Subluxation and the GCC

Following up on the Chiro fixes DNA post, I found that the General Chiropractic Council in the UK doesn't promote subluxation as an actual mechanism.

The chiropractic vertebral subluxation complex is an historical concept but it remains a theoretical model. It is not supported by any clinical research evidence that would allow claims to be made that it
is the cause of disease.

I find the use of "theoretical" interesting here. My understanding of the Scientific Method is that the use of the word "theory" is reserved for things that have been tested so much that it's fairly well accepted that these things are facts and it's just honesty and integrity that prevents use of the work "fact". After all;

"Remember one ugly fact kills a beautiful Theory"
- Thomas Huxley

From this point of view, with it being, in their own words, "not supported by any clinical research evidence", you have to wonder about the Councils ethics when making claims that will be read by laymen.

I also wonder what the position of the NZ GCC equivalent is...

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NZ Chiro support subluxation

It appears the NZ Chiro Board aren't quite as forward thinking as the UK's GCC and still supports the use of subluxation. It's mentioned in their Application for Registration.

Careful... :)

Your use of "theoretical" may well be different from the meaning the GCC intended. There's simply no way to tell from the text itself. If they're using it in the generic sense then they're on firm ground. It becomes a non-statement, but it's a non-statement on firm ground. :)

Beyond that, I wouldn't put too much faith in the 'scientific method". It's not how most science is done and phil of science has moved on quite a bit since that idea was put forward. I know it's all they teach in schools, and indeed in most departments in most universities, but it's not as clear cut as that.

I was careful

Evan: "Your use of "theoretical" may well be different from the meaning the GCC intended. There's simply no way to tell from the text itself. If they're using it in the generic sense then they're on firm ground. It becomes a non-statement, but it's a non-statement on firm ground. :)"

I would have to strongly disagree with your point of there being "simply no way to tell from the text itself" and for you to take that position I can only assume you didn't read the attached source document.

The document I'm quoting from is from a professional body to it's qualified members(original here). There's nothing there to suggest that they would be using layman's terms. There's a number of reasons to reach this conclusion. Given the nature of the communication it would be irresponsible to use terms that could be read with multiple meanings. They make reference to using "the best available evidence" to inform their decisions and reference a certain standard of research when quoting it in their advertising. They're using technical terms all the way through it also.

There's no good reason to assume that the use of "theoretical", especially when they're referring to a "theoretical model", is meant in anything but the scientific term.

If anything, there's simply no way to interpret it any other way.

Evan: "Beyond that, I wouldn't put too much faith in the 'scientific method". It's not how most science is done and phil of science has moved on quite a bit since that idea was put forward. I know it's all they teach in schools, and indeed in most departments in most universities, but it's not as clear cut as that."

I don't put any faith in the scientific method. Faith is what you use to hide from uncomfortable facts. To quote Tim Minchin;

Science adjusts it’s beliefs based on what’s observed
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved.
- Tim Minchin

I put my trust in it though.

You claim that it's not how most science is done but offer nothing to back up this position. Citation please. Something with statistics would be good. I'd also be really interested to know what it's been replaced with and, more to the point, what makes it superior to the scientific method.

I recall one humorous take on this; There may very well be something better than the scientific method and if there is the scientific method is the best tool we have to find it. (paraphrased from somewhere (the SGU I think)).

What, really?!

OK, let's look at it this way...

From the original document:

"The chiropractic vertebral subluxation complex is an historical concept but it remains a theoretical model. It is not supported by any clinical research evidence that would allow claims to be made that it is the cause of disease."

The critical part is that they say "theoretical model". They don't *say* "theory". *You* say theory. Saying they have a theory is not the same as saying they have a theoretical model. You base a response on use of a root word, not the actual text. In context, and even if accepting that they only use terms in the strict sense, that is no more unusual and unreasonable than someone using Newtonian mathematics to calculate planetary actions *because it's easier compared to other, more "accepted" and "proven" models*. The use of models that are known to be wrong but give the right answers (or close enough) under a known set of circumstances is hardly unusual. (I'm assuming there that you don't look up in the sky and calculate planetary acceleration relative to the sun to estimate passage of time, do you? I imagine, like most normal people, you look up at the sky and go something along the lines of "The sun's moved about X much so it's about Y o'clock now: almost brown o'clock at the LCR!") Is it sad that they are also doing so within a wider context (ie. their entire discipline) that is demonstrably wrong and potentially dangerous? Sure, but that's *not* what you quoted and responded to.

I'll repeat: in and of itself the quoted claim is perfectly valid. The statement is also largely devoid of meaning.

As for scientific method, I suggest you pick up a copy of this:

http://www.amazon.com/What-This-Thing-Called-Science/dp/0335201091/ref=s...

It's a good read and covers theories of science and method up to the mid-1990's. I don't see this as a place to have to cite everything (an annoyingly American trait that gets in the way of people having discussions, IMO) as if it were an academic paper.

Only have time for quick

Only have time for quick responses, but I think they cover the points;

The critical part is that they say "theoretical model". They don't *say* "theory". *You* say theory.

