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Friday, December 24, 2010 - 6:01amSanction this postReply
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Here is a radio interview with Harriman. It starts about 8.5 minutes in and lasts about 13 minutes.

Here is a video-taped lecture that runs about 78 minutes.




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Saturday, December 25, 2010 - 5:54amSanction this postReply
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The radio presentation was unsurprising in content.  However, I was pleasantly surprised by Harriman's low energy delivery.  He did not claim to have a radical new idea that will revolutionize the education of scientists. 

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 12/25, 5:55am)




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Thursday, December 30, 2010 - 6:19amSanction this postReply
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Michael,

Speaking of the education of scientists, I recently listened to a recording of Harriman's 2010 lecture at ARI's Summer Seminar entitled "The Inductive Method: An Epistemological Revolution". It was basically a general summary of his book. But, he talks about how he and another ARI person have started a non-profit whose goal is to develop a new physics curriculum based on teaching physics inductively. He argues that this is needed because the US students are way behind most industrialized countries in science and math education.

My question is: if we're so far behind other countries in science education, why don't we emulate their educational systems? Instead of arguing that we should be developing a better way of teaching physics, like teaching it inductively, why not just look to the methods used by other countries? Do people really think that the reason other countries are producing better science students is that they are doing a better job of presenting the material or that they are better at intellectually stimulating the students? Could there possibly be other reasons that US students don't learn math and science as well as students in other countries?

Thanks,
Glenn



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Thursday, December 30, 2010 - 8:57amSanction this postReply
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But, he talks about how he and another ARI person have started a non-profit whose goal is to develop a new physics curriculum based on teaching physics inductively.
That is the Falling Apple Science Institute. There is a link to it on his book's webpage.




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Thursday, December 30, 2010 - 12:15pmSanction this postReply
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My question is: if we're so far behind other countries in science education, why don't we emulate their educational systems? Instead of ...



It would take a series is studies or meta-studies to tease out all of the factors and then determine which are causal.  Of course, the right theoretical foundation is also critical not merely to explaining the data, but more importantly, to discovering it.

2003:  US Math 29/41; US Science 20/41; US Reading 29/41
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD PISA (Program for Student Assessment) 2003 database via  2003 via InfoPlease

2007:  US Math 24/30  US Science 17/30
U.S. 15-year-olds trailed their peers from many industrialized countries. The average science score of U.S. students lagged behind those in 16 of 30 countries in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group that represents the world's richest countries. The U.S. students were further behind in math, trailing counterparts in 23 countries.
Washinton Post December 5, 2007 here.

2007: This study looks at some factors such as class size and finds none of the above to be significant.

This UNICEF "children left behind" study considers other factors.  (Cited in this blog.




The first question is why is being in the middle of the best a problem?  Denmark and Singapore and small compared to the massively complex continental span of the USA.    In point of fact, also, those nations do indeed have national systems.  We have 100,000 local systems. 


Comparisons are for our public versus their public systems.  How about private schools?  We have way more private and parochial (homeschool, etc.) alternatives that are not measured.

Be all that as it may, I htink that Christa Hasenkopf's blog commentary was telling in that apparently, there is no silver bullet or Holy Grail: everyone is teaching pretty much the same things the same way.  We might be making a mountain out of a molehill.

The short answer, Glenn, is "I don't know, either."  But I do agree that better epistemology leads to better teaching.  I credit Objectivist epistemology (and ethics) to my success as an adult education instructor.  I treated my client learners as peers.  Even as I lectured (required), I made the give and take as conversational as possible, knowing that from the front of the room, I controlled the discussion.  I could put on the board for later anything I did not want to discuss now.  On Friday, we took all the unanswered questions down to the lab for hands-on investigations. I wrote about some of this for Midnight Engineering magazine and cited Rand in that article.

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 12/30, 12:23pm)




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Saturday, January 1 - 6:00pmSanction this postReply
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I added my review of The Logical Leap to my website, www.washtenawjustice.com.




