[ExI] What can be said to be "wrong", and what is "Truth"

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Mon Oct 13 21:39:54 UTC 2008

On Mon, Oct 13, 2008 at 1:29 PM, Damien Broderick <thespike at satx.rr.com> wrote:
> 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*.

Yes, sometimes "increasingly coherent over increasing context" is
elided as a gesture of sensitivity to the Dear Reader.  ;-)

> It's a while since I read Imre Lakatos, but I
> think his competing research programs version of Popper might go like that.

Very similar, I suppose.

> 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.

Yes, lest we ignore the importance of context.

> 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.

Yes, supporting my central point that "the truth" is growing, rather
than converging.

> 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.

Well, then looking forward to that strong hint.

- Jef

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