Of course I say theory. They say "theoretical model" because "theory model" makes no grammatical sense.

You base a response on use of a root word, not the actual text.

No. I based my response on the use of the words chosen in the context of the nature of the communication, it's sender and its target audience.

I don't see this as a place to have to cite everything (an annoyingly American trait that gets in the way of people having discussions, IMO)...

What gives you that impression? Of you're going to make a claim you should be prepared to back it up.

I don't have the time to read the book, but I'm currently crowdsourcing opinions from 300 the 300 scientist types in my circles. ;) G+ is kinda cool for the ability to target posts that way.

Right, off to SitP Welly.

"Theory" /= "Theoretical

"Theory" /= "Theoretical model" *in the sense you're using it*.

Again, use of a theoretical model for explanation or action does not imply acceptance or recognition of the model as fact. Many Chiro's do accept it as fact, but the bit you are quoting doesn't. It *specifically* says that it is a historical artifact and that it remains in use as a model. You're engaging in the same sort of mis-use of language that Ayn Rand is famous for - taking one phrase, re-phrasing it in another sentence and then attacking something based on that same word re-phrasing *but where it has a different meaning in the subsequent context* (Today, in Badly Phrased Responses, we have Evan....)

Let me put it another way. You are saying that a theoretical model must have a positive truth value. That's simply wrong. A model holds no truth value. The predictions of a model do. The model, in and of itself, is truth neutral. You're conflating model with theory. They (GCC) can claim it remains a theoretical model. Why can they claim that? Because it does: people still use it as a model of a theory they have. Does the model accurately reflect reality? No, not as far as anyone can actually tell, but that's a separate thing from the model itself. Again, Newtonian mechanics can be a theoretical model for planetary movement. Is it accurate? Yup, within small scale systems it is extremely accurate. Are the predictions of the model in terms of the underlying theory itself accurate? No, they are not. That doesn't stop it being a theoretical model.

>I don't see this as a place to have to cite everything (an annoyingly American trait that gets in the way of people having discussions, IMO)...<

"What gives you that impression? Of you're going to make a claim you should be prepared to back it up."

I did. You dismissed it and said you had to go drinking. :) Or did you mean what gives the impression that Americans always scream about citing sources and can't have friendly discussions? That one's easy: I work with Americans all day long (& enjoy winding them up).

"I don't have the time to read the book, but I'm currently crowdsourcing opinions from 300 the 300 scientist types in my circles. ;) G+ is kinda cool for the ability to target posts that way."

Excellent. Make sure you check that they're qualified to comment. Merely being a "scientist type" is not qualification in and of itself. (For the other person that chimed in, argumentum ad authoritum (sp?) and all that.) I'll be disappointed if you come back with "Well, the 300+ people who are "science types" (but have no actual study or training in the field of philosophy of science) all say you're wrong." I might as well claim that I'm right simply because I have a Master's in Science. ;) :)

At base, I simply think you're attacking the wrong point. Chiropractic is as much utter bollocks as the founders other 'gift' to the world, homeopathy, and potentially much more dangerous, but the grounds for attacking the claim it can help repair DNA are much simpler than screwing about with what the GCC said: they just have no evidence to support themselves. :)

"What gives you that

"What gives you that impression? Of you're going to make a claim you should be prepared to back it up."

I did. You dismissed it and said you had to go drinking. :) Or did you mean what gives the impression that Americans always scream about citing sources and can't have friendly discussions? That one's easy: I work with Americans all day long (& enjoy winding them up).

You didn't really back it up at all. You posted a link to a book on Amazon. Unless you're willing to buy the book for me and somehow find me the time to read it your effort is no effort at all.

As for the bigoted slur lumping all Americans into one group, that's just a little sad, and not what I was meaning at all.

"You didn't really back it up

"You didn't really back it up at all. You posted a link to a book on Amazon. Unless you're willing to buy the book for me and somehow find me the time to read it your effort is no effort at all."

It was a comment, not an essay. Do you often demand sources and citations and statistics when you're in the pub? _O.o_

I pointed out that your initial argument was flawed (You simply misused the language in order to claim a point) and as an aside suggested that your understanding of science was not what it might be. You demanded a source. I can't quote an entire discipline at you (that's how wrong you are) and instead pointed you to a book that is extremely accessible. It's *not* my problem if you can't be bothered to find the time to go research something further when someone with training in the area suggests you might be wrong!

As for the American comment, I figured you would know how to read my comments by now. I'll include emotes next time. :)

not a comment, it was a link

"You didn't really back it up at all. You posted a link to a book on Amazon. Unless you're willing to buy the book for me and somehow find me the time to read it your effort is no effort at all."

It was a comment, not an essay.

It wasn't a comment, it was a link.

Do you often demand sources and citations and statistics when you're in the pub? _O.o_

Yes, although 'demand' is probably too strong a word for it in that environment. Challenged would work better. If the person claims to have them we move on to the next thing knowing that these sources/citations/etc will be presented if requested once in a more hospitable position to follow up on them. Either that or the discussion moves on to them and the references are looked up on the spot and become the next topic of discussion. Points are conceded or debated.