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Sunday, January 2 - 3:14pmSanction this postReply
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Mike,
Harriman says that Newton experimented with magnets floated on wood in a tub of water. According to Harriman, that the magnets were mutually attracted without causing a net motion of the tub proved that the attractions were directed equal and opposite to each other (127-28). That experiment proves nothing of the sort. Placing the magnets in a tub of water and measuring their motions, one might discover several facts, for instance, that some materials magnetize more strongly than others or (counterfactually) that different objects are attracted with unequal accelerations. But there is no way that they could move the tub, even if they banged into the sides.
But you misread Harriman. He's not talking about separate pieces of wood floating simultaneously in a tub. He's talking about one piece of wood -- laden with a magnet in one spot and some iron in another -- and then set into a body of calm water (such as a pond, for instance).  Here's Harriman:
He attached a magnet and some iron to a piece of wood and floated the wood in calm water. The magnet and the iron were separated by a short distance and each exerted a strong attractive force on the other. Yet the vessel [the single piece of wood] did not move--implying that the two forces [(1) magnetism and (2) resistance provided by the wood material] were equal in magnitude and oppositely directed, thus giving rise to zero net force.
If the magnetism and the resistance of the wood weren't equal, then there would be movement (wood bending/breaking) in the single piece of wood that was floating in the calm water. Note: I'm discounting whatever tiny resistive force that the water provides in addition to that provided by wood material. You continue:

Harriman goes on to say “Since Earth attracts all materials on its surface, it was reasonable to suppose (and it would later be proven) that every part of Earth attracts all other parts.  So consider the mutual attraction, say, of Asia and South America.  If these two forces were not equal and opposite, there would be a net force on Earth as a whole – and hence Earth would cause itself to accelerate.  This self-acceleration would continue indefinitely and lead to disturbances in Earth’s orbit” (p. 128).  Again, Asia might be more strongly attracted to South America than that continent is to Asia.  All actions would take place on the “tub” of the Earth within the same inertial frame of reference.

See above.
 
Ed




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Sunday, January 2 - 4:02pmSanction this postReply
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Mike,

Slighting ancient and medieval astronomy, Harriman claims that the relative sizes of the orbits of the planets could not be computed. (85; 86)  This was not true; and Harriman must know that because he says that Ptolemy estimated the distance to the stars (p. 88).  Moreover, if it is true that the geocentric model prevents such calculations, then the ancient astronomers must have used some other model, because the relative sizes of the orbits were computed.  The ancients did not believe that all of the celestial lights were spread on a single sphere.  They knew that the moon is much closer than Saturn.  On the other hand, (more reasonably) the geometry and observations of the time did, indeed, allow them to make those calculations, even assuming the geocentric model.


I think a category mistake (stolen concept/floating abstraction) is being performed here.
 
Inside a geocentric model, the earth is stationary, and you are trying to find the sizes of the orbits of other things (planets, etc) -- but, specifically, the size of their orbits around Earth. Now, in order to do this, you will measure changes in their angular position through time (angular velocity). And, for each angular position, you will measure the distance (the radius) from Earth to the object in question. For every instance, an angular velocity and a radius is calculated. The orbit is split up into hundreds or thousands of individual measurements (velocity & radius length) over the span of time required for the orbiting object to return to its original position in relation to the earth.
 
The problem with this model, then, would be that it might require hundreds of years to replicate (depending on which celestial body is being investigated). What you get when you assume that the Earth doesn't move -- but that all things orbit around it -- is a series of changing angular velocities and a series of changing radii (between Earth and orbiting object). In some cases, these objects will appear to move backward (to reverse direction) while they are in their respective orbits. This is graphically depicted on page 86 of the book.
 
