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Re: WAS-- Re: Hanson 2006, Mortimer, Baeker response

On Fri, Jun 23, 2006 at 04:46:32PM +0000, Phil Bigelow scripsit:
> That sounds like the scientific method to me.  Tell me where I am
> wrong.

Math is under no obligation to correspond to the tangible universe.  [1]

Science is.

That both are required to be independent of any particular person's
understanding doesn't make them the same thing in the face of that
fundamental difference.

Phylogenetic systematics is one way of recognizing that two hundred
specimens, each with two hundred characters is forty thousand individual
facts, far more than anybody's brain can handle directly.

While that acknowledgement -- "my brain doesn't do this much
complicated" -- and the consequent utility of the approach doesn't mean
no one is going to find a better information handling tool for the
purpose, it also doesn't mean that the math involved is science -- the
math works as math; the science comes into it when the real specimens do
-- or that an individual's intuitions are science.  (Intuitions may be
helpful to the conduct of science, but don't -- inherently! -- enjoy
verfiability, falsifiability, or independence from a particular person's
understanding.  Consider the distinction between Newton's works on
optics and his astrological writings.)

So, yeah, Mr. Mortimer has a valid complaint -- if you're going to make
a claim that that could be backed up, not with numbers, but with a
process able to test the likelihood of the claim in a way that's
independent of your personal intuitions, and you don't do that, the
claim isn't properly regarded as scientific.

-- Graydon

[1] Mathematicians have a toast -- "Here's to pure mathematics! May it
never have any use", which is attributed to Godfrey Harold Hardy.  A
science equivalent wouldn't make much sense, would it?