"I don't have the time to

"I don't have the time to read the book, but I'm currently crowdsourcing opinions from 300 the 300 scientist types in my circles. ;) G+ is kinda cool for the ability to target posts that way."

Excellent. Make sure you check that they're qualified to comment. Merely being a "scientist type" is not qualification in and of itself. (For the other person that chimed in, argumentum ad authoritum (sp?) and all that.) I'll be disappointed if you come back with "Well, the 300+ people who are "science types" (but have no actual study or training in the field of philosophy of science) all say you're wrong." I might as well claim that I'm right simply because I have a Master's in Science. ;) :)

This is moving the goalposts. Possibly unknowingly.

Your initial claim that I was addressing was;

Beyond that, I wouldn't put too much faith in the 'scientific method". It's not how most science is done and phil of science has moved on quite a bit since that idea was put forward.

This is what I was asking for citations on. Posting a link to a book describing a process that you think has replaced the scientific method does nothing at all to back up your point. Show us some statistics on this. These are the citations I was asking for.

On the topic of philosophy of science though, I recall a quote from a prominent skeptic and scientist that when along the lines of "Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds." I think it was Richard Feynman.

Gold: "I don't have the time

Gold: "I don't have the time to read the book, but I'm currently crowdsourcing opinions from 300 the 300 scientist types in my circles. ;) G+ is kinda cool for the ability to target posts that way."

Evan: Excellent. Make sure you check that they're qualified to comment. Merely being a "scientist type" is not qualification in and of itself. (For the other person that chimed in, argumentum ad authoritum (sp?) and all that.) I'll be disappointed if you come back with "Well, the 300+ people who are "science types" (but have no actual study or training in the field of philosophy of science) all say you're wrong." I might as well claim that I'm right simply because I have a Master's in Science. ;) :)

Gold: This is moving the goalposts. Possibly unknowingly.

*** Not at all. You demanded a source. I pointed to a primary source that is more qualified in the area than either of us. I also pointed out that IMO you're own intention of querying an otherwise unspecified anonymous group doesn't, IMO, do much to actually support your own position. I fail to see how I am moving the goal posts at all: I'm simply expecting that in a discussion about the philosophy of science that we both actually quote people that are directly trained and qualified to talk about the subject. The people you were going to check with may well be qualified, but you didn't cite any source for that. ;) :)

Gold: Your initial claim that I was addressing was;

Beyond that, I wouldn't put too much faith in the 'scientific method". It's not how most science is done and phil of science has moved on quite a bit since that idea was put forward.

Gold: This is what I was asking for citations on. Posting a link to a book describing a process that you think has replaced the scientific method does nothing at all to back up your point. Show us some statistics on this. These are the citations I was asking for.

*** And your comment above shows that you aren't up to date with the area. SM hasn't "been replaced " (singular) with anything. It's an open discussion. It always will be - Wittgenstein and all that. (I think saying the name first means I now automatically forfeit, but whatever) What are you expecting in terms of statistics? I genuinely don't understand the question on that bit.

Gold: On the topic of philosophy of science though, I recall a quote from a prominent skeptic and scientist that when along the lines of "Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds." I think it was Richard Feynman.

*** And? : ) There are several ways to take the comment. Academic prickery is one. In which case it's right up there with "That's all good and well, but he's a kiddie fiddler, so let's ignore his argument." Another way is that ornithology reveals more about birds than birds will ever know. One would hope, however, that unlike birds, scientists were capable of learning something about what it is they do, and don't do.

As I said originally, SM is often all that "science types" are ever taught about what science "is" or how "it's done", but that doesn't change the fact that parts of academia have moved on and "science" simply *isn't* always (or even often) done according to SM. You may as well argue that we should all still believe in a flat earth because that's also an old idea. (Although younger than the scientific method, as it happens).

If you genuinely have no interest in reading a book then try these sites instead -

http://www.dharma-haven.org/science/myth-of-scientific-method.htm

A (non) random selection of attacks on SM -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Against_Method
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feyerabend/#2.13

http://philoscience.unibe.ch/documents/TexteFS11/Lakatos1977.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imre_Lakatos#Research_programmes

http://des.emory.edu/mfp/Kuhn.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Samuel_Kuhn#The_Structure_of_Scienti...

quote mining

Gold: This is moving the goalposts. Possibly unknowingly.

*** Not at all.{snip}

Yes it is when you put my statement above in context with the explanation that immediately followed it. Quote mining is a despicable practice.

Gold: Your initial claim that

Gold: Your initial claim that I was addressing was;

Evan: Beyond that, I wouldn't put too much faith in the 'scientific method". It's not how most science is done and phil of science has moved on quite a bit since that idea was put forward.

Gold: This is what I was asking for citations on. Posting a link to a book describing a process that you think has replaced the scientific method does nothing at all to back up your point. Show us some statistics on this. These are the citations I was asking for.

*** And your comment above shows that you aren't up to date with the area. {snip}

I accept that possibility and if you can point at reliable study in a respected peer-reviewed journal I'll reconsider my point. Until then though, you've not provided anything reliable to back up your position. Note: at this point I've yet to check the links provided. My position may yet change.