Let's say you tried this and took 360 measurements (about 1 a day) for a year. You'd have a bunch of changing velocities and a bunch of changing radii -- which you could average -- but you wouldn't necessarily end up with your object in its original position (relative to the earth). And you are not done with your calculation -- you can't finish it -- until that celestial object returns to its original position relative to Earth.
 
You cannot stop halfway through, and merely extrapolate the other half of the orbit -- because your measurements won't follow a consistent (consistently "orbital") pattern. It may take more than a year of measurement (or even more than several decades) in order to be able to record an object as returning to the exact same spot in the sky.
 
The reason that this pattern -- or partial orbit -- will not be consistent is because the Earth (the supposed reference frame) is moving. If you assume the Earth doesn't move, then you will not be able to extrapolate the whole orbit from a part of the orbit. It may take more than a year of measurement (or even more than a human lifetime) in order to be able to record an object as returning to the exact same spot in the sky. And, under the geocentric model, you have got to continually record changing velocities and radii until that time comes.
 
An illegitimate mathematical shortcut -- allowing you to obtain an incorrect measurement of orbit size -- is to assume that orbiting objects have inherent but unexplainable circular motions (epicycles). On this view, every angular velocity measurement -- and every radius measurement -- are forced to fit into a recurring epicycle.
 
For as often as an orbiting object moves away from Earth (radius increases), there must also be an exact compliment of that object moving closer to Earth (radius decreases). For as often as an object slows down or moves backwards inside of its orbit, it must be shown to speed up just as much -- and this changing angular velocity needs to correlate exactly with the changing radius length.
 
If you try this, however, your data will not synchronize. The object will not be recorded as having it's greatest positive and negative angular velocities at precisely those times when it is both closest to, and farthest from, the Earth (as would be true of an "epicycling" object in orbit). The reason is that orbiting objects don't move in epicycles. You won't get the correlated changes of an epicycle -- because epicycles don't exist. In other words, you will have to evade some of your data in order to arrive at your "measurement" of orbit size.
 
Ed

(Edited by Ed Thompson on 1/02, 4:14pm)




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Sunday, January 2 - 4:42pmSanction this postReply
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Mike,

Unfortunately, say the advocates of this method, such testing cannot result in proof – and it cannot result even in disproof, since any theory can be saved from an inconvenient observation merely by adding more arbitrary hypotheses.  So the hypothetico-deductive method leads invariably to skepticism” (pp. 145-146).  Thus, to Harriman, Newton’s experiments did not validate Descartes’ (more correct) theory of light.

That seems to me to be unclear. The clearest way to speak is in the form of a syllogism or a sorites. A sorites of your line of reasoning might look like this:

a) Harriman said that the (arbitrary) hypothetico-deductive method can't validate anything,
b) but Newton's experiments used the arbitrary process of the hypothetico-deductive method,
c) and Newton's experiments validated Descartes theory of light,
d) and Descartes' theory of light was more correct than Newton's theory of light,
---------------
Therefore, Harriman is wrong.

Mike, would you agree with the the above? I find premises (b), (c), and (d) to be problematic. As for (b), I'd disagree that Newton used the hypothetico-deductive method, Newton didn't frame hypotheses in a vacuum (as the method is taken to suggest). As for (c), I don't think Newton's experiments validated Descartes. Perhaps you could explain yourself better. As for (d), according to Harriman (p 63), Descartes' theory of light involved particle rotation as the explanation for color. That seems to me to be less correct than Newton's theory of colors as primary existents, combined when we experience "white light."

Ed

(Edited by Ed Thompson on 1/02, 4:46pm)




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Monday, January 24 - 10:48amSanction this postReply
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Here's some more information on Harriman's book.  He has a website devoted to the book here.  On his site he addresses some of his critics.  He also mentions that he has received some positive reviews of the book, including one in the November edition of Physics Today.  That's big; it has a large circulation in the physics community.  The reviewer is Ulrich Gerlach, a mathematics professor at Ohio State University.  Here's the last line in his review:
The Logical Leap is the most satisfying resolution of the ‘problem of induction’ that I’ve come across. It not only shows how inductive reasoning comes about but also demonstrates that it is the sine qua non of progress and success in physics and, more generally, in science. Harriman’s brilliant work is destined to be the fountainhead of future studies in the philosophy of science.

