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Re: Disparaging Popper

<<But if that's true,then in fact no scientific theory can refute or preclude 
the accuracy of any
alternative theory.  >>

Not really.  Accuracy is not the issue.  Indeed, I would submit that 
Copernicus' heliocentrism -- which is not correct pace Einstein -- is more 
accurate than Ptolemy's Geocentrism.  But it is just not ABSOLUTELY true.  We 
may someday stumble onto absolute truth, but the methodologies available to 
science do not allow us to declare such a thing with ABSOLUTE certainty.  All 
scientific conclusions are tentative, but we can still determine a hierarchy 
of probability among competing theories.

<<The whole point of science is to provide a trustworthy guide to the future, 
not a series of hopeful guesses. >>

Sez who?  The reviewer?  Sorry mate, but that is precisely what Popper et al 
have been trying to say.  

I know.  Scientific pundits want to believe that they have absolute truth on 
their side.  But that is because they want to compete with alternative 
worldviews such as Christian theism, Islam, or Scientology which do claim to 
be able to determine absolute truth.  Whether or not such alternative 
worldviews can substantiate their claims is immaterial.  Science is limited 
by its methodologies and cannot make any such claims.  Sorry.

<<Someone arguing that 'truth' is tentative and subjective and socially 
derived would not be inconvenienced by a confidence-based approach, no?>>

Truth is truth.  It is an arrogant thing which just is what it is.  It can 
never be tentative or subjective.  Scientific theories on the other hand are 
not "true" in the metaphysical sense that you seem to want them to be.  While 
you and I may believe some scientific theories to be truer than others such 
opinions are merely conjectures on our part and as scientists we need to keep 
questioning our beliefs in order to remain confident of them.  This is not a 
flaw in science (pace the Creationist pundits) but its greatest strength.  We 
are obligated to improve our theories, look for more evidence, admit our 
mistakes, and correct them.  Don't ask for more than that.  It is a serious 
intellectual trap and it reduces science to pseudoscience.

Art Sippo MD