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Rosetta Stone
4th March 2003, 04:03 PM
"To the things themselves"

I'd like to ask - as a concrete entity (as a stone, dig? Dig? that's a joke) - if an idea produces true results, can we consider it to be true, at least provisionally? And if it produces false results, can we consider it false, provisionally?

If something's been shown to be false, you'd think that carried more weight than if something's been shown to be true.

As in - "all crows are black" - if you find one albino crow, you lose. But for every black crow, you pile up evidence.

What should we do with statements that we have no way to verify - true, false, or undetermined, like "time has a beginning and an end", what do we do with that one? Does it really have any meaning?

4th March 2003, 04:13 PM
Good thread! IMO, such unanswered question (until answered) have only the meaning we assign to them as individuals.

4th March 2003, 05:06 PM
We can use assumptions about such statements to consider other things - if statement 1 is true (amd we have no way of knowing) then statement 2 is true as well. Examining these additional statements might prove useful in some context.

Yahzi
4th March 2003, 07:14 PM
I don't object to people having opinions.

As long as they don't pretend they are facts.

Shroud of Akron
4th March 2003, 08:48 PM
aren't all things we know to be true, only that way until we prove them otherwise? i don't think much of anything can be stated as 100% true for eternity. we go with the accepted truth until a stronger truth replaces it, or we find a way to modify a truth to make it more accurate.

Rosetta Stone
5th March 2003, 04:49 AM
I was thinking along these lines -

Say you showed Ptolemy a diagram of Sputnik's orbit. He'd probably be able to give you a good explanation of it although not be able to say how it got up there and what might make the orbit decay. Sputnik might be a confirming instance of the theories of Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton, within the degrees of precision available to them.

Voyager would I think be totally beyond the first two, but Kepler could probably give a decent account of its behavior around the planets. I don't think he could explain Apollo. For that you'd need Newton.

If you go into some fuzzier area like economics, what consitutes a good confirmation of something like Say's Law (sometimes stated as "supply creates its own demand), or Gresham's Law ("bad money drives out good")? We can see how large-scale behaviors of markets seems to support this, and mathematical modeling provides some further support.

As you branch out into other areas you run into ideas like the Peter Principle ("people rise their level of incompetence") and Parkinson's Law ("work expands to fill the time allotted for it/Data expands to fill the available storage").

At what point does an observation about the behavior of a system start to acquire the status of a law?

Akots
5th March 2003, 05:52 AM
Originally posted by Yahzi
I don't object to people having opinions.

As long as they don't pretend they are facts.

That's a very interesting opinion, Yahzi! :)