Michael Stuart Kelly

Scientific Method 101 (in layman's language)

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Joining Steven Weinberg’s 2015 (post #18):

The Invention of Science

A New History of the Scientific Revolution

David Wootton (Harper 2015)

From the back cover:


We live in a world made by science. How and when did this happen? The Invention of Science tells the story of the extraordinary intellectual and cultural revolution that gave birth to modern science, and mounts a major challenge to the prevailing orthodoxy of its history.

Before 1492, all significant knowledge was believed to be already available; there was no concept of progress, as people looked to the past, not the future, for understanding. David Wootton argues that the discovery of America demonstrated that new knowledge was possible: indeed, it introduced the very concept of discovery and opened the way to the invention of science.

The first crucial discovery was Tycho Brahe’s nova of 1572: proof that there could be change in the heavens. The invention of the telescope in 1608 rendered the old astronomy obsolete. Evangelista Torricelli’s experiment with the vacuum in 1643 led directly to the triumph of the experimental method in the Royal Society of Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton. By 1750, Newtonianism was being celebrated throughout Europe.

This new science did not consist simply of new discoveries or methods. It relied on a new understanding of what knowledge may be, and with this came a fresh language: discovery, progress, fact, experiment, hypothesis, theory, laws of nature. Although almost all these terms existed before 1492, their meanings were radically transformed, and they became tools to think scientifically. Now we all speak this language of science that was invented during the Scientific Revolution.

This revolution had its martyrs (Bruno, Galileo), its heroes (Kepler, Boyle), its propagandists (Voltaire, Diderot), and its patient laborers (Gilbert, Hooke). The new culture led to a new rationalism, killing off alchemy, astrology, and the belief in witchcraft. It also led to the invention of the steam engine and to the first Industrial Revolution. Wootton’s landmark work changes our understanding of how this great transformation came about, and of what science is.

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Joining Steven Weinberg’s 2015 (post #18):

The Invention of Science

A New History of the Scientific Revolution

David Wootton (Harper 2015)

From the back cover:

We live in a world made by science. How and when did this happen? The Invention of Science tells the story of the extraordinary intellectual and cultural revolution that gave birth to modern science, and mounts a major challenge to the prevailing orthodoxy of its history.

Before 1492, all significant knowledge was believed to be already available; there was no concept of progress, as people looked to the past, not the future, for understanding. David Wootton argues that the discovery of America demonstrated that new knowledge was possible: indeed, it introduced the very concept of discovery and opened the way to the invention of science.

The first crucial discovery was Tycho Brahe’s nova of 1572: proof that there could be change in the heavens. The invention of the telescope in 1608 rendered the old astronomy obsolete. Evangelista Torricelli’s experiment with the vacuum in 1643 led directly to the triumph of the experimental method in the Royal Society of Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton. By 1750, Newtonianism was being celebrated throughout Europe.

This new science did not consist simply of new discoveries or methods. It relied on a new understanding of what knowledge may be, and with this came a fresh language: discovery, progress, fact, experiment, hypothesis, theory, laws of nature. Although almost all these terms existed before 1492, their meanings were radically transformed, and they became tools to think scientifically. Now we all speak this language of science that was invented during the Scientific Revolution.

This revolution had its martyrs (Bruno, Galileo), its heroes (Kepler, Boyle), its propagandists (Voltaire, Diderot), and its patient laborers (Gilbert, Hooke). The new culture led to a new rationalism, killing off alchemy, astrology, and the belief in witchcraft. It also led to the invention of the steam engine and to the first Industrial Revolution. Wootton’s landmark work changes our understanding of how this great transformation came about, and of what science is.

Newton who invented physics as we know it was among the last of the alchemists and wizards. He was the pivot point between the old understanding and the new understanding.

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What Science Knows: And How It Knows It

James Franklin (2009)

From the publisher:

To scientists, the tsunami of relativism, scepticism, and postmodernism that washed through the humanities in the twentieth century was all water off a duck’s back. Science remained committed to objectivity and continued to deliver remarkable discoveries and improvements in technology.

In What Science Knows, the Australian philosopher and mathematician James Franklin explains in captivating and straightforward prose how science works its magic. He begins with an account of the nature of evidence, where science imitates but extends commonsense and legal reasoning in basing conclusions solidly on inductive reasoning from facts.

After a brief survey of the furniture of the world as science sees it—including causes, laws, dispositions and force fields as well as material things—Franklin describes colorful examples of discoveries in the natural, mathematical, and social sciences and the reasons for believing them. He examines the limits of science, giving special attention both to mysteries that may be solved by science, such as the origin of life, and those that may in principle be beyond the reach of science, such as the meaning of ethics.

What Science Knows will appeal to anyone who wants a sound, readable, and well-paced introduction to the intellectual edifice that is science. On the other hand it will not please the enemies of science, whose willful misunderstandings of scientific method and the relation of evidence to conclusions Franklin mercilessly exposes.

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What Science Knows: And How It Knows It

James Franklin (2009)

From the publisher:

After a brief survey of the furniture of the world as science sees it...

Stephen,

Does the book come with pictures of all this furniture?

And maybe distinguish between inductive and deductive furniture?

Does it mention furniture as, say, a religion sees it?

:smile:

(I realize this was the publisher's mistake... :smile: )

Michael

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I don’t yet have this book. James Franklin* is a Catholic philosopher. By the publisher summary and by the title of the last chapter in the book, I expect he’ll say therein how he positions the methods of science and of mathematics with his religious affirmations. Delighted by his papers and to see his cohorts, the gathering Aristotelian Realist Philosophy of Mathematics, where the book by the Objectivist fellow Robert Knapp is recommended. Perhaps Prof. Franklin’s juxtaposition of our ideal rational disciplines with religious leap goes something like this:

y = loge[(x/m) – (sa)]/r2

yrr = loge[(x/m) – (sa)]

eyrr = (x/m) – (sa)

meyrr = x – msa

merry = x – mas

(Thanks to David Saum for this peculiar insight.)

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