Welcome to
Science a GoGo's
Discussion Forums
Please keep your postings on-topic or they will be moved to a galaxy far, far away.
Your use of this forum indicates your agreement to our terms of use.
So that we remain spam-free, please note that all posts by new users are moderated.


The Forums
General Science Talk        Not-Quite-Science        Climate Change Discussion        Physics Forum        Science Fiction

Who's Online
0 registered (), 91 Guests and 1 Spider online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Latest Posts
Top Posters (30 Days)
Topic Options
#11985 - 10/26/06 07:00 PM Different Theories
samwik Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 1164
Loc: Colorado
...I should have written this before loggin on.

I think I'm trying to say that if two competing theories are both backed up by the same evidence, it's time to get a new theory.

There; that'll hold this spot until I can compose something a bit deeper (but Comments Welcome in the meantime).

sorry~~
~samwik

P.S. This has evolved out of some of the recent posts over on the Origins forum.
~S
_________________________
Pyrolysis creates reduced carbon! ...Time for the next step in our evolutionary symbiosis with fire.

Top
.
#11986 - 10/26/06 09:15 PM Re: Different Theories
DA Morgan Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Well actually it is at that point one reaches for Occam's Razor.
_________________________
DA Morgan

Top
#11987 - 10/26/06 09:29 PM Re: Different Theories
RicS Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/26/06
Posts: 310
Loc: Sydney, Australia
G'day Dan,

Do you agree with Occam's Razor?

I have a very good paper that suggests that pretty much all science goes against the modern interpretation of Occam's Razor.

And it is used in law way too much. The simplest explanation for an event, eg. the husband did it because the husband always does it (over simplification to make the point) is only on average more times than not valid. How would you like to face a jury that felt that way if your wife was abducted and killed?

Off topic but Occam's Razor is an interesting science topic in its own right.


Regards


Richard
_________________________
Sane=fits in. Unreasonable=world needs to fit to him. All Progress requires unreasonableness

Top
#11988 - 10/26/06 10:31 PM Re: Different Theories
samwik Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 1164
Loc: Colorado
But two theories are NOT better than one.

Do you see what I mean here?

~~samwik smile

P.S. This is not "off topic."
_________________________
Pyrolysis creates reduced carbon! ...Time for the next step in our evolutionary symbiosis with fire.

Top
#11989 - 10/26/06 11:11 PM Re: Different Theories
DA Morgan Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Occam's Razor applies when, in fact, two theories are otherwise equal.

Most science applies it ... many don't understand when it is appropriate to apply it.
_________________________
DA Morgan

Top
#11990 - 10/26/06 11:31 PM Re: Different Theories
samwik Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 1164
Loc: Colorado
Yep, and I was applying it rather obtusely.
Using the logic that one theory is simpler than two, it seemed like an example of science not going against Occam's Razor. We don't want multiple TOE's; the creationist would have a field day.

~Samwik

P.S. don't tell the creationists that physics has multiple TOE's


** HEY ** Excellent answers BELOW, BOTH of you...Thanks ttnz & DA!

& my old computer may die at any moment, so if I disappear for a while, that's probably the reason (email now not working!)
_________________________
Pyrolysis creates reduced carbon! ...Time for the next step in our evolutionary symbiosis with fire.

Top
#11991 - 10/27/06 02:23 AM Re: Different Theories
terrytnewzealand Offline
Megastar

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 1031
Loc: Whangarei New Zealand
Samwik, there is disagreement on how evolution actually works for example. And why would there not be? We certainly don't know everything. What I find offensive is when people quote these valid disagreements to argue the whole theory should be thrown out.

I suggest that incompatible theories are often explained when some unrelated theory develops from some totally unexpected evidence. The new theory is then able to explain the evidence used to support the two previously incompatible theories. The theory of continental drift (plate tectonics if you prefer) is a good example. It explained so many aspects of different hitherto unexplainable evidence.

