Arbtirary thoughts on nearly everything from a modernist poet, structural mathematician and functional programmer.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Why I'm Not a Scientist

Science, I've come to realize is not necessarily about "discovering Truth" as most people see it. Rather, it is a way to further the human study of the universe. By this I mean that a good scientific idea asks more questions than it answers-- allowing human questioning to continue forever. Correctness from the scientific perspective does not mean "It is absolutely true." Instead, it means "It fits the data (roughly), and it leads to a new area of study."
As an example (and I realize the absurdity in it), suppose it were proven, absolutely, that God exists, and everything happens only because "God says so"-- there is no discernable logic, no actual pattern to predict in God's plan. It allows for only one question "Why this way?" which is to question to ineffable will of God.
Science, cannot and would not accept this conclusion; our pursuit of knowledge about the universe would be pointless. Doubtless, people would still continue to practice science, creating mathematical models of the phenomenon around them.

What's interesting here is that they would likely continue to find ever more "accurate" models of the working universe, even though they would know that these models do not, in truth, contribute to any understanding of the universe-- it is already understood. This implies a couple of things:
1)We find patterns in everything, whether they exist or not.
2)Any sufficiently complex language can model anything; even if there is no pattern to model.
3)The link between science and math is artificial.

Ramsey theory suggests that in any large random system (which the universe described about would be, for all practical purposes) there will be some sort of pattern, even if it is not inherent in the design or mechanism of the system. The real problem arises when we ask "Which pattern is it?" This question cannot be answered without enumerating the entire system, an obviously impossible task when confronted with the universe.

Science then, would be conducted in absolutely the same way if it were both useless and contrary to truth, yet scientists trumpet Logical Positivism as something that will ultimately unlock the key to Life, the Universe, and Everything.

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