Thanks Bohm - I was curious about what the search for Higgs Boson was trying to falsify following on from adamah's point.
Dawkins-The Greatest Show on Earth
Let me check what you're saying Adamah - what were the experiments to find Higg's Boson an attempt to falsify? A theory that it didn't exist? (genuinely curious because I found your statements on science interesting).
As Bohm said, the experiments were looking for evidence of the existence of a sub-atomic particle which better-explained observations than the currently-accepted 'standard model' allowed, so basically the researchers were attempting to falsify the 'standard model' in order to make it more accurate (in other words, to refine it).
Here's a summary:
(Critics of the project would say the work to find the Higgs particle was an attempt to falsify the hypothesis that there are limits to the willingness of govts to fund such science projects.)
The expansion of knowledge is analogous to how Einstein's work on gravity didn't invalidate the findings of Newton's from a century earlier, but allowed for an applications to gravitational conditions not encountered on Earth (eg black holes, a situation for which Newton's equations would break down).
What I like about scientists like Dawkins is he strives to be intellectually honest in explaining biological evolution to a level of probability.
You don't see that in spiritualists or creationists.
I can envision Dawkins being ardently striving and investigating close to any possible spiritual being if there were viable evidence
of such a being.
@Finkelstein - you don't see that from religious people often because religion is based on faith in certainties not probabilities perhaps.
As for 'spiritualists' (whatever you mean by that) - it depends which perspective they are speaking from - if it is froma direct personal experience they may be convinced their experience is a fact and therefore, again, not really a matter of probability.
what were the experiments to find Higg's Boson an attempt to falsify?
The standard model predicts that Higg's boson will have certain characteristics, including (among other things) that it should be found in collisions within a specific energy range. If the experiments had not produced results consistent with Higg's particles in that energy range, it would have falsified some predictions of the Standard Model. If attempts to independently reproduce that (lack of) result turned out the same way, the next job for the theoreticians would be to explain the absence of Higg's particles in those experiments (perhaps leading to a correction of the Standard Model, perhaps to a new model). It would be a setback in a way, but also opens the door to new insights. Discovering that "Everything You Know Is Wrong" often is the first step to a better understanding. Constantly challenging your own beliefs is what makes science work as well as it does, despite the human ego.
I can’t say I don’t like Dawkins the man. I can say that I don’t like the smugness with which he criticizes those who don’t agree with him, especially when some of those people are other scientists. He has been widely criticized for his “Memes” theory (his own invention) because it is inexact and impossible to “prove”. As such, it fails to explain or be a means to concretely show how Natural Selection has seen fit to give us something for which we have no need for, namely the concept of a deity.
I do make a distinction between the theory of Gravity and the theory of Evolution. The difference is that a scientific theory in general is based on hypotheses that can be corroborated, substantiated, experimented upon, etc. The important thing for me in that definition is the method by which that is accomplished. Often, it is reproducible and the discrete steps for the process are clearly stated.
This is the reason for why there’s a difference between the theory of Quantum Mechanics and String Theory. String Theory (better yet Super Symmetry) cannot be experimented upon or physically verified. And so, it remains a very plausible conjecture while still named a “theory”. Evolution takes on a similar aspect in that, while it is a very plausible conjecture, much of the mechanism for how it happens cannot be duplicated or demonstrated by experimentation. Even when there are reports of Evolution in action due to interesting mutations, they only support the idea of mutations but not HOW the culmination of mutations bring about a new feature, let alone a new organism.
As some have suggested, “Evolution in action” amounts to adaptations by certain organisms to their environment. That could simply mean that the organism already has the ability in its genotype to produce changes, not that it spontaneously arose. The observed change in itself is not a demonstration of a new evolutionary process which gives rise to an organism's ability it didn’t have before. That’s not to say that the process does not exist. But for Science, it is not a fact until it can be explained and repeatedly demonstrated.
This also brings confusion about the verb “prove” (/pro͞ov/). The parent root “proof” (n.) is simply a repeatable process which will either confirm a thing or to validate it. So in the absence of a verifiable mechanism (the proof), it’s difficult to, however likely, to make definitive statements about a thing, especially in Evolution.
Einstein’s theory of General Relativity is being seriously challenged by other physicists for assumptions it makes about Time. In fact, some scientists believe that they can eliminate time all-together from Einstein’s equations and solve some of the problems with the missing matter and energy (Dark matter and Dark energy) that is theorized must exists in order to keep galaxies from flying apart. So where does that leave such a “theory”? Well, it doesn’t mean it’s entirely wrong. It may mean that some aspects of it are in doubt. It may mean that some initial assumptions were incorrect. Ultimately, to me, it means that we need to look at things with an attitude of less certainty and fewer absolutes.
I know many who dislike Dawkins — but I have never encountered anyone disliking his writing style!
I'm just surprised, that's all... I find his style not only immensely pleasant, but he makes the effort of being clear in an otherwise complex subject.
Top notch prose, in my opinion.
Yeah. I think he's a great writer, just not a very accurate one in the way he proposes his affirmations (his take on the Anthropic Principle, for example). His prose is superb, being English and all. I just think that in the realm of content, he stretches things a bit.
You don't have to like Dawkins or his work. It's equally as irrelevant to the key point if you think he is the most incredible person alive today, his work is genius and he is the best writer to come from England since Shakespeare.
The question is that, when viewed objectively, does his science stack up? There might be some areas that are controversial or open to alternative reasonable conclusion but when taken as a whole, his work is accepted as scientifically honest and in harmony with the opinion of science in general.
It is not presented as gospel. It is not presented as infallible. He simply presents evidence that supports the view that life has diversified over time through various processes included by natural selection. If you don't agree with the evidence then point to or create something that demonstrates why it is incorrect. I am sure that if the methodology is sound then Dawkins will be only to pleased to accept it.