Rus Articles Journal

Why we trust science? Part II

the Beginning

the Scale of philosophical losses after crash of a dzhastifikatsionizm was such that scientists simply did not want to tell long time about it. Theories stopped being part of reality, part of the divine plan which the science of modern times sought to open.

It became clear to

that theories are thought out by people, but are not found in the nature, and it was necessary to find anew reasons for trust to similar inventions of mind. Special sharpness to this question was given by fast rates of emergence of new scientific disciplines and, respectively, new theories: from quantum mechanics before psychoanalysis, from genetics to extragalactic astronomy. On this background positivism - the concept offered in 1844 by the French philosopher August Comte according to which only experience is the base of scientific knowledge became popular, and theories only order the empirical facts.

Positivism finally rejected the platonovsky ideal world, and together with it the question of “essence“ or “nature“ of various properties and the phenomena was removed from the agenda. For the positivist there are only facts and various ways of their agreement. “According to this thoughtway the scientific theory is a mathematical model which describes and systematizes the supervision made by us. The good theory describes a wide range of the phenomena on the basis of several simple postulates and gives clear predictions which can be checked“, - the famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking in the book “The World in a Nut Skorlupka“ which is recently published in Russian writes. This approach played a huge role in clarification of science from the far-fetched metaphysical principles which got to it in inheritance from former centuries.

Nevertheless still many people cannot reconcile to the fact that the science does not answer the questions “What Is the Space?“, “In What Time Nature?“, “What Essence of Gravitation?“ The positivist considers that these questions of a nenauchna and have to be pereformulirovana, for example, so: “How to measure distance?“, whether “There are reversible processes?“, “What equation describes inclination?“

Natural development of ideas of positivism. They are born only to die under blows of more and more thin and exact experiments. And then they are succeeded by new, more perfect, but still temporary theories. This look which is in details developed by Charlz Pearce received the name of a fallibilizm (from English fallible - “subject to mistakes“). Can seem that this point of view, being specularly opposite to a dzhastifikatsionizm, drops science value nearly to zero. How to trust the theory if we are in advance convinced that it is wrong? But actually the fallibilizm just describes process of continuous improvement of science. Yes, the scientific knowledge cannot be absolutely reliable. But with each new step degree of its reliability increases and if we profited, trusting the old theory, then especially we can trust new in which the found errors are corrected. So, consistently getting rid of mistakes, the science approaches truth (what it was) though will never be able to reach it.


the Evolutionary theory of Lamarck assumed immanent to all live aspiration to improvement and inheritance of the signs acquired at the same time. The research program of Darwin replaced metaphysical “commitment to excellence“ with mechanisms of natural and sexual selection that provided it advantage in explanatory and predictive force. In combination with genetics the Darwinism gave rise to the modern synthetic theory of evolution. And inheritance of the acquired signs was compromised with pseudoscientific activity of Lysenko. Today Lamarck`s ideas find limited application when modeling evolution in systems of artificial intelligence and in some researches on immunology.

Why god is not a hypothesis

Karl Popper, developing approaches of positivism and a fallibilizm, came to even more radical conclusion: if the theory cannot be refuted, it in general cannot be considered scientific even if for the rest it will be coordinated with our knowledge. Really, such theory does not give any checked predictions, so, its scientific value is equal to zero. He called this criterion of scientific character the principle of falsifiability and put in one row with requirements of internal consistency and compliance of the theory to the known experimental data. Popper`s criterion tells about unscientific nature of creationism - doctrines about divine creations of Earth, life and the person. Experiment which could contradict idea of creation of the world is essentially impossible. And, by the way, also the hypothesis of existence somewhere in space of brothers on reason for the same reason is not scientific - that to disprove it, it should survey all infinite volume of the Universe. It is more interesting that as Popper notes, “there is an enormous number of other theories of this prescientific or pseudoscientific character: for example, racist interpretation of history - one more of those impressive and vseobjyasnyayushchy theories which affect weak minds like revelation“.

