Scientific Thinking LO22025

John Gunkler (
Mon, 28 Jun 1999 09:40:34 -0500

Replying to LO22001 --

Richard, I appreciate your attempts to describe falsification in plainer
words. Thanks.

You ponder: "I wonder if the problem is in the theory or the theorizer?
Of course, they are connected, but I think that a better process would
improve bad theories of this kind. I'm suggestion that when good people
have these weak theories hanging around, it's because they haven't
invested enough in the remaining stages in the process."

So long as people of good will and sense are conversing, I can agree with
you. But, unfortunately, it isn't always the case that people want to be
open to scientific thinking and, especially, to falsification.

Here's a story I've always loved:

William James, the philosopher and psychologist, was on a lecture tour.
After what he felt was a particularly successful talk about the nature of
the forces that keep the earth in its orbit and the planets revolving
around the sun he was approached by a smiling older woman. After thanking
him for his talk she said, "All that is very nice, Mr. James, but I happen
to know that the world rests on the back of a giant tortoise."

James asked, "I see. But madam, on what does the giant tortoise rest?"

She replied, quite assuredly, "On the back of another giant tortoise."

James patiently began, "But madam, ..." at which point the woman politely
interrupted, saying, "Save your breath, Mr. James. It's turtles all the
way down!"


"John Gunkler" <>

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