Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×
User Journal

Journal Journal: Falsifiability is the basis of science

Just one final clarification for you - keep in mind that my comments on error bars were musings on the falsifiability of global warming, from a philosophy of science perspective. [ShakaUVM]

That's quite a euphemism for repeatedly accusing scientists of failing to construct and test falsifiable theories, or accusing them of dishonestly claiming more knowledge than there is.


Now, I'd grown accustomed to 'spiritual'Â claims, and had decided to ignore them because they weren't falsifiable . ... I would like to see falsifiable evidence that they exist, rather than mere supposition. [emphasis added in all quotes] [Dumb Scientist]


My sense of duty to science stops here, unfortunately, so I can't falsify this hypothesis. [Dumb Scientist]


scientific theories have to make unique, falsifiable predictions. ... A metatheory has to be specific enough that it can be falsified entirely, though, otherwise it's not scientific. ... The Big Bang metatheory could be proven wrong by ... in the strictest sense his theory was falsified in the 1940s ... Evolution can also be falsified ... [Dumb Scientist]


... But don't include experimental data or unfalsifiable assumptions about parallel universes in order to account for fine-tuning of any physical constants ... [Dumb Scientist]


... presumably high-speed photography could falsify Chris's explanation. On the other hand, it's harder to falsify my hypothesis because ... [Dumb Scientist]


I agree that models which don't make falsifiable predictions are worthless. I've just never seen that happen in peer reviewed journals. [Dumb Scientist]


It's definitely falsifiable science, too. [Dumb Scientist]


My third piece of evidence is the concept of falsifiability. You see, a scientific hypothesis needs more than naturalism to be valid. It also needs to be falsifiable in the sense that an experiment (either real or gedanken) can be performed that will either support the theory or disprove it. Evolution, for example, is falsifiable in many different ways. ... any scientific theory proposes a naturalistic explanation for some feature of the world, and makes falsifiable predictions ... Because 'Intelligent Design'Â is not naturalistic and makes no falsifiable predictions, it not only isn't right, it isn't even wrong. ... it's clear that you think evolution produces no predictions and is not falsifiable. ... supernatural explanations are ... not falsifiable ... [Dumb Scientist]


But evolution as a whole just isn't comparable to an unfalsifiable concept like the Flying Spaghetti Monster or intelligent design. ... Evolution is falsifiable science, while intelligent design is a religious belief. [Dumb Scientist]


... evolution is only compatible with the evidence 'all life uses the same DNA,'Â which means evolution is falsifiable science and creationism is theology instead. [Dumb Scientist]


It's possible that abiogenesis happened several times, so finding two types of DNA wouldn't falsify evolution. ... evolution is falsifiable science. ... I've explored the idea that computer simulations can falsify evolution here. ... It's yet another way to falsify evolution. It wouldn't falsify creationism ... when did you offer these falsifiable predictions for creationism/ID? ... Please show me specific falsifiable predictions that could - in principle - falsify creationism/ID. [Dumb Scientist]


The word 'falsifiable' isn't applicable, because creationism/ID isn't science. ... that's my central point: creationism/ID isn't science because it's not falsifiable. Every time I mention this, you provide an example that could falsify evolution and claim that it's (somehow) a way to falsify creationism. [Dumb Scientist]


I'll note that too short a time between the bombardment and the first microbes could falsify evolution. ... it's one of the simplest ways to falsify evolution. ... they're not making falsifiable statements. When omnipotence (or omniscience, or any kind of supernatural power) is an acceptable answer, falsification is impossible because there's literally no limit to what an omnipotent being could do. [Dumb Scientist]


While I admire your attempt to adhere to the scientific method, I'm not sure that these examples constitute falsifiability in a rigorous sense. If every animal had different DNA bases, that would utterly demolish evolution. All of the predictions you're offering as falsifications merely seem to add a few more 'why'Â questions (as you say) to an already gigantic stack of 'why'Â questions that theologians have struggled with for centuries. [Dumb Scientist]


In science, nothing is ever proven true. Experiments might sometimes fail to falsify theories, but that's very different from being 'proven true.'Â [Dumb Scientist]


I don't know if you're discussing heresy or orthodoxy. All I'm saying is that you're discussing religion of some variety, not falsifiable science. [Dumb Scientist]