(Note the use of "fountainhead"!)  Now, if you do a search for "Ulrich Gerlach" and "Ayn Rand", you get many hits, including this one.  It says, among other things, that
Ulrich Gerlach from the Ohio State University published a very interesting mathematics book titled Linear Mathematics in Infinite Dimensions: Signals Boundary Value Problems and Special Functions. Although not an Objectivist, Ulrich Gerlach based much of his approach on Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism.

So, you can judge for yourself whether Gerlach's review is "objective". : )

Thanks,
Glenn

P.S.  I forgot that Merlin already linked to Harriman's website for his book.

(Edited by Glenn Fletcher on 1/24, 11:07am)




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Monday, January 24 - 5:07pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks for finding this, Glenn!

Ed




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Tuesday, February 8 - 3:37pmSanction this postReply
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Ed, I apologize for not seeing your posts long before now.  Allow me to reply.  Thank you for forcing me to read Harriman's description of Newton's Tub Experiment.  I wrongly assumed that the two objects were on separate pieces of wood.  I still have trouble following him (and you). 
Post 6 ET: If the magnetism and the resistance of the wood weren't equal, then there would be movement (wood bending/breaking) in the single piece of wood that was floating in the calm water.
Can two children in a Flexible Flyer sled move it down the street or tear it apart by pushing and pulling on each other?   Please, this is not an essay question.  It works better for me in the form of a standard physics textbook presentation, with a simple picture and some equations.  My general criticism of his book is that it is wordy and therefore imprecise.  This is an example of that.
Post 7 ET: Inside a geocentric model, the earth is stationary, and you are trying to find the sizes of the orbits of other things (planets, etc) -- but, specifically, the size of their orbits around Earth.
I agree 100% that the geocentric model makes it impossible to accurately measure the orbits of Venus and Mars, for sure, and probably, the others as well, for all the difference it might make.  But the measurement is still approxiomately achievable.  The estimates made by the ancients of the size of the Moon and the Sun and the distances to them were also "wrong" but still very good.  So, too, did the astronomers of late antiquity estimate the sizes of the orbits of the planets and the size of the Universe.  I agree with your points -- and it was very nice of you to fill in for Harriman, doing the work he did not -- but they are not relevant to the larger point, that the medieval astronomers did estimate those distances. 
Post 8: ET  I'd disagree that Newton used the hypothetico-deductive method, Newton didn't frame hypotheses in a vacuum (as the method is taken to suggest). As for (c), I don't think Newton's experiments validated Descartes.
All I meant was that Newton's experiments did not validate Descartes.  We agree on that.  But Descartes' theory was more correct than Newton's.  So, what did Newton's experiments prove?  (Yes, I know... white light is comprised of colors, etc.)  Harriman does not explain why the right experiments did not support the right theory. 

The scientific method ("hypothetico-deductive") is not what Harriman claims it is.  Look: Objectivism is rational-empiricism.   What is rationalism?  Is it the theory that we cannot know if the sun will come up tomorrow, that only logic is dependable, that your senses can fool you?  What is an empiricist?  Is it someone who believes that the evidence of the senses is all there is that airy ideas are groundless fantasies?  (Something like Harriman's claim, actually...)  So, if Objectivism is rational-empiricism, then do Objectivists believe that we can never know anything because our senses fool us and logic is fantasy?  Of course not! As rational-empiricism, Objectivism holds that the senses are valid and reason integrates the information provided to create a predictable understanding of the material world. 

Harriman takes the illogical rationalists and the brute empiricists and grants them the field. Though, again, I point out that Harriman is something of a traditional empricist who claims that a hypothesis is a fantasy of the imagination.  It can be.  But that is not a good hypothesis. 

