So the theory, which experienced challenges and tests, is supposed to achieve a height near ‘perfect’. Therefore, the more falsifiable the theory is, the more potential to be tested, and more possible to be found problems, then, more likely to be corrected and become a better convincing theory. However, there are criticisms of Karl Popper. Firstly, the falsification does work in the theory, but it’s not always conclusive in practice. Scientists don’t work by falsification. For example, we know that in the magnetic field, the like repels, the dislike attracts.
If in one experiment, the results are opposite. Will the operator say that he has knocked down the theory and it should be abandoned now? Definitely no. He will think about the possible mistakes in the apparatus and the method he used. His result is only a counter-example, in practice, it is far not enough to overturn a law of nature. In another point, even though falsifiability is desirable for scientists and philosophers, it is possible to result in a fear emotion for the public in some special cases, for example, medicine and remedy.
If the doctor keeps emphasizing the falsifiability of a new medicine or remedy to the patient, says that it is very scientific because we might find a way to disapprove it. The patient would probably doubt on its effectiveness on him even though it’s a symbol of ‘scientific’. That’s also why those ‘pseudo sciences’ get advantage to be popular; the public is in a lack of the understanding of ‘a falsifiable theory’. However, the public is usually the final beneficiary of the development of science. And if they have a bias on the falsifiability, then many applications can’t have their impacts.
Moreover, actually there are no perfect theories. Limitations are not a shame to see. Science is developed during the process of practicing. If there is any case comes up as an exception or it can seriously falsify the whole theory, people shouldn’t let emotion be a block of recognizing the essence of falsifiability. Meanwhile, as I just mentioned, sometimes people do believe in those ‘pseudo sciences’. Even though they are not falsifiable theories in the eyes’ of professors, they are pragmatic theories that work in practice for people, such as religion.
If you say ‘God exists’, it’s not ‘scientific’ in term of ‘falsifiability’, but certain people still choose to accept it as their belief. As this kind of religious belief does help them practically. So even though a theory is not falsifiable, people tend to use it depend on its practical value. Another example is the earthquake prediction. It’s not falsifiable as it’s hard for you to know that if you’ve tested the real cause of the earthquake, or it’s only a lucky coincidence. But scientists are still using these current methods and people would take their results seriously as this result connects with their lives.
Even though the technology is not mature enough, it would not be abandoned just because it doesn’t work by falsifiability. Oppositely, scientists will work even harder on it to get it improved, as it’s a promising theory and necessary for the society. That suggests another point, some theories may not be falsifiable at current stage, but it’s possible to become falsifiable in the future as science is always improving based on previous work. In the end, I want to introduce other two very interesting ideas related to ‘scientific’ and ‘falsifiability’. They ‘re physiognomy and ‘Yi Jing’.
They’re both ancient and traditional in China. Physiognomy is a study about the connection between people’s appearance and their characteristics and fates. ‘Yi Jing’ is a collection of study of the phenomena in climate and geography and its impact on changing people and even the tendency of events. They used to be regarded as superstition. Nevertheless, as time passed by, many people have deeper understanding about them and finally fascinated by their myths, calling them ‘new science’. Especially for Yi Jing, it has been regarded as one of the most important and intellectual work in Chinese cultural history.
But in term of falsifiability, it’s considerably difficult to say. There are too many variables in the observations and experiments, which are difficult to control. These two ideas themselves have been extremely subtle as ‘complex truth’. Just imagine if people find difficulties to understand them thoroughly, it’s much harder for them to come up with ideas to falsify them. So although possibly there are doubts on their falsifiability in order to be ‘science’. It’s not the fault of theories themselves, it rather be a boundary of human’s current abilities.
But just as the earthquake prediction, if it’s helpful, people use it. And when human’s abilities are strong enough, they would find ways to try to falsify the theories, making them falsifiable later on. To sum up, theoretically falsifiability is a useful tool to differ ‘science’ from ‘pseudo science’. It symbolizes the theory’s potential to be tested, meanwhile, improved; On the other hand, we should understand the gap between the theories and practice, working with it critically and carefully in the practical cases.
‘ Philosophers are the driving force in determining what factors determine the validity of scientific results’, but after all, science is realistically aiming to advance people’s living standard in the long term.
Bibliography 1 Text book-theory of knowledge 2 Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations (1963) (edited online version from http://www. stephenjaygould. org/ctrl/popper_falsification. html#see 3 http://www. experiment-resources. com/falsifiability. html 4 http://www. furryelephant. com/content/radioactivity/discovery-electron-thomson/popper-kuhn-lakatos-feyerabend/.