of importance only to "armchair philosophizing" is quite a wrongheaded piece of armchair philosophizing itself.

    One might somewhat cynically speculate that the "anti falsifiability" faction is promoting that agenda because doing the experiments that can provide falsification of ideas is becoming more and more expensive. There is a heavy burden on theorists these days to come up testable theories. It is becoming increasingly hard. I'm sure that some would rather pretend that spinning a mathematical mythology that isn't testable is still doing science.

    I don't believe it is. I think it's an indolent cop out. Falsifiability requires you risk being wrong. Newton, Einstein, Schroedinger, Heisenberg all risked being wrong. If you can't risk being wrong, you're not a scientist. IMO.

  16. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to not_Fritz_Argelander For This Useful Post:

    astroval (01-18-2014),chas53 (01-19-2014),jerryTheC (01-18-2014),kencrowder (01-18-2014)

  17. #9
    jerryTheC's Avatar
    jerryTheC is offline Super Moderator
    Points: 24,854, Level: 100
    Level completed: 0%, Points required for next Level: 0
    Overall activity: 5.0%
    Achievements:
    365 Days+ Registered Achievement!50 Posts Achievement!5 Threads Achievement!200+ Posts Achievement!First 1000 Experience Points
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Harrow, UK
    Posts
    5,763
    Points
    24,854
    Level
    100
    Thanks
    326
    Thanked 1,831x 1,563 Posts
    Downloads
    1
    Uploads
    0

    Default

    Interesting - doesn't the ability to make definite predictions imply falsifiability? If the prediction gets the wrong result, then the theory is wrong (or incomplete). If it consistently gets the right result then it's useful (but may still be wrong). Or am I missing something?
    astroval, KathyNS, chas53 and 3 others like this.

  18. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to jerryTheC For This Useful Post:

    astroval (01-18-2014),chas53 (01-19-2014),kencrowder (01-18-2014),not_Fritz_Argelander (01-18-2014)

  19. #10
    not_Fritz_Argelander's Avatar
    not_Fritz_Argelander is online now HYPER GIANT
    Points: 123,561, Level: 100
    Level completed: 0%, Points required for next Level: 0
    Overall activity: 99.5%
    Achievements:
    365 Days+ Registered Achievement!2 Posts Achievement20 Posts Achievement!750 Days+ Registered Achievement!First 1000 Experience Points
    Awards:
    Most Threads Award
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    US
    Posts
    14,366
    Points
    123,561
    Level
    100
    Thanks
    6,432
    Thanked 34,712x 10,614 Posts
    Blog Entries
    32
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Default Re: Methods: testing an idea

    Quote Originally Posted by jerryTheC View Post
    Interesting - doesn't the ability to make definite predictions imply falsifiability? If the prediction gets the wrong result, then the theory is wrong (or incomplete). If it consistently gets the right result then it's useful (but may still be wrong). Or am I missing something?
    I don't think you are missing anything, of course. I think that the reasons for retreating from 'falsifiability' are emotional and unfortunate.

    Think of the current many competing string theories for unifying all of physics. It is a beautiful arena for mathematical play. So far it has been practically impossible to come up with tests for them. Some folks have suggested that because there is no practical way to falsify that they aren't science, rather they are a branch of philosophy or theology. If you are a string theorist you may prefer to play in your mathematical garden and ignore the need to test the theory. (Personally I hope that some clever person will come up with low energy lower cost observational tests. as long as there is hope of falsification I'd hold out for string theory being science.)

    There are also folks who want to "rig the books" so that physics is always right. If you forget about falsifiability then the tests of General Relativity don't falsify Newtonian theory.

    No. Science finds improved versions of "what is the truth" by daring to be wrong and being comfortable with that.
    astroval, chas53 and kencrowder like this.

  20. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to not_Fritz_Argelander For This Useful Post:

    astroval (01-18-2014),chas53 (01-19-2014),jerryTheC (01-19-2014),kencrowder (01-18-2014)

 

 
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Alt/Az Methods XT8 Dob
    By ntimid8tor in forum Astronomy Beginners Forum
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 02-13-2012, 03:22 PM
  2. M20 Trifid and some changes in my methods
    By ghswen in forum Astronomy Digital Cameras Forum
    Replies: 21
    Last Post: 07-27-2011, 09:04 AM
  3. New methods of comet hunting?
    By Chuck Scappaticci in forum Amateur Astronomy Forum
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 09-06-2003, 11:51 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Powered by vBulletin® Version 4.2.0
Powered by vBulletin®
All times are GMT. The time now is 09:44 PM.