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Comment Re:Theory or fact? (Score 1) 672

I don't think it is fair to accuse me of being disingenuous - while it is true that I don't agree with evolution I would like to see an honest and open dialog in which people can present facts as facts, theories as theories and be free to disagree with theories until they are established as fact.

It may be true that this bill is intended to discourage critical thinking about science, but what many folks (not necessarily you) seem to be pushing for is to censor the discussion rather than engage in open debate about theories that we simply don't know to be fact.

Comment Re:Theory or fact? (Score 1) 672

No, I am not holding anybody to an impossible standard. We can make whatever claims we need to about geological processes, stellar evolution etc. I am only asking that we distinguish between things we can know as fact and things that we must suppose as theory.

It is important to understand the distinction between fact and theory so that further improvements can be made in any discipline. If a researcher finds facts that collide with a theory, he must be comfortable declaring a theory to be in error.

What we should teach in schools is that a fact is distinguished from a theory in certain ways, that facts and theories both provide meaningful aids in understanding our world but that they are not equivalent. Further, when we teach a theory in school, we should teach it as a theory not as a fact. Student should know what we know for certain and what we have had to derive from the facts available to us.

Comment Re:Theory or fact? (Score 1) 672

While there may be subtle (or not so subtle) shifts in meaning based on context, I think it is fair to say that no one would assert that we can use the words theory and fact interchangeably in science or any other discipline.

No reasonable scientist would accept a theory as having the same weight as a fact. In the event that an observed fact conflicts with a theory, good science calls for us to reformulate the theory based on the facts. We do not discard facts when they conflict with a theory.

Comment Re:Theory or fact? (Score 1) 672

"All modern life forms" is one of things that has not been proven, in fact has not been repeated a single time - this is a theory. So far we have been unable to evolve a complex life form from a simple one even a single time. Whether you agree with the theory, the bottom line is that it is no more than a theory (at best) and has certainly not been proven through observation of repeatable scientific experiments.

In other disciplines we would never accept an assertion as fact that could not be proven demonstrably - software engineering is a simple case. If you tell me that a program can perform some task, you prove it by writing a piece of software to perform that task. Does biology get a pass on this requirement?

Comment Re:Theory or fact? (Score 1) 672

You are correct, we as a society tend to be a little sloppy/ambiguous about how things are named and referred to.

I suspect that most of the folks engaged in this discussion are thinking of the theory of evolution as the set of ideas that provide a description of how life began on Earth and how the various more complex species evolved from a single celled organism.

The creationist view also suggests common descent from a universal ancestor, most creationists (though not all) would argue that common ancestor was in the same species.

Comment Re:Theory or fact? (Score 1) 672

What has been observed in nature is the principle of natural selection and function of genetic mutations - these are components of the theory of evolution rather than a comprehensive treatment of the theory. What has not been observed is the process of evolution as the "origin of the species", the beginning of life on this planet.

Theories explain and interpret facts, but theories are not facts.

Comment Re:Theory or fact? (Score 2) 672

I am simply asserting that these things are indeed theories, not facts and can not be presented as facts.

Whether I agree with the theory isn't the issue. I believe that when a society chooses to teach theory as fact it begins the descent into a valley of ignorance that will take a long time to climb out of. I think it is important to be impartial when we teach the next generation, things are what they are - be objective. No matter how much you like an idea, classify it fairly and be open minded enough to allow it to be labelled properly so that the young minds can see a consistent treatment of the reality they are coming to grips with.

I would go so far as to suggest that even theory is a bit strong since we can not verify the hypothesis via repeatable experiment. If we could even know what the conditions were at the time the evolutionary process began that would at least be a start, however we don't even have the most basic facts to work with in this case.

Does it make sense to suggest that I am a flat earth, sun revolving around the earth type simply because I take issue with people characterizing theory with fact? That seems like a non-sequiter to me.

Comment Re:Theory or fact? (Score -1, Offtopic) 672

How many times has evolution been shown to be accurate? The last time I checked the conditions under which life supposedly evolved have not been recreated a single time. No "live" organisms have been synthesized from primordial ooze even once. In fact, we aren't' even sure what comprised the primordial ooze.

