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Open Society and Falsification

Let's check

I've been influenced by Karl Popper since I read "The Open Society and It's Enemies" and by his idea of falsification.

Both of these are seminal ideas that don't always work and Popper's own thinking tended to be more absolute than the ideas allowed.

Let's look at falsification.
It's a way expressing how scientists make predictions based on their theories and then do experiments to test the predictions. It's a great idea because lots of quackery gets excluded by that sort of behavior. A quack proposes that waving a crystal at some water gives it special properties. That provides a way of falsifying the assertion.

Note that here 'falsify' means show a way that the assertion might be wrong and not that data is faked (I know - not a great term).

So we do the experiment with the crystal - the special properties don't emerge - hah! we might say - the crystal waving had no effect. The quack can be sanguine and smile. Your doubt in the process caused it not to work.
That's kind of infuriating, I know - but punching the quack in the nose doesn't make him wrong.

Here's a dirty secret.
It's not just quacks who do that. It's a regular scientific happening. Like huge machines were built to find the Higgs Boson - all but the last one failed to find it - not even a hint.

Did that mean that scientists stopped using the Higgs in their other calculations? Nope. The response was that we haven't probed with a high enough energy yet so the effect doesn't show.
See how similar that is to the logic the quack uses?

Once, in what seems like another lifetime long ago, I used to meet with a friend who was a 'creation science' enthusiast.
He quickly did a shape shifting move and started talking about "intelligent design" rather than 'creation' to block my move of doubting a creator.

We played that sort of intellectual game for a couple of years and were great friends. But in the end - he was showing that I was right. He'd be saying; "if natural selection was true then we'd see yada yada yada" (he thinking I couldn't show)
I actually could show
Eventually it came down to him abandoning the intelligent designer stance and telling me that god set it up to deceive me - or the devil did - it stopped making sense
We moved on to politics

As you might expect, my friend was a devout Christian.

He actually KNEW what society should be like - it came to him from the Bible and his preachers and his Mom. He thought there was a way that society SHOULD be like - God's way

I asked him why isn't society like god's way.
He said; "It's complicated" and went into some stuff about how free will is part of his plan and with free will people will get hurt if only because they make wrong choices.
He couldn't answer me about why god would have a plan like that.
And there is no way such a claim can be falsified.

Lots of people these days think they know how society SHOULD BE on both the left and right wings of the political spectrum. We see it on the right with ideas like 'real Americans' and on the left with ideas about gender.

My interpretation of the idea of an Open Society is that it's a society that can perceive problems and try to fix them without any idea of a perfect society.

We know from long experience that every fix to a problem generates more problems that need to be fixed. This doesn't mean we have an infinite number of problems to be fixed.
The old problems fade as we alleviate them
But there will always be a number of problems requiring attention

What do you think?

Star I present regular philosophy discussions in a virtual reality called Second Life. I set a topic and people come as avatars and sit around a virtual table to discuss it. Each week I write a short essay to set the topic. I show a selection of them here.

I've been thinking and reading about philosophy for a long time but I'm mostly self taught. That is I've had the good fortune to read what interests me rather than follow a course of study. That has it's limits of course but advantages. It doesn't cost as much and is fun too.

My interests are things like evolution and cognition and social issues and economics and science in general.