You are still dodging the point though. Your claim that I focused on and asked you to back up was "It's not how most science is done". This is a testable claim. Show me the studies that found that the Scientific Method isn't how most science is done.

I will continue to pull you back to this until you either provide the citations, concede that you don't have any or wander off never to be heard from again (which I will take as you conceding the point).

Gold: I accept that

Gold: I accept that possibility and if you can point at reliable study in a respected peer-reviewed journal I'll reconsider my point.

*** No. Just no. That is not a valid response. You demand a peer reviewed journal? Are you actually saying you *refuse* to accept anything written by someone qualified in the field? You are saying that you refuse to accept any textbooks ever written? Think about the statement you just made.

Gold You are still dodging the point though. Your claim that I focused on and asked you to back up was "It's not how most science is done". This is a testable claim. Show me the studies that found that the Scientific Method isn't how most science is done.

*** I'm not dodging anything. I genuinely didn't understand what you were demanding. I also didn't realize that you were focussed on a comment that was "stream of thought". You asserted an absolute by implication - that SM is the be all and end all of 'science". I dispute that. I have provided examples. You have ignored them. Was I sloppy in the initial statement? Sure was. Do I now know that you expect primary source citations from committees that don't challenge your accepted but otherwise untested beliefs that you otherwise test and accept by only by popular acclaim? Sure do. :) Do I find that a peculiar position for a self-proclaimed sceptic to take? You betcha! :)

You also never acknowledged that your use of the term "theory" was a mistake. :) ;) Your misuse of the terms there were actually the only bit that I was interested in. At least we can agree that Chiropractic is utter bollocks. :)

Gold: I accept that

Gold: I accept that possibility and if you can point at reliable study in a respected peer-reviewed journal I'll reconsider my point.

*** No. Just no. That is not a valid response.

Yes, it is. (see below)

You demand a peer reviewed journal?

Yes, although you keep coming back to assuming everything is a demand. I'm requesting this, not demanding it. I'm informing you what it would take for you to sway my position.

Are you actually saying you *refuse* to accept anything written by someone qualified in the field?

Of course not.

But I'm not qualified in the field so I have no way to judge if what you're saying is valid. I don't know you well enough to have trust in your grasp of the information in the field. So far you've done nothing to bestow any trust in your understanding of the field simply from your resistance to provide any study to back up your point, let alone a peer-reviewed one.

Consider these two positions;

If I was to take what you claim at face value and ended up in a conversation and quoted your position as we currently stand I'm falling into the fallacy of an appeal to authority. This is bad.

If I was to take what you claim, backed up by a peer-reviewed study, and ended up in a conversation and quoted your position I'd be in a position of being able to claim at least a minor consensus of opinion within the qualified professionals in the field. More studies would strengthen that consensus. This puts me in a stronger position to base my position in the discussion on and avoids the obvious fallacy of the previous position.

You are saying that you refuse to accept any textbooks ever written?

You love your broad generalizations don't you. The obvious answer is "No, of course not." The mental gymnastics to reach that conclusion would have been impressive to see, although I think we'd need a high speed camera to see the real art in the performance (see below.)

Think about the statement you just made.

I tend to think about my statements quite extensively. Maybe you should take a little more time to do the same. The evidence suggests that you reply in a reflexive manner...

pretty flowers happy clouds fluffy dolphins

Gold: So far you've done nothing to bestow any trust in your understanding of the field simply from your resistance to provide any study to back up your point, let alone a peer-reviewed one.

*** Again with the peer reviewed journal thing? A fair amount of original research must really piss you off then, no? And all those peer reviewed articles in quack journals (some of the chiropractic ones spring to mind at this point) must present a few difficulties, eh?

I've pointed to both primary research and other indicative information. You've moved the goalposts each time. You've focussed on one point that I've addressed (& I assume that you simply haven't seen so far, just to give you the benefit of the doubt). I honestly don't know what more can be done: you're engaging in the very things you decry and ignore the substantive points of the discussion.

Gold: Consider these two positions;

If I was to take what you claim at face value and ended up in a conversation and quoted your position as we currently stand I'm falling into the fallacy of an appeal to authority. This is bad.

If I was to take what you claim, backed up by a peer-reviewed study, and ended up in a conversation and quoted your position I'd be in a position of being able to claim at least a minor consensus of opinion within the qualified professionals in the field. More studies would strengthen that consensus. This puts me in a stronger position to base my position in the discussion on and avoids the obvious fallacy of the previous position.

*** You do realize that there are two forms of the appeal to authority argument? One is logically valid and the other isn't. The version that most people use is the invalid version, where the authority is not a recognized expert or expertise cannot be ascertained. It's what you did when you said you would check by "crowd sourcing". I even pointed out that it was an invalid move and asked that you use the same standards you asked of me. You then claimed I was moving the goalposts by doing that. You then ignored the point entirely. I gave you a couple of example contrasts to SM. You then stated they didn't agree so they can't be trusted. Even other skeptics recognize that as a false response. http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html#conflict

I'm assuming that you haven't noticed, but you're engaging in most of the very things you're mistakenly accusing me of. :)

If you genuinely have no

If you genuinely have no interest in reading a book then try these sites instead -

How does "I can't afford it" and "I literally have no time" equate to "no interest"?