Testable theories are the heart of the matter. 

You cannot just make up anything you want. 

That is what makes astrology (and lying) invalid: they are explanations indeed.  I can tell you all day along about yourself from your horoscope.  When you say that you are not like the other Sun-Signs of your group, I will point to your rising sign... or to an occultation... or a sextant ... or planet in a House... I can explain via astrology all day long.   But I cannot predict.  I cannot put togehter a natal chart for someone I do not know, from that outline their personality, and find a match over and over at better than a random outcome.

The scientific method works.  It got us where we are.  The problem with Harriman is he gets his philosophy of science from Immanuel Kant and Paul Feyerabend and Leonard Peikoff, instead of from Richard Feynman and Barbara McClintock and Linus Pauling. When successful scientists write about what goes in in their heads, you have to accept that as empirical evidence of how science gets done.




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Wednesday, February 9 - 11:23amSanction this postReply
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Mike,

I agree 100% that the geocentric model makes it impossible to accurately measure the orbits of Venus and Mars, for sure, and probably, the others as well, for all the difference it might make.  But the measurement is still approxiomately achievable.  The estimates made by the ancients of the size of the Moon and the Sun and the distances to them were also "wrong" but still very good.






But the Moon and Sun have to be viewed differently under the geocentic model. Under the geocentic model, it is possible to compute and relate the size of the Moon's orbit (around the Earth) with the size of the Sun's "orbit." This is because the radii from the Earth to the Moon and Sun follows a consistent pattern (can be "averaged"). But -- with real-time measurements -- the radii from the Earth to Mars and to Venus will not follow a consistent pattern; and therefore can only be "illegitimately" averaged.

For instance, let's say you took all of your measurements during the days, weeks, or months when Venus was at its greatest length away from Earth and, by happenstance, when Mars was mostly measured as being closest to Earth (i.e., in that closest part of its solar orbit) -- or vice versa. What you will find -- after possibly a months-long investigation of the matter -- is that the relative size of their orbits was either way too similar or way too different (as opposed to reality).

When you call that an "approximation," you do an injustice to the word. By that loose standard, humans are "approximately" the size of African bull elephants (when viewed from far away). It is no different than taking length measurements with a hypothetical ruler which, itself, changes in length. To call that "approximation" is a disservice to the term. 
:-)

In order to really compute and relate their orbits to one another -- to mitigate the confounding effect of taking measurements only from partial and possibly extreme sections of orbits -- you would have to continue to perform measurements for at least several months or years, if not for several decades (possibly exceeding the life expectancy of an adult human). It remains to be seen whether ancient investigators took measurements over a timespan which extended beyond their own lifetime -- where such approximations could be valid (non-accidental) ones.

But Descartes' theory was more correct than Newton's.





Newton's theory did not involve errors of postulation regarding the fundamental nature of light. Descartes' theory did. Also, Newton's theory successfully explained the relationship of colored light to white light. Decartes' theory did not. So ... how can you sit there and say Descartes' theory was more correct? Besides fundamental natures and relationships of white to colored, what do you bring to the table?

The scientific method ("hypothetico-deductive") is not what Harriman claims it is. ... Testable theories are the heart of the matter.






No. A truly scientific method is not the old, tired, worn-out, 5-step, "hypothetico-deductive" method of (1) Observe, (2) Guess, (3) Predict, (4) Test, (5) Repeat. You could even say that Harriman's whole book was about debunking that oft-hoodwinking canard. Conventional, scientific "hypothesis testing" literature is rife with gross inadequacies (1-9), given the epistemological ability of a philosophically-matured man empowered with an epistemology superior to what is currently in widespread professional use.

Inadequacies not unimportantly predicted by, and therefore altogether unsurprising to, Harriman and myself (and Peikoff, for that matter). Indiscriminate use/worship of the faulty "hypothