conversação de Inglês nível avançado e acadêmico.
hello, i made this topic to encourage the conversation on academic topics for the ones who want to reach the highest possible level of proficiency and/or are studying for a major test such as IELTS, CAE, CPE, etc.
to start this discussion i would like to bring my contribution to this topic: an article from Lakatos science about science and pseudo-science, hopefully we can read this and both learn a bit more about what is science and pseudo-science and discuss about what the concur and disagree on the article.
Science and Pseudoscience Imre Lakatos
Man’s respect for knowledge is one of his most peculiar characteristics. Knowledge in Latin is scientia, and science came to be the name of the most respectable kind of knowledge. But what distinguishes knowledge from superstition, ideology or pseudoscience? The Catholic Church excommunicated Copernicans, the Communist Party persecuted Mendelians on the ground that their doctrines were pseudoscientific. But then the problem of the demarcation between science and pseudoscience is not merely a problem of armchair philosophy: it is of vital social and political relevance. Many philosophers have tried to solve the problem of demarcation in the following terms: a statement constitutes knowledge if sufficiently many people believe it sufficiently strongly. But the history of thought shows us that many people were totally committed to absurd beliefs. If the strengths of beliefs were a hallmark of knowledge, we should have to rank some tales about demons, angels, devils, and of heaven and hell as knowledge. Scientists, on the other hand, are very sceptical even of their best theories. Newton’s is the most powerful theory science has yet produced, but Newton himself never believed that bodies attract each other at a distance. So no degree of commitment to beliefs makes them knowledge. Indeed, the hallmark of scientific behaviour is a certain scepticism even towards one’s most cherished theories. Blind commitment to a theory is not an intellectual virtue: it is an intellectual crime. Thus a statement may be pseudoscientific even if it is eminently ‘plausible’ and everybody believes in it, and it may be scientifically valuable even if it is unbelievable and nobody believes in it. A theory may even be of supreme scientific value even if no one understands it, let alone believes in it. The cognitive value of a theory has nothing to do with its psychological influence on people’s minds. Belief, commitment, understanding are states of the human mind. But the objective, scientific value of a theory is independent of the human mind which creates it or understands it. Its scientific value depends only on what objective support these conjectures have in facts. As Hume said: If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity, or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames. For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion. But what exactly is ‘experimental’ reasoning? [If we look at the vast seventeenth-century literature on witchcraft, it is full of reports of careful observations and sworn evidence - even of experiments. Glanvill, the house philosopher of the early Royal Society, regarded witchcraft as the paradigm of experimental reasoning. We have to define experimental reasoning before we start Humean book burning.] In scientific reasoning, theories are confronted with facts; and one of the central conditions of scientific reasoning is that theories must be supported by facts. Now how exactly can facts support theory? Several different answers have been proposed. Newton himself thought that he proved his laws from facts. [He was proud of not uttering mere hypotheses: he only published theories proven from facts. In particular,] He claimed that he deduced his laws from the ‘phenomena’ provided by Kepler. But his boast was nonsense, since according to Kepler, planets move in ellipses, but according to Newton’s theory, planets would move in ellipses only if the planets did not disturb each other in their motion. But they do. This is why Newton had to devise a perturbation theory from which it follows that no planet moves in an ellipse. One can today easily demonstrate that there can be no valid derivation of a law of nature from any finite number of facts; but we still keep reading about scientific theories being proved from facts. Why this stubborn resistance to elementary logic?