Even though nobody asked, I thought that people might like to know a little bit about my philosophy of science. I suppose you could say that am an Idealist, a believer in the purist, high minded ideas of Karl Popper and the idea that science is about (gosh) testing hypotheses. Thinking of it like a sentence “Scientists test hypotheses” you need the subject (a hypothesis which makes predictions which can be checked against observations/experiments), the verb (having a hypothesis is one thing, science needs actually testing of it), and of course the subject is also crucial (someone actually has to formulate the hypotheses, and do the actual testing. But I don’t think this is really enough to describe the way I view science. No, I think that there is more to it than that, because a crucial element is missing. With very few exceptions, the only way to talk about testing hypotheses is if their predictions are “measurable”. You cannot hope to test do science without mathematics, and given the limitations mere mortals often face when it comes to establishing unequivocal certainty, you almost certainly will need statistics. I guess what I am saying is that at least this element of my view of science was best expressed by Lord Kelvin, and also by the computer scientist John McCarthy:

All Science Is Numbers.~Lord Kelvin

He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense.~John McCarthy

For readers: what do you think defines science as an idea, as a practice, as way of learning about the universe?


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