There are plenty of theories about what the conditions might have been, however the bottom line is that we really don't know. We can only theorize about what might have been going on at the time - and that isn't based on observation (another key element of real science).

This discussion is not about whether the theory of evolution is correct, but rather whether it is a theory or a fact.

Is it reasonable to assert that a fact can be an idea that has never been observed and can not be confirmed by even a single complete test (since the conditions of the test can not be known)?

Some of the facts that are used to construct the theory of evolution are testable and observable, however the theory is an interpretation of a mixture of facts and assumptions and the theory itself is simply not a fact.

Comment Re:Theory or fact? (Score 1) 672

Are you suggesting that I am equivocating? I am asserting the evolution for example is simply a theory and NOT a fact. It is based on facts, in some cases dubiously interpreted, however evolution is simply not a "proven fact".

Equivocating on theory and fact occurs when one decides to describe a favorite theory as fact in order to try to give it more weight in a discussion.

Comment Re:Theory or fact? (Score 1) 672

I think I have the definitions of fact and theory well in hand:

From Merriam Webster:

theory noun \th--r, thir-\
plural theories
Definition of THEORY
1: the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another
2: abstract thought : speculation
3: the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art
4a : a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action
b : an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances —often used in the phrase in theory
5: a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena
6a : a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation
b : an unproved assumption : conjecture
c : a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject
  See theory defined for English-language learners
See theory defined for kids
Examples of THEORY

a widely accepted scientific theory
Her method is based on the theory that all children want to learn.
There are a number of different theories about the cause of the disease.
She proposed a theory of her own.
Investigators rejected the theory that the death was accidental.
There is no evidence to support such a theory.
He is a specialist in film theory and criticism.
The immune surveillance theory of cancer holds that in a way we all do have cancer, that a healthy immune system fights off rogue cells as they appear. —Sallie Tisdale, Harper's, June 2007
[+]more

fact noun \fakt\
Definition of FACT

1: a thing done: as
a obsolete : feat
b : crime
c archaic : action
2 archaic : performance, doing
3: the quality of being actual : actuality
4a : something that has actual existence
b : an actual occurrence
5
: a piece of information presented as having objective reality
— in fact
: in truth
  See fact defined for English-language learners
See fact defined for kids
Examples of FACT

Rapid electronic communication is now a fact.
The book is filled with interesting facts and figures.
He did it, and that's a fact.

Comment Theory or fact? (Score -1, Troll) 672

These stories always amuse me.

The folks that are religious about the "truth" of the big bang, evolution, climate change or any other theory try to defend presenting the THEORY as scientific fact in the name of good science. Whether you believe in it or not, it is just plain silly to present it as fact. Theory and fact are two very different things.

It is dishonest to present these theories as fact, no matter how convinced you are of their truthfulness, they remain theories. There are plenty of goons on both sides of the argument, but you have to admit that there are just as many people who are closed minded and simply unwilling to accept reality who are in favor of these theories as are against them.

Comment Re:Do non-Iranians have a voice? (Score 1) 301

Of course I don't care for their attitude toward women, domestic violence etc. My point is that no one nominated the US as the global cop and they don't appreciate our trying to fill that role. The question here is not whether a nation is behaving in a way that we are comfortable with - the question is whether one nation has a right to waltz in and reshape another nation. It is a very tricky thing to translate individual morality to the national level. You really do NOT want the national government making moral pronouncements. Trust me - it is a really bad idea. History is full of example where the national governments made horrible messes (with the best intentions).

If we really care about human rights, and I mean really care then why are we not more directly involved with the genocide in the various African countries? The answer is that we don't care about human rights - it is a shill that politicians use to excuse their abuse of power.

The founders of the US knew that this would happen, they feared it. Washington made it very clear in his final speech in office - he warned the people to not get involved in the old world national issues.

Comment Re:Immenant Disaster... (Score 1) 61

I did read part of the FM :) My comment wasn't intended to suggest that any robot of non-humanoid shape would meet the requirements, just that humanoid shape isn't a requirement - only the illustration.

You are correct - the requirements are stiff. Many of the challenges lend themselves better to a multi-legged chassis with manipulators that can handle tools. The human form is tricky for a number of reasons, odd center of gravity, etc. that are more suited to biological form than a machine. This looks like a great challenge.

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