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From: Derek Bell <dbell@maths.tcd.ie>
Subject: Re: (urth) Science, Her Methods
Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998 20:25:21 +0100

In message <199810140046.RAA10914@lists1.best.com>, m.driussi@genie.com writes:
>Re: Science, scientists, and the Scientific Method.  I thought that
>Science proceeded by way of cutting edge experiments; said
>experiments derived from hyptotheses (by definition based upon
>guesses), and by definition these experiments are "successful" less
>than one hundred percent of the time.  In fact, the failures usually
>=outnumber= the successes.  In any event, it is a =guessing= game.

	The interesting parts are how experiments relate to existing
knowledge, how that knowledge is constituted and what role it plays in
determining what research should be done. Sometimes old experiments
are examined again and performed again - about 12 years ago there was
some interest in data produced by the Hungarian physicist Eotvos
earlier this century. The measurements seemed to be all slightly to one side of
the expected value, so some physicists in Australia performed the
experiments with more sensitive equipment. From what I remember in _New
Scientist_, the results agreed with the standard results, so Eotvos'
equipment may have been slightly off or maybe the errors were all to
one side by chance.

	A good introduction to philosophy of science is Alan F. Chalmers'
_What is this thing called Science?_ He discusses various philosophies
of science, their strengths and weaknesses and also suggests one of
his own. The book has references at the end of most chapters for those
who want to read further. He addresses inductivism, Kuhn's theory of
paradigms, Popper's anarchistic theory of science and Imre Lakatos'
theories. The Open University in the UK uses it as a textbook.

	Apologies for this digression!


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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