[ExI] What can be said to be "wrong", and what is "Truth"
thespike at satx.rr.com
Mon Oct 13 20:29:14 UTC 2008
At 12:54 PM 10/13/2008 -0700, Jef wrote:
>In the bigger picture, pragmatic predictive success
>has never been about knowing what's correct, but about knowing more
>and more what's unlikely to be correct.
This is a nicely phrased falsificationist perspective. Perhaps one
ought to add: unlikely to be correct *of any models so far considered
and tested with some degree of precision*. It's a while since I read
Imre Lakatos, but I think his competing research programs version of
Popper might go like that.
And I suppose "correct" means "comparatively effective or fruitful
for current focal purposes, without screwing up too much else off in
the penumbra." That is, in Asimov's striking phrase, it doesn't
unexplain more than it newly explains.
And then--O Lord, can't we ever stop, just sit down and rest for a
moment?--"unlikely to be correct" *as currently formulated*. First it
was waves, then it was particles, then it was waves again, then
particles and waves, or wavy strings, or neither but something that
can be handled heuristically with a blend of those simplifications, etc etc.
My own little bug creeps out blinking into the light: if and when a
powerful theory emerges (in physics or psychophysics) that not only
permits some "anomalous paranormal effects" but really hints strongly
that they ought to exist, then psi, for a long time seen as "unlikely
to be correct," might pop up as a prediction/retrodiction. Then all
the good empirical work compiled by the allegedly crackpot heretics
will fit into place, and the trash will remain with the woo-woo
mystagogues and priests--and good riddance.
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