[ExI] Alcock on Bem in Skeptical Inquirer.
thespike at satx.rr.com
Tue Dec 7 00:58:35 UTC 2010
On 12/6/2010 5:30 PM, Stefano Vaj wrote:
[John K Clark:]
> Bullshit. The goal should be to find if proton decay exists, not to
> prove that it does. If you start out with the absolute certainty
> that proton decay exists then your only task is to find a formal
> proof of it so you can convince others. If you don't find proton
> decay in your experiments and its a metaphysical certitude that its
> there then the only logical conclusion is that there must be
> something wrong with the experiment, so you keep changing it until
> you find something that corresponds with your prejudice and makes
> you happy. That is not the way to do science but as I've said before
> if you want to find something that doesn't exist then a crappy
> experimenter will be much more successful than a good one.
> This sounds very naive.
John is surprisingly naive about science. I suspect that this is because
he's an engineer, trained to apply what is known to be the case, to get
the job done.
> The usual way of doing science is to pick a
> hypothesis, because you have dreamt of it, or satisfy your aesthetical
> sense, or simply is yours and nobody ever thought about it, and try to
> confirm it.
Well, confirming doesn't work either, as Popper showed. I'm enough of a
falsificationist to think that what you should try to do is find a bunch
of ways to disconfirm your idea, test them, and if your good guess
doesn't get disconfirmed accept it (provisionally) until you or someone
else comes up with a better, more comprehensive, more powerful idea that
doesn't also *unexplain* findings already pretty well corroborated by
What's interesting about John's approach to Professor Bem's recent work
is that he adamantly refuses to take issue with Bem's careful reply to
his critic Alcock, but is happy to accept Alcock's botched criticism *ex
cathedra*. Why is this? It's because...
If you start out with the absolute certainty that psi does not exist
then your only task is to deny its existence, hoping you can convince
others without either evidence or formal proof. If someone finds psi in
experiments but you have a metaphysical certainty that it's not there
then the only logical conclusion is that there must be something wrong
with the experiment, so you keep looking for ever more absurd loopholes
and objections until you contrive something that corresponds with your
prejudice and makes you happy.
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