You say that as though my life's work isn't developing and falsifying hypotheses. ... [Dumb Scientist]


But, as I've stressed, creationism can't ever be refuted, because its inherently supernatural properties make it compatible with any potential discovery. On the other hand, I've listed two simple falsifications of evolution: chimpanzees in the Precambrian and many species with totally different DNA bases. ... Note that I'm not saying creationism is wrong! Quite the opposite! It's just not a scientific theory because it isn't falsifiable. [Dumb Scientist]


Scientific theories compete in the sense that every new observation either supports or falsifies them. ... [Dumb Scientist]


Science is falsifiable. It produces specific predictions. Creationism/ID doesn't. [Dumb Scientist]


That's what falsifiability means. There has to be some type of evidence which could, in principle, prove the theory wrong. I've linked to many many more tests in the conversation that list was taken from. [Dumb Scientist]


Evolution is thus falsifiable in that manner. Creationism can work either way, so it's not falsifiable and therefore not science. ... It's just not falsifiable, and therefore not a scientific statement. [Dumb Scientist]


And yet again, the distinction is that your belief can't ever be disproven because it's based on religious faith, whereas scientific theories have to be testable by definition. [Dumb Scientist]

... It's nice to see that we both agree on the core matter. ... [ShakaUVM]

No, the "core matter" here is that you're repeatedly and baselessly libelling an entire subfield of physicists, which I most certainly do not agree with, in any sense of the word.

Why do people insult scientists in this manner? It's like telling a plumber "Oh, come on... you don't really know the difference between a bathtub and a sink." Presumably, people wouldn't insult him by suggesting that he's fundamentally incompetent at his life's work. Maybe that's because plumbers carry big wrenches, while scientists carry calculators? [Dumb Scientist]

... the point of my original post above was to talk about the very paradox of verification and falsification in regards to climate science... which I think it seems you agree with. They are very problematic. [ShakaUVM]

This is the second time you've claimed that I agree with your bizarre misconceptions. Please stop. It wasn't true then, and it's not true now. As I've already discussed, some physics topics can seem very problematic if you spend your time (for instance) running a small business. That's why professional physicists spend that time doing physics and getting structured feedback from other physicists. As it turns out, experience and peer-review can help one tackle subjects which armchair quarterbacks might consider "very problematic." If that weren't true, then physicists probably would agree with you... but only if they could manage to stop muttering "f*ckin' magnets, how do they work?"

User Journal

Journal Journal: J.K.Rowling wins $6750, and pound of flesh 17

J.K. Rowling didn't make enough money on Harry Potter, so she had to make sure that the 'Harry Potter Lexicon' was shut down. After a trial in Manhattan in Warner Bros. v. RDR Books, she won, getting the judge to agree with her (and her friends at Warner Bros. Entertainment) that the 'Lexicon' did not qualify for fair use protection. In a 68-page decision (PDF) the judge concluded that the Lexicon did a little too much 'verbatim copying', competed with Ms. Rowling's planned encyclopedia, and might compete with her exploitation of songs and poems from the Harry Potter books, although she never made any such claim in presenting her evidence. The judge awarded her $6750, and granted her an injunction that would prevent the 'Lexicon' from seeing the light of day.
User Journal

Journal Journal: U. Mich. student calls for prosecution of Safenet

An anonymous University of Michigan student targeted by the RIAA as a 'John Doe', is asking for the RIAA's investigator, Safenet (formerly MediaSentry), to be prosecuted criminally for a pattern of felonies in Michigan. Known to Michigan's Department of Labor and Economic Growth -- the agency regulating private investigators in that state -- only as 'Case Number 162983070', the student has pointed out that the law has been clear in Michigan for years that computer forensics activities of the type practiced by Safenet require an investigator's license. This follows the submissions by other 'John Does' establishing that Safenet's changing and inconsistent excuses fail to justify its conduct, and that Michigan's legislature and governor have backed the agency's position that an investigator's license was required.
User Journal

Journal Journal: ABA Judges Get an Earful about RIAA Litigations 5

Well, I was afforded the opportunity to write for a slightly different audience -- the judges who belong to the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association. I was invited by the The Judges' Journal, their quarterly publication, to do a piece on the RIAA litigations for the ABA's Summer, 2008, 'Equal Access to Justice' issue. What I came up with was 'Large Recording Companies vs. The Defenseless : Some Common Sense Solutions to the Challenges of the RIAA Litigations', in which I describe the unfairness of these cases and make 15 suggestions as to how the courts could make it a more level playing field. I'm hoping the judges mod my article '+5 Insightful', but I'd settle for '+3 Informative'. For the actual article go here (PDF). (If anyone out there can send me a decent HTML version of it, I'll run that one up the flagpole as well.)
User Journal