Top
#11992 - 10/27/06 03:20 AM Re: Different Theories
DA Morgan Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Scientists often disagree about which theory best describes a physical event. And that disagreement is settled by experiments which demonstrate that one of them is a better match than the other. Sometimes that work takes years or decades but it gets done.

When theologians disagree about which religion is best they seem to solve those disagreements (Catholics vs Protestants, Sunis vs Shia) with swords.

It is easy for scientists, willing to accept that they don't have all the answers to compromise and, as has Stephen Hawking, acknowledge a mistake. It is far harder to do so when you've backed yourself into a corner by declaring you are speaking for an infalliable all-knowing god.
_________________________
DA Morgan

Top
#11993 - 10/27/06 09:08 PM Re: Different Theories
soilguy Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/28/05
Posts: 414
Loc: North Carolina
Quote:
Originally posted by samwik:
...I should have written this before loggin on.

I think I'm trying to say that if two competing theories are both backed up by the same evidence, it's time to get a new theory.

Or it's time for further study. If the two theories are indeed theories, they are falsifiable.
_________________________
When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
--S. Lewis

Top
#11994 - 10/27/06 09:14 PM Re: Different Theories
soilguy Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/28/05
Posts: 414
Loc: North Carolina
Quote:
Originally posted by DA Morgan:
Scientists often disagree about which theory best describes a physical event. And that disagreement is settled by experiments which demonstrate that one of them is a better match than the other. Sometimes that work takes years or decades but it gets done.
OK, maybe I should have read the rest of the thread before posting that last message.

There's nothing wrong with having two theories when the data and research done, to date, cannot eliminate one of the options. Having two or more truly competing theories can make for interesting debates.
_________________________
When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
--S. Lewis

Top
#11995 - 10/28/06 06:54 AM Re: Different Theories
samwik Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/10/06
Posts: 1164
Loc: Colorado
I like what's been said above. What I notice is that for each point I?d like to discuss, my comments would be contingent on how strong that theory was. Every time I read through this thread, I wished there were more words to use than just ?theory.? The word ?theory? should be broken down into a spectrum of words that would indicate the level of theory, from speculative hypothesis to super-theory.
Hypothesis is an awkward, long word, so ?theory? is often used instead. At least that is why I do it. If we have the word, hypothesis (literally, sub-idea or sub-theory?), we should also have the word ?hyper-theory.? Hyperthesis (nope; looks & sounds too much like hypothesis) could describe the overarching, well-substantiated theories like tectonic theory, evolution theory, relativity theory, atomic theory, and QCD. Even these listed hyper-theories have different levels of factual basis, breadth, internal consistency, and predictive power. I suppose every theory is unique is some, if not many ways.

Someone should write a book.
How about Meta-theory, a theory based on other theories?
Speaking of quantum chromo-dynamics (QCD), what about ?models?? Where do they fit in? If a model predicts very well, but doesn?t have a strong foundation, can it be a theory?

Maybe this has already been worked out.
Someone should read a book! (I?ll see if I can find one more recent than the 1930?s).

Thanks for the comments.
Feel free to continue.

~~Samwik
_________________________
Pyrolysis creates reduced carbon! ...Time for the next step in our evolutionary symbiosis with fire.

Top
#11996 - 10/28/06 02:22 PM Re: Different Theories
soilguy Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/28/05
Posts: 414
Loc: North Carolina
I use the word "theory" here with the scientific definition. I can think of only two levels of a scientific theory, offhand: an uncontested theory, or one with competing theories.

I think most people who use these boards also use the scientific definition, rather than the common definition, which often means "hare-brained idea."
_________________________
When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
--S. Lewis

Top



Newest Members
debbieevans, bkhj, jackk, Johnmattison, RacerGT
865 Registered Users
Sponsor
Facebook

We're on Facebook
Join Our Group

Science a GoGo's Home Page | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us
Features | News | Books | Physics | Space | Climate Change | Health | Technology | Natural World

Copyright © 1998 - 2016 Science a GoGo and its licensors. All rights reserved.