You're not very good at this. False assumptions and leaping to conclusions like this will win you little respect.

http://www.dharma-haven.org/science/myth-of-scientific-method.htm

This appears to be an explanation of one persons acceptance of the position you are promoting.

Not really anything that supports your claim though. Looking at inbound links to the site there's not really anyone out there that considers this site worth linking to either.

A (non) random selection of attacks on SM -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Against_Method
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feyerabend/#2.13

Again, one person writing on the topic.

http://philoscience.unibe.ch/documents/TexteFS11/Lakatos1977.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imre_Lakatos#Research_programmes

You describe these as "attacks on SM". Feyerabend disagrees with the methodology Lakatos proposed claiming it was not a methodology at all, but merely "words that sound like the elements of a methodology."

It appears your proponents can't even agree among themselves. Hardly invokes a sense of confidence.

http://des.emory.edu/mfp/Kuhn.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Samuel_Kuhn#The_Structure_of_Scienti...

I'm seeing a lot of comparisons to historical situations and trying to jam them into a current day context and using that mashup to explain what's wrong with the scientific method.

My general feeling with respect to what you've shown me here is that it's unconvincing. It's almost as if these guys had some ideas, that couldn't be tested within the scientific method as it was at the time and tried to explain why the Scientific Method isn't good enough.

It has the feel of taking something solid that has a proven track record and replacing it with something that involves "hand-waving" and "making shit up".

And you're saying *I'm*

And you're saying *I'm* moving the goalposts?! :)

Evan: If you genuinely have no interest in reading a book then try these sites instead -

Gold: How does "I can't afford it" and "I literally have no time" equate to "no interest"?

*** It's a leading question, not a statement. English does that.

Gold: You're not very good at this. False assumptions and leaping to conclusions like this will win you little respect.

*** Spare me the insults and discuss the points, please. Show me a false assumption if you're going to make the accusation. want sources and lemon notation for your statement too.

Evan: http://www.dharma-haven.org/science/myth-of-scientific-method.htm

Gold: This appears to be an explanation of one persons acceptance of the position you are promoting.

*** And that's you engaging in ad hoc rationalization by implication. Of course it's one persons advocating the position: you demanded sources and I provided one. One that included embedded citations and sources. Sources are always going to be by someone, unless you're expecting sources from committees, perhaps? ;)

Gold: Not really anything that supports your claim though. Looking at inbound links to the site there's not really anyone out there that considers this site worth linking to either.

** The second part is irrelevant. Popular acclaim (or links in) does not denote truth value. The reality is that SM is not what you think it is and is not a settled "fact" (choose your own linguistic label): it is open to discussion, and is so discussed. You're dancing around the subject and refusing to acknowledge it. That's intellectually dishonest and I expect better from you.

Evan: A (non) random selection of attacks on SM -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Against_Method
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feyerabend/#2.13

Gold: Again, one person writing on the topic.

So what? It's also a recognized expert on the subject. You are simply saying it's only one person writing about it., yet you're not saying why that fact is important. What is the magical number of people that have to write about it before it becomes relevant here? What number do I have to quote to not count as moving the goalposts, for you? Be specific. Back up your demand for some unknown and currently unrevealed number with citations and sources and statistics. I demand recursion analysis to make sure we all know the MoE. Etc., etc.

And I'll say it again: you're accusing *me* of moving the goal posts?!

Evan: http://philoscience.unibe.ch/documents/TexteFS11/Lakatos1977.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imre_Lakatos#Research_programmes

Gold: You describe these as "attacks on SM". Feyerabend disagrees with the methodology Lakatos proposed claiming it was not a methodology at all, but merely "words that sound like the elements of a methodology."

It appears your proponents can't even agree among themselves. Hardly invokes a sense of confidence.

*** Misdirection. Deal with the positions if you think they're wrong, don't simply describe them. You demanded some examples of sources. I gave you some, including primary sources. Whether you like it or not, SM is not a settled field. Unsettled fields have disagreements and discussions. *That's* the nature of academic progress. It is genuinely bizarre that you would bring that up as if it were a *failing*. If you're going to argue SM is the be all and end all then disagree and postulation of alternatives is something you should be supporting and taking as indications that they *are* engaging in science themselves!

Evan: http://des.emory.edu/mfp/Kuhn.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Samuel_Kuhn#The_Structure_of_Scienti...

Gold: I'm seeing a lot of comparisons to historical situations and trying to jam them into a current day context and using that mashup to explain what's wrong with the scientific method.

*** Welcome to scientific enquiry. It's not always neat and tidy. Nor does it always use SM. But beyond that, are you qualified to comment like that? You see, you've created this interesting position for yourself: you're demanding sources and citations and expertise, but when those are provided you're simply explaining them away. What makes you a credible source to dismiss them that way? You don't provide any actual argumentation. "Oh, that's just one guy" doesn't count. "There's no links in/other people agreeing with her." also doesn't cut it. *You* have to meet the same standards you're demanding of others. If you're going to dismiss them out of hand then *you* have to provide a credible reason why you are able to do so. Published research papers in the field? PhD in the subject area? Undergrad courses in the area? Read a book about it once? Where does your expertise come from and why should anyone accept your otherwise unsupported assertions on the subject? (Am I doing better now?)