Journal Journal: eBay beats Tiffany's in trademark case 2

Tiffany's has lost its bid to hold eBay liable for trademark infringement of Tiffany's brands taking place on eBay. After a lengthy bench trial (i.e. a trial where the judge, rather than the jury, decides the factual questions), Judge Richard J. Sullivan has issued a 66-page decision (PDF) carefully analyzing the facts and legal principles, ultimately concluding that 'it is the trademark owner's burden to police its mark, and companies like eBay cannot be held liable for trademark infringement based solely on their generalized knowledge that trademark infringement might be occurring on their websites'.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Dow Jones MarketWatch likens RIAA to the Mafia 11

According to commentator Therese Polletti at Dow Jones MarketWatch, "the RIAA's tactics are nearly as bad as the actions of mobsters, real or fictional. The analogy comes up easily and frequently in any discussion of the RIAA's maneuvers." Among other things she cites the extortionate nature of their 'settlement negotiations' pointed out by Prof. Bob Talbot of the University of San Francisco School of Law IP Law Clinic, whose student attorneys are helping private practitioners fight the RIAA, the illegality of the RIAA's use of unlicensed investigators, the flawed evidence it uses, and the fact that the RIAA thinks nothing of jeopardizing a student's college education in order to make their point, as support for the MAFIAA/Mafia analogy.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Class action complaint against RIAA available online 4

Recommended reading for all interested in the RIAA's litigation war against p2p file sharing is the amended class action complaint just filed in Oregon in Andersen v. Atlantic. This landmark 109-page document (pdf) tells both the general story of the RIAA's campaign against ordinary folks, and the specific story of its harassment of Tanya Andersen, and even of her young daughter. The complaint includes federal and state RICO claims, as well as other legal theories, and alleges that "The world's four major recording studios had devised an illegal enterprise intent on maintaining their virtually complete monopoly over the distribution of recorded music." The point has been made by one commentator that the RIAA won't be able to weasel its out of this one by simply withdrawing it; this one, they will have to answer for. If the relief requested in the complaint is granted, the RIAA's entire campaign will be shut down for good.
User Journal

Journal Journal: EFF travels to Arizona to argue Howell case

Although based in San Francisco, and only an amicus curiae in the Phoenix, Arizona, case of Atlantic v. Howell, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is sending its senior intellectual property lawyer Fred Von Lohmann to Phoenix to argue the Howell case, on behalf of the defendant, who is not represented by counsel. Due to the RIAA's attempt to take advantage of Mr. Howell's being undefended to try to convince the judge that merely 'making files available for distribution' -- i.e., just having them on one's computer in a manner that is accessible to sharing -- and that copying files from one's cd onto one's computer in mp3 format is itself "unlawful", EFF filed an amicus brief in January. Now it's taking the unusual step of actually sending someone to the courthouse to orally argue the motion.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Should RIAA's investigator have to disclose backup? 12

A technology battle is raging in UMG v. Lindor in Brooklyn over whether the RIAA's investigator, SafeNet (formerly known as MediaSentry), which has produced certain *txt printouts, now needs to disclose its digital files, validation methodology, testing procedures, failure rates, software manuals, protocols, packet logs, source code, and other materials, so that the validity of its methods can be evaluated by the other side. SafeNet and the RIAA say no, the information is "proprietary and confidential". Ms. Lindor says yes, if you're going to testify in federal court the other side has a right to test your evidence. A list of what is being sought is here (pdf). MediaSentry has produced 'none of the above'. "Put up or shut up" says one commentator to MediaSentry. What do you say?
User Journal

