Scientific Thinking LO22033

Winfried Dressler (
Mon, 28 Jun 1999 20:09:50 +0100

Replying to LO21993 --

This comment on John Gunklers mail is going to be philosophical again
(compared to my other contribution of today). So just skip it, if you
don't like to spend time on "theoretical" considerations.

>No matter what turns out to be the case in the
>world, the theory will deal with it. This is what is meant by a theory
>that is not falsifiable. And Popper, and others, would throw such a
>theory out as unworthy of consideration.
>Other philosophers of science have used a similar criterion but have
>focused on the idea that to be worthy of scientific consideration a theory
>must have "empirical content." This ends up being much the same idea
>as falsification.


I am rising my voice again to question the obvious.

Years ago I found a definition for "ghost": Something not falsifiable nor
verifiable that still has empirical content.

The claim is that ghosts do exist. They exist by means of their empirical
content. The point is that "theories unworthy of consideration" in the
sense of Popper still can be part of the beliefs of a person who acts
accordingly and such action creates empirical content.

Were it not for its empirical content, why bother about theories unworthy
of consideration, or crap as you call it? One measure for the empirical
content could be the sum of the time all people spend per day on such
ghosts. Quite a lot, I suppose. I think of two other measures: a) The
amount of destructive hurt created by ghosts, b) the amount of
constructive help created by ghosts.

The pragmatist will jump in and state despite Popper the worthyness to
consider such theories, because they work. No chance to collect data which
might falsify the theory, yet it works. In such a case, the opposite
theory works as well.

As in our discussion on pragmatism, we are leaving the realms of
true/false again and entering the realm of ethics or good/bad. (But maybe
we should (!) not consider ethics. What else than ghosts can come out of
it? (grin))

We have entered the battlefield of religion and science.

The problem of science (Popper criterion) is that it is based on religion
(unfalsifiable assumptions).

The problem of religion is that it wants to be based on science.

The symbol for this battle is the uroborus, the snake biting in its own
tail - an ancient symbol for the human condition.

Liebe Gruesse



"Winfried Dressler" <>

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