Gold: My general feeling with respect to what you've shown me here is that it's unconvincing. It's almost as if these guys had some ideas, that couldn't be tested within the scientific method as it was at the time and tried to explain why the Scientific Method isn't good enough.

It has the feel of taking something solid that has a proven track record and replacing it with something that involves "hand-waving" and "making shit up".

*** Well, possibly that's because I'm not very good at this. Or possibly quoting people from the field isn't good enough for you. Possibly you're better at this, and more qualified, and have provided us with a detailed response (with primary sources and stats). Possibly I need to provide *every* quote from *everyone* working in the field, with sources and stats and detailed logical analysis using Lemon's notation to show that their arguments are sound. Possibly it is people "just making shit up" because after all, science never postulates a theory and tests it does it because that's just bad isn't it oh wait what about the very thing you are defending shit that's not a good argument from you in *favour* of SM if "just making shit up" is always and ever bad. Possibly run on sentences are bad, but sometimes they might have a purpose.

Etc. :)

Gold: You're not very good at

Gold: You're not very good at this. False assumptions and leaping to conclusions like this will win you little respect.

*** Spare me the insults and discuss the points, please.

Not an insult, just personal observation.

Show me a false assumption if you're going to make the accusation.

Let's consider the statement immediately before this request...

False assumption begins+++
Evan: If you genuinely have no interest in reading a book then try these sites instead -

Gold: How does "I can't afford it" and "I literally have no time" equate to "no interest"?
+++

If/then statement. Not an

If/then statement. Not an assumption. If anything, a question. I asked for a false assumption. You haven't shown one yet. Moreover, it is irrelevant to the point under discussion. You're busily concentrating on throwaway items and ignoring the substantive points: you were simply wrong when you equated "theory" to "theoretical model" and you are equally mistaken in your beliefs about the position and usefulness of SM.

You've done little but move goalposts, evade, and equivocate. You're also not qualified (apparently a very important concern for you (see what I did there?)) to know/state whether I'm good at this or not. :) ;)

I'd be pretty keen to hear

I'd be pretty keen to hear what has replaced the scientific method as well... Sounds to me like it's a bit of "seepage" from those who dislike the way the SM tends to dissolve unsubstantiated yet cherished beliefs.

No, more like five years

No, more like five years studying Philosophy of Science and knowing what I'm talking about. :) But hey, argumentum ad hominem away! (look, see, I can use boring Latin in response to heckling)

Look, I'm not about to spend my time getting into this here. If you're interested then do some reading on the subject. The book I mentioned to Gold has an excellent discussion across a number of people, including the more well known ones of the last ~150 years - Popper (you might have heard of him...), Kuhn, Lakatos (my personal favourite and an absolute pleasure to read), and Feyerabend are all often mentioned as some of the leading lights. There's certainly a whole lot more that cover the field in general and specific areas as well.

Ah well no ad hom intended

Ah well no ad hom intended but having re read I can see how you'd assume it, my apologies. Are you deliberately being condescending in your tone?

Tone? In written language?

ETA: meh. :)

Q.E.D. :)

Q.E.D. :)

I don't get it: you're more

I don't get it: you're more interested in feeling smug than in chatting about what you (I assume) see as mistakes in what was written? And you say *I'm* the one that is being condescending?!

"The chiropractic vertebral

"The chiropractic vertebral subluxation complex is an historical concept but it remains a theoretical model. It is not supported by any clinical research evidence that would allow claims to be made that it is the cause of disease."

The way subluxation is being used here is to say it's an unsupported historical concept but it remains a theoretical model (for some/most chiropractors). It's clear that it's not stated to be a scientific theory, like The Germ Theory Of Disease. There is a particular definition for that and it must conform to observed data - A scientific theory "is constructed to conform to available empirical data about such observations, and is put forth as a principle or body of principles for explaining a class of phenomena." A theoretical model "is a theory designed to explain an entire situation or behaviour, with the idea that it would eventually be able to predict that behaviour." So it's an explanation of how it's thought to work, but yet to be proven (and in this case was never really scientific as it was driven off anecdotal evidence and subsequently disproven. This is rather like you have theoretical models in nursing that seek to explain what and how nurses do what they do. Usually they suffice fairly well as an explanation, but in no way is it a "theory of nursing".

They are quite different things and so while still using weasel words they are actually being quite honest and saying yes, we have this model, but no, it's not supported by any evidence and it's only a historical one. They could go one step better and discard it though.

I also wouldn't conflate the scientific method with the theory, or philosophy of science. The scientific method is the *practice* of science...the Scientific method "refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge." Within this, there are theoretical models as well - the classical method and the pragmatic model. It follows a predictable path - characterising, hypotheses, prediction and experiment. (definitions from Wikipedia)

"Beyond that, I wouldn't put too much faith in the 'scientific method". It's not how most science is done and phil of science has moved on quite a bit since that idea was put forward. I know it's all they teach in schools, and indeed in most departments in most universities, but it's not as clear cut as that."

