Coffee wrote:But even in those cases isn't the focus is on falsifyable hypotheses?
In my opinion the job of a researcher is not to prove or disprove anything, but instead generate interesting questions about his field and develop through repeatable test for answering the question. Finally he must present the findings in a way that helps expand the understanding of his field to others. Long Discussionhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_methodhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_scientific_method
I would say that your statement is a common misconception as well. This is always hard to discuss because it puts the word science on some pedestal like its a religion of truth. Science is really a vague word it just means a systematic gathering of knowledge. What was considered science at various periods of history would not be considered valid research today. In stead when we use the word we normally are talking about the Scientific Method which is a concrete approach/philosophy on how to solve problems. In short the Scientific method really isn't about "proving" anything its about gathering evidence which supports your claim. Any academic paper worth its weight in peer review will discusses the statistical significance of a finding instead of stating what it proved.
When using this method the practitioner comes up with a question and states a hypothesis. This hypothesis acts as a speculation on what he expects the answer to be. Ten by developing a series of test he aims to provide critics of the work with evidence that either supports or discredits the original hypothesis. Those who accurately follow this method are not bothered by a hypothesis being discredited because the method is not about proving yourself correct, but answering a question about a hypothesis.
What sets the Scientific Method apart from other methods of inquiry is that it dictates a level of do-diligence beyond what is normally required to prove to a single individual that something is factual. This level an intellectual rigor to knew theories that weeds out imaginative, but improbable concepts to the world around us. As evidence towards a theory mounts we loose interest in questioning the validity of the results and instead use the theory to evaluate new hypothesis.
However, we shouldn't forget that sometimes our vantage point prevents us from seeing the entire picture and even though we have a vast amount of evidence that a specific theory is correct it may not be the whole truth and we must be able to accept a theory which is more complete. The best example off the top of my head would be the difference between Classical and Modern mechanics.
And then from the article
Excerpt from the article wrote:Truth and belief
Belief can alter observations; those with a particular belief will often see things as reinforcing their belief, even if to another observer they would appear not to do so. Even researchers admit that the first observation may have been a little imprecise, whereas the second and third were "adjusted to the facts," until tradition, education, and familiarity produce a readiness for new perception.
Eadweard Muybridge's studies of a horse galloping
Needham's Science and Civilization in China uses the 'flying gallop' image as an example of observation: in it, the legs of a galloping horse are depicted as splayed, when the stop-action pictures of a horse's gallop by Eadweard Muybridge show otherwise. In a gallop, at the moment that no hoof is touching the ground, a horse's legs are gathered together and are not splayed. Earlier paintings depict the incorrect flying gallop observation (this is an example of observer bias).
This demonstrates Ludwik Fleck's caution that people observe what they expect to observe, until shown otherwise; our beliefs will affect our observations (and therefore our subsequent actions). The purpose of a scientific method is to test a hypothesis, a proposed explanation about how things are, via repeatable experimental observations which can definitively contradict the hypothesis.
For the experiment to be valid it must have a possible outcome that would support and another outcome that would contradict the hypothesis. Some times its easier to show things through contradiction then it is to show them by construction so often a hypothesis is set up to be false, but to show more concrete concepts like mathematical models you almost always have to show it in a constructive manor which supports the hypothesis (ie the model).