Journal Journal: Connecticut Judge rejects RIAA 'making available' theory 3

A federal judge in Connecticut has rejected the RIAA's "making available" theory, which is the basis of all of the RIAA's peer to peer file sharing cases. In Atlantic v. Brennan, in a 9-page opinion (pdf), Judge Janet Bond Arterton held that the RIAA needs to prove "actual distribution of copies", and cannot rely -- as it was permitted to do in Capitol v. Thomas -- upon the mere fact that there are song files on the defendant's computer and that they were "available". This is the same issue that has been the subject of extensive briefing in two contested cases in New York, Elektra v. Barker and Warner v. Cassin. Judge Arterton also held that the defendant had other possible defenses, such as the unconstitutionality of the RIAA's damages theory and possible copyright misuse flowing from the record companies' anticompetitive behavior.
User Journal

Journal Journal: U. of Maine legal clinic fights RIAA; first in country

"A student law clinic is about to cause a revolution" says p2pnet. For the first time in the history of the RIAA's ex parte litigation campaign against college students, a university law school's legal aid clinic has taken up the fight against the RIAA in defense of the university's college students. Student attorneys at the University of Maine School of Law's Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic, under the supervision of law school prof Deirdre M. Smith, have moved to dismiss the RIAA's complaint in a Portland, Maine, case, Arista v. Does 1-27, on behalf of 2 University of Maine undergrads. Their recently filed reply brief (pdf) points to the US Supreme Court decision in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, and the subsequent California decision following Twombly, Interscope v. Rodriguez, which dismissed the RIAA's "making available" complaint as mere "conclusory", "boilerplate" "speculation". The 2 students represented by Cumberland join the 8 students represented by a prominent Portland law firm, bringing to 10 the number of University of Maine students fighting back in this case.
User Journal

Journal Journal: RIAA objects to Oregon AG's request for information 2

The RIAA is apparently having an allergic reaction to the request by the State Attorney General of Oregon for information about the RIAA's investigative tactics, in Arista v. Does 1-17, the Portland, Oregon, case targeting students at the University of Oregon. See The Oregonian, December 1, 2007 ("UO suspects music industry of spying") and p2pnet, November 29, 2007 ("RIAA may be spying on students: Oregon AG"). Not only are the record companies opposing the request (pdf), they're asking the Judge not to even read it. (pdf) Commentary: "RIAA scorns Oregon University request".
User Journal

Journal Journal: RIAA targets 7 out of 8 Ivies; steers clear of Harvard 7

The RIAA's latest anti-college round of "early settlement" letters targets 7 out of 8 Ivy League schools, but continues to give Harvard University a wide berth. This is perhaps the most astonishing display of cowardice exhibited to date by the multinational cartel of SONY BMG, Warner Bros. Records, EMI, and Vivendi/Universal (the "Big Four" record companies, which are rapidly become less "big"). The lesson which other colleges and universities should draw from this latest of many acts of cowardice: "All bullies are cowards. Appeasement of bullies doesn't work. Standing up to bullies and fighting back has a much higher success rate."
User Journal

Journal Journal: Ohio U. Gets RIAA off its back by paying $60k + $16k a year 6

Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio, has found the key to getting the RIAA to stop inundating it and its students with "settlement" letters. According to the university's student online publication, the university paid $60,000, plus $16,000 per year "maintenance", to Audible Magic, the business partner of the RIAA's all-purpose expert witness Dr. Doug Jacobson, for its "CopySense" filtering software. Once it made the payments, the letters stopped. This of course raises a lot of questions as to the 'disinterestedness' of Dr. Jacobson, whose deposition in the UMG v. Lindor case was the subject of interesting Slashdot commentary.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Rochester Judge Holds RIAA Evidence Insufficient 7

Judge David G. Larimer, presiding in Rochester, New York, has denied an RIAA application for default judgment on the ground that the RIAA's evidence was insufficient, in that it contained no details of actual downloads or distributions, and no sufficient evidence that defendant was in fact Kazaa user "heavyjeffmc@KaZaA". The decision (pdf) concluded that "there are significant issues of fact regarding the identification of the defendant from his alleged "online media distribution system" username". (In case you're unfamiliar with the term "online media distribution system", that's because it is a term the RIAA coined 4 years ago to describe p2p file sharing accounts in its lawsuits; the term is not known to have been used by anyone else anywhere else.) In August a similar RIAA default judgment motion was denied on the ground that the pleadings failed to allege sufficient factual details supporting a claim of copyright infringement, in a San Diego, California, case, Interscope v. Rodriguez.

Slashdot Top Deals

Every young man should have a hobby: learning how to handle money is the best one. -- Jack Hurley