the Principle of falsifiability removes also a contradiction between science and religious belief. The belief - if, of course, it original - cannot be disproved by experience. And scientific theories should not look back on trust as their only task - to order this experience. The conflict between science and religion can arise only due to a misunderstanding if religious figures begin to dictate what has to be experience, or scientists will try to make assertions about supernatural entities on the basis of the theories of the physical world. Both of these situations speak about philosophical incompetence of the parties. The belief cannot depend on experience as it is impossible to believe in the checked hypotheses. And the science can tell nothing about God as the principle of falsifiability does not allow its consideration from the scientific point of view - God cannot turn in naturally - a scientific hypothesis. All this became clear to philosophers in the first half of the 20th century, but reaches public consciousness very slowly. Still many priests from religious positions oppose purely scientific theory of evolution, and scientists with great feeling convince that the science learns truth and proves that there is no God. However, can sometimes seem as if religious doctrines and scientific data will obviously not be coordinated (for example, in a question of creation of the world). In such cases it is always necessary to remember that it is about products of absolutely different methodologies of knowledge which cannot contradict each other at all.

Should not think, however, that the principle of falsification relieved science philosophy of all problems. Positivism, being the direct opposite of speculative knowledge, too met serious difficulties. Brought concept of the scientific fact. It turned out that experiments, supervision and measurements cannot exist in itself. They are always based on some theory; as it is accepted to speak, “are loaded with the theory“. At usual weighing of sausage in shop we rely on weight conservation law, proportionality of weight to amount of substance and the law of the lever. And even when we directly observe some phenomenon, we recognize from the fact that a condition of the atmosphere, the optics of our eye and processing of the image in a brain do not deceive us (though numerous messages on UFO force to doubt it). And when using difficult devices long-term work is required by time to consider all measurements of the theory involved in the act. Then unambiguously it is impossible to separate the facts from theories, and in any experience comparison goes not with the facts, per se, and with their interpretations on the basis of other theories, a task of the scientist - to make so that the theories “playing“ on the party of the facts whenever possible did not raise doubts.

the Theory of air Is put forward by

for an explanation of electromagnetic waves within the Newtonian mechanics. Light reckoned as fluctuations of air - the hypothetical environment with very strange properties: firm, but almost weightless, pervasive, but at the same time carried away for itself moving bodies. The mechanical model of air turned out extremely unnatural. The special theory of relativity got rid of air, having made changes to the Newtonian model of space and time. It sharply simplified the description of the electromagnetic phenomena and gave the whole series of new predictions, the most known of which - the equivalence of weight and energy of E which is the cornerstone of nuclear power = mc2.

And cannot refute the theory too

Having analysed this problem and having studied real behavior of scientists, the philosopher of science Imre Lakatos came to a conclusion that experimentally it is impossible not only to prove the theory, but also to disprove. If well proved theory stumbled on new experiment, scientists do not hurry to refuse it at all, the trust to it leans on a huge array of the former supporting data. So single negative experiment and its interpretation will be called, most likely, into question and repeatedly rechecked. But even if the contradiction will be confirmed, it is possible to add the theory with a new hypothesis which explains the found anomaly. In such a way the theory can be protected beyond all bounds long as number of experiments always of course. The whole belt of protective hypotheses which surround a so-called firm kernel of the theory can gradually grow and provide its working capacity, despite all difficulties.

Refusal of the theory happens not earlier, than rather good alternative theory will appear. From it, of course, wait for an explanation of the majority of the known facts without appeal to artificial protective hypotheses, but the most important - she has to specify the new directions of researches, that is allow to build the new hypotheses which are essentially checked by experiment. Calls such theories of Lakatos research programs and sees development of science in their competition. The old research programs which settled the resource lose adherents, new - find.

“I mathematically proved that the theory of relativity is wrong“, - similar letters regularly come to edition “Round the world“. Their authors sincerely are mistaken, considering that scientific theories can be proved or disproved. They in a consolation can only be told that before the beginning of the 20th century most of scientists stayed in the same delusion. “But why why you are so convinced that the standard theory is right?!“ - are indignant with refusal a grief - innovators. Many of them even consider that in “official science“ there was a plot of conservatives who do not give the course to daring ideas to keep “cushy job“. It is impossible to overpersuade in it, alas, having even pointed to appreciable errors in mathematical calculations.

