Posted: Jun 12, 2010 12:55 pm
by TMB
Shrunk, you said,

Right. Hence the need to repeatedly try to falsify a hypothesis even once it has seemingly been confirmed experimentally. Technically you're correct; no theory can be said to be correct with 100% certainty, as you never know if the next observation will falsify it.


Correct but it does not mean that the system is able to validate reality. It just means that within certain confines it is able to do this. Its not able to certify with any certainty what is false. I accept that it evolves and improves its capability as it goes, but its still a mistake to take a position of certainty on something being false. Take the example of the venom of the African boomslang. By all accounts (not science I know but I do not think anyone bothered to apply SM to this), this was not a venomous snake, and this was the position of scientific knowledge, it was not classified as dangerous etc, despite locals insisting that it was. What passed as SM at the time arose because of observations, its a shy snake, and has back fangs, so does not often bite and even then not effectively. However once observation included some incidents with Europeans, they re-classified it as venomous. You might claim that it proves the system is self-learning, and it is, but it still only provides the wisdom of hindsight.

However, after a sufficiently large number of falsification attempts have failed, it can be said for all practical purposes that the theory is correct with a certainty that approaches 100%.


What exactly defines sufficient? At the time thalidomide was certainly given sufficient testing, otherwise they would not have released it. What they had missed was sufficient time to measure the effects further down the line. They changed their minds once birth defects appeared, but once again only with the benefit of hindsight.

What is the long term issue that will come from excessive hygiene? Is it reduced resistance to infection? It now appears so but we did not think so a decade ago. What do we know about the long term effects of giving steroids to mothers expecting premature delivery. We know it helps lung development in the at risk, underweight foetus, but what does it do to them in the long-term. They don’t have any idea in allopathic medicine, because they cant draw any conclusions until they have gone through the process of a full study.

What are the implications of vaccination against measles? That it prevents measles we know, but there also appears to be evidence that a dose of measles allows development of our immune systems, and vaccinations might undermine this. Vaccinations of kids under 6 months now does not appear to get done much, again the benefit of hindsight, but no certainty of being right.

This means they are following this protocol without question because they can say no studies exist that prove long term issues. When I was confronted with this scenario for my own kids, we found there was an easy way around the protocol, it just required looking from a different perspective. Medicines flaws (all systems) result from human short sightedness and the inability to question prevailing wisdom.

As gets mentioned many times, the flat earth was a 100% certainty until we knew better. In fact it could not be doubted based upon what we knew about reality. The geo centric solar system was similar. This issue was the lack of open minds to what people knew with certainty.

Which is precisely the error Nancy Malik continually makes in this thread: Accepting isolated, uncorroborated observations as evidence even when they have been refuted by further, more systematic and reliable observations.


I am not in a position to comment about homeopathy in terms of how it works etc, except for the fact that it works for me and my family and has done many times. You might ascribe this to placebo, and perhaps you are correct, but thats just anecdotal to.

The second point exists because of the first. As with the evidence based legal systems, we are simply not in a position to repeat the past with exact fidelity. This means that real stuff that did happen, cannot be proven, although logically we know it is not because the past did not happen in a certain way, just that we are unable to effectively repeat history. This means that we are forced by the method to discount things that do not pass this test. This does not mean these things exist or are effective, just that SM is not effective in assessing them.