10th January 2014
Freeberg does it again.
Bearing in mind that experience and experiment come from a common Latin root, catechism-science is anything toiling away under the label of “science” that exists entirely outside of that. Its persuasive strength comes from being repeated over and over, verbatim, by people who call themselves “scientists” but who do not do science.
It’s important to separate this out from the real stuff, for a number of reasons. One of the most important of these reasons is that science relies a great deal on deductive reasoning, and while deductive reasoning is most persuasive when it is carried out properly, people lose track of how easy it is to do it improperly. It doesn’t work at all, in fact, unless 1) the range of possible causes has been exhaustively listed, and 2) each item within that list was eliminated conservatively. If the producer of the conclusion succeeds at #1 and fails at #2, the final conclusion is only as strong as the weakest elimination. If he fails at #1 then the whole thing is just a waste of time.