Kelvinovsky compression Explained

to the power engineering specialist of the Sun with its gravitational compression. It is offered at the end of the 19th century lord Calvin when it became clear that chemical burning does not provide the sufficient power and duration of radiation. The Kelvinovsky mechanism “gave“ to the Sun of 30 million years of life. Calvin`s supporters did not trust in geological data on far bigger age of Earth, including it a geology problem. In 1930 - x years the theory of thermonuclear synthesis offered a new power source of stars, and a radio isotope method in 1940 - x defined age of Earth in more than 3 billion years. Calvin`s theory nowadays explains primary warming up of protostars before in them nuclear burning of hydrogen.

I Will sell to

a paradigm, cheap

innovators usually tell

In justification of the ideas about “crisis of science“, “paradigm shift“ and the approaching “scientific revolution“. All this terminology is borrowed from the well-known book of Thomas Kuhn “Structure of scientific revolutions“.“ I mean the scientific achievements recognized as all which during certain time give to scientific community model of statement of problems and their decisions by paradigms“, - Kuhn in the preface to the book writes. All this is very similar to fight of research programs of Lakatos, and distinction between two concepts so and remained a subject for narrowly professional discussions if Kuhn`s theory was not apprehended, especially in Russia as the guide to action.

Kuhn under impression of crisis of physics of the beginning of the 20th century came to a conclusion about alternation of the quiet periods of “normal science“ when among scientists there is a consensus of rather scientific paradigm, and “scientific revolutions“ when the collected unresolved problems (anomalies) sweep away an old paradigm and open the road of new. But here from where this new paradigm appears, Kuhn did not explain, and most of readers understood so that its source - a creative impulse of the certain ingenious scientist. It became huge temptation for many scientists and even engineers who are only indirectly connected with fundamental science. Whether a joke - only think up a successful paradigm and you will be able to become new Copernicus, Newton or Einstein.


as a result formed the whole market of “new paradigms“. Some authors take rather solid basis: Vernadsky`s noosphere, Prigozhin`s synergetrics, Mandelbrot`s fractals, general theory of systems of Ludwig von Bertalanfio. But so far all attempts to build the clear research program on the basis of such general concepts remain not too successful as they are almost deprived of predictive force - the checked hypotheses do not follow from them. Others seek “to generalize“ science, having included in it is religious - mystical representations. But having exactly got rid of these irrational ideas, the science reached modern reliability and efficiency. For today association of science with mysticism - it is all the same that attempt to take the cart aboard the plane in hope for increase in joint efficiency. At last, there are many “modest oprovergatel“ who do not apply for creation of a new paradigm, and only try to destroy the old, say, theory of relativity, quantum mechanics or the theory of evolution. They just it is not aware that the research program cannot be disproved, and it is only possible to win competitive fight, having achieved bigger efficiency and predictive force.

But the most important that dooms all these attempts to failure, is a misunderstanding of the fact that the concept of scientific revolutions and change of paradigms suits only for the retrospective analysis of development of science. So beautifully and harmonously process of formation of new scientific views looks only from distance in tens and hundreds of years, through a prism written by winners of textbooks. And close even the most outstanding scientists cannot often distinguish what of the competing research programs as a result will be the most effective.

the Boom of homebrew pseudo-theories (the part of them is offered absolutely disinterestedly, another - with the purpose to gain title and to take its advantage) creates real threat for existence of science in Russia today. On the one hand, such theories distract on themselves public resources (money and attention) intended for science with another - reduce trust to science in general as there is a lot of noise, there is no useful exit, and sometimes (as when advertizing miracle medical cures) also the real damage can be caused to people.