I think you are obviously driving off a whole different definition there, and I scent a whiff of post-modernism in those writings.

That myth of scientific method site for example gets it wrong, and argues in one part that an explicit theory has to be in place and that the scientific method is about testing a or to a theory:

"It's difficult to think clearly about the magical "scientific method" -- it may seem simple but actually quite complicated. It is supposed to be a general schema that explains for all sciences in all stages of their development how theories depend on evidence."........"In fact, no explicit theory is required at all for scientists to learn from surprising discoveries. The first person to see microorganisms moving around in a drop of pond water had no theory stating that they should be there, or that they shouldn't be there."......"The magic "method" implies that scientific progress is impossible without a theory to test."

That's incorrect, and in fact in the second quote they are conflating the process of discovery in with the process of creating a hypothesis and testing the data derived from that discovery. No theory is required there and it's a constructed limitation on the scientific method that doesn't actually exist. To speak to the specific example in that text, what actually happened there was that disease was popularly believed to be caused by miasms (bad air), but others had suggested there may be something transmissible there. Then there was the discovery that there were such things as micro-organisms that could be observed, and it took several hundred years after that to fully refine the theory with ideas such as "spontaneous generation" being discarded over the years as they didn't correspond with observation and other ideas being added in because they did. The theory is the end point, the method is the structure for how we get there that reduces error as it tries to give form to the process of scientific discovery and help scientists gain objectivity. It's basically a big strawman argument. It's the author that constrains science to definite principles and structures when the scientific method is really a just a framework that you work within and there are not the constraints there they say there are. They really don't help themselves by characterising it as a "magic method" as if it's a formulaic thing and everyone else is just an idiot that can't work it out.

Now *that's* a good reply.

Now *that's* a good reply. :)

""Beyond that, I wouldn't put too much faith in the 'scientific method". It's not how most science is done and phil of science has moved on quite a bit since that idea was put forward. I know it's all they teach in schools, and indeed in most departments in most universities, but it's not as clear cut as that."

I think you are obviously driving off a whole different definition there, and I scent a whiff of post-modernism in those writings."

I would agree with the first part - my underlying assumptions are clearly different from Gold's - and the second part is basically true, but hardly a crime. While I have little time for the pastiche of PM as a whole, I do agree with certain aspects of it. Problem (for me) is that I think most of it is as much a load of bollocks as, say, chiropractic is.

I'm not sure I agree with you about your second point (below) though:

""The first person to see microorganisms moving around in a drop of pond water had no theory stating that they should be there, or that they shouldn't be there."......"The magic "method" implies that scientific progress is impossible without a theory to test."

That's incorrect, and in fact in the second quote they are conflating the process of discovery in with the process of creating a hypothesis and testing the data derived from that discovery. No theory is required there and it's a constructed limitation on the scientific method that doesn't actually exist."

I would say the linked site's description of SM *is* how SM *is* taught and thought of in many places. Anecdotally, it's certainly how I was taught it at high school and university level, and it appears to be how Gold is thinking of it. But that is the point that I wanted to make: it's not how science is often/always/should be/need be/pick your descriptor framed.

I agree it's framework vs application. That's where I think Gold gets it wrong because he is essentially doing the same thing he accused the GCC of (conflating two related things) and as you say the linked author does - conflating an application method with an over-arching theory about how "science is or should be" done. On Gold's description he runs into problems attacking things like Chiropractic because if he wants to be consistent he then has to also put a number of other things into the same basket that I suspect he'd want to keep out of the "Not Science" basket - eg. most of environmental paleontology, a good fair chuck of genetic engineering (although a good bit of that *is* just magic ;> ), etc., etc.

I'm sure I've phrased this badly, but it's the day after thanksgiving and I've got a massive headache right now.

Evan - agreed, the OP jumped

Evan - agreed, the OP jumped to theory which isn’t really the right criticism to make. So we are on the same page there. That being said, I’d agree with the premise that use and promotion of the theoretical model knowing it’s unsupported isn’t really ethical but instead would use a different argument to criticise them leaving it in. Hope you are feeling better BTW, thanks for the reply.

I can't accept that Myth of scientific method article as any valid critique of SM and how it is taught though. If it was taught in a rigid "theory first" way rather than a process way then it could be argued that it's a recipe for inertia etc and should be discarded for something better but that isn't the case. I was taught it as a process you use to acquire and verify knowledge, other knowledge and theory being used in much more flexible way more to inform possible directions for research and to assist in generating hypotheses.

It's not what I've seen happen in practice either. Example: Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, discovery of H. pylori as a cause of gastritis and stomach ulcers. If they were doing it "to the theory" as is being claimed how the scientific method is taught and used, the paradigm at the time said stomach ulcers were caused by stress and spicy food. Further to that, everyone would have said that bacteria not only surviving the acid in stomach (which is as strong as that found in car batteries)but infecting the stomach would be impossible and this would go against them being able to find a bacterial cause that conformed with Germ Theory. They should never have even started investigating because the theory and current belief said it wouldn't work and there were other causes if in fact they had to conform strictly to theory before starting.

Well, they turned that on its head and rewrote history, famously demonstrating Koch's Postulates on stage by drinking a vial of H. Pylori and proving their findings. They followed the scientific method to prove their case, in spite of the huge difficulty in culturing H. Pylori, in spite of theory and prevailing paradigm.

Strangely, now I’ve had time to read through to the end of the Hawles article his “solution” looks pretty much exactly like the......scientific method. The same thing that he’s just spent many words complaining about. Ask a question (Characterising), hypothesis (hypotheses), testing (prediction) and evaluation (experiment). Even added falsification in there (What would show that the hypothesis is wrong?). The only thing I'd complain about is use of "imagination" instead of using that plus other knowledge to inform yourself and make sense of the observed phenomena. Not a good idea to not ensure that you've got something with a bit of validity and plausibility there when formulating a hypothesis.

"An alternative to teaching general scientific methodology with no cut and dried cookbook formula, would be to come up with a less misleading replacement for the hypothetico-deductive schema. In response to comments, I decided to have a go at that task, even though I wasn't convinced that it was a good idea, and I wasn't sure it could be done. I surprised myself. Here's what I've come up with so far:

A SCIENTIFIC MYSTERY-SOLVING STRATEGY -
Question: You begin with a puzzle, a mystery, a surprising event: You don't understand a phenomenon which has occurred, or which occurs regularly.
Hypothesis: Try to imagine a process or situation which meets this criterion: If what you've imagined were really the case, the puzzling phenomenon would make sense.
Testing: Find out if the hypothesis itself makes sense, by exploring its other consequences: If it were correct, what else should be observed? What would show that the hypothesis is wrong?
Evaluation: Decide whether the results of testing warrant accepting the hypothesis as a plausible explanation for the phenomenon. Consider the possibility of further testing, and whether other hypotheses might provide a better explanation."

Aside from my previous criticisms the linked site (Dharma Haven) is for Tibetan Buddhism and medicine, and I'm finding that article on many altie sites which does not help it (after all, you have to consider the source). The piece simply reinforces myths about science, like it's some kind of monolithic enterprise or some kind of ritualistic practice rather than provides for any real form for discussion of the limitations or otherwise of science and the SM. A source used is "interesting" to say the least, there is a chart in there claiming to compare the inductive method and the deductive method which says as part of the inductive method "Alter data to fit hypothesis" which surprised me as that's scientific fraud and not anything to do with inductive reasoning.

I go looking for the piece it's sourced from and it appears to be a spoof text that has been quoted as if authoritative. That is unless everyone must accept statements and illustrations that say things like "Artists conception of a black hole: Theories suggest it may also contain campaign promises, missing Watergate tapes and Jimmy Hoffa" or "Rocks are classified into three types according to whether they come from volcanic magda, sediments deposited on the sea floor, or your shoe." as if serious. Book here: http://files.chrispennello.com/tweller/Science%20Made%20Stupid.pdf Wish I'd checked that yesterday. I wouldn't be using this source myself as support for an argument given that.

Looking at the topic of post-modernism, I could accept for instance an argument that other forms of knowledge other than science have value but I think post-modernism is pretty much an valueless argument and invalid as a way of critiquing science or even for arguing value should be placed on other forms of knowledge. A quote from one of the pages linked previously about Paul Feyerabend says - "Although the focus of philosophy of science has moved away from interest in scientific methodology in recent years, this is not due in any great measure to acceptance of Feyerabend's anti-methodological argument. His critique of science (which gave him the reputation for being an “anti-science philosopher”, “the worst enemy of science”, etc.) is patchy. Its flaws stem directly from his scientific realism. It sets up a straight confrontation between science and other belief-systems as if they are all aiming to do the same thing (give us “knowledge of the world”) and must be compared for how well they deliver the goods. A better approach would be, in Gilbert Ryle's words, “to draw uncompromising contrasts” between the businesses of science and those of other belief-systems."

The gist from what I've read on him is that he's said objective data is derived from objective observations so that is circular and therefore it is as valid and the same as any other belief because they are just as fully formed in reasoning as science. Therefore belief in witches or Aristotle believing the earth was fixed because things fall straight down or the religious dogma that the earth was the centre of the universe is valid and even on more solid ground than science.

He's quoted on Wikipedia as saying "The church at the time of Galileo was much more faithful to reason than Galileo himself, and also took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo's doctrine. Its verdict against Galileo was rational and just, and revisionism can be legitimized solely for motives of political opportunism."

That all seems to be rather circular reasoning itself. This is a strongly relativistic viewpoint and one that is largely discarded these days, and as stated in the quote it's patchy and flawed because it sets up a confrontation as if they all are aiming for the same thing. Using that, he could say that church dogma is more faithful to reason despite that Galileo's position conformed with known facts. Reductio ad absurdum, but a popular one for those that see science as a threat because of it's privileged position.