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Re: Just So stories and science

William Olewiler (WOlewiler@aol.com) writes:

>     A while back there was a discussion about "just so" stories and their 
> place in scientific discourse and reasoning.

[ ... ]

> On page 222 [of "Schrodinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality.",
> John Gribbin] writes, " . . . All scientific models are simply
> Kiplingesque 'just so' stories that give us a feeling that we
> understand what is going on, without necessarily incorporating any
> ultimate answers about the universe."

It appears that Gribbin is discussing the fact that we cannot achieve
metaphysical certainty -- a point that Ralph Chapman brought up in our
previous discussion.  The usage of "just so story" is different in the
above-quoted pasage than it was when it was bandied about on this list
two (?) months ago.  The issue at hand here was whether or not
hypotheses about behavior and evolution of extinct animals can be
tested.  It was stated that such hypotheses could not be tested and
hence were merely "just so stories".  The major issue which I will
reiterate again was that we *can and do* formulate testable hypotheses
about behavior and evolution of extinct animals.  Not all hypotheses
are immediately testable, but some most assuredly are, and hence are
not "just so stories" as the phrase was used here before.  They are
still "just so stories" in the sense Gribbin writes above.  I hope
this is clear to everyone.

Mickey Rowe     (rowe@psych.ucsb.edu)