I here, after everything that we learned about science intrigues, we come back to a question again: whether she deserves that special trust which to it shows society? Our world as we know today, is arranged quite difficult, and the mankind studies it for a long time. Therefore to learn something new and standing only the one who purposefully aspires to it can, leaning on the huge massif of already accumulated knowledge. It is possible to tell that the mankind is forced to consign the collective informative activity to a caste of professional scientists who constantly improve the methodology. In the last centuries the knowledge gained this way allowed to change considerably life to the best (for example, the average term of life almost doubled). This, apparently, sufficient basis to trust science as the social institute realizing an effective method. But it is very important to understand where science borders lie: you should not wait from it for what it cannot give (final truth, for example) and to be able to expose (at least for yourself) those who owing to personal interests are only covered with a science reputation, being engaged actually in something in absolutely another.

Scientific counterrevolution of the XX century If you ask

a question why the science throughout so many years enjoying the highest confidence even of people, far from it, suddenly in rather short terms of this trust lost, it is quite natural to address philosophy and history. The answers given by philosophers are submitted quite powerful that to explain such turn of public opinion. Scientific theories, they say, cannot apply for the validity; moreover: the concept of truth is “a transcendental monster“ of whom it is necessary to relieve any theoretical reasoning. Only the experimental facts are for certain known, and theory value - it is exclusive in economically to explain the greatest number of the facts. Theories at the same time are compared to soccer teams which have to compete with each other in an honest duel, explaining the same facts, and loss in a match does not mean unfitness of the theory at all - it should improve the equipment and to improve the explanatory potential.
to Very few people from scientists, however, were pleasant councils of philosophers, and in the majority they tried to evade from rough philosophical discussions of the middle of the XX century about what is science and what criteria define the status of the scientific theory. But these discussions also ceased over time, and Kuhn`s place with Lakatos was taken by representatives of new generation of sociologists who paid attention to that, as in laboratory “experimental fact“ “is designed“ more likely, than it is found. The same words in different research collectives can mean absolutely various things, moreover: the same words within the same laboratory can mean something one when are applied to the most this laboratory, and something other as soon as the speech comes about competitors. The correct relation to research teams same, as to native tribes on the Pacific islands: natives can do something useful, but understand about what they mutter, it is almost impossible. Communication with them has to be limited to “an exchange zone“ where we in return bring rolls of a chintz and any simple knickknacks and we watch that will offer us in exchange. Even to the intelligent person who is brought up on ideals of “the free market“, already unclear what philosophers of science interpreted in the middle of the XX century, but by and large he agrees with them: the science a little than can help it with sense of outlook, but its various appendices bear fruits extremely useful, pleasant and convenient. One cannot say that these theories were pleasant to scientists more philosophical, however they quite adequately reflect evolution of public consciousness.
the Developing situation is directly opposite to that which we got used to designate the words “Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century“. Throughout the XVI-XVII centuries inductively - the deductive method of knowledge created at the beginning of modern times by the largest thinkers of an era (Galilei, Descartes, Bacon, Newton) gradually turned into a basis of world outlook tools of any educated person. In the new natural sciences which united presentation of experiment with severity of Euclidean geometry not the set of useful data, and the certain outlook on life, the nature and society promoting both the purposes of knowledge of truth, and improvement of conditions of human existence seemed. Prior to the beginning of the XX century the scientist and the philosopher united, as a rule, in one person.
Parting of culture with science began with divorce of natural sciences with philosophy. About it it is possible to judge at least by words of the Nobel laureate, one of the most authoritative physicists of the present Stephen Weinberg. In its book “Dreams of the Final Theory“ one of chapters and is called - “Against philosophy“.“ Any scientist who made a noticeable contribution to development of physics to the post-war period which work would be helped significantly by works of philosophers“ is unknown to me, - he writes there. And having reminded of Eugen Wigner`s remark concerning “incomprehensible efficiency of mathematics in natural sciences“, adds: “I want to point to another equally the surprising phenomenon - incomprehensible inefficiency of philosophy“. And it is still softly told: some of his colleagues directly accused Kuhn of wrecking as they did not like its thesis that the science should not apply for aspiration to truth, and it is impossible neither to prove theories, nor to disprove. But to accuse philosophers of wrecking it is also unproductive, as well as to re-educate public opinion. The person by nature strives for truth, and looks for it where to him it will be promised.
Dmitry Bayuk, candidate f. - m of N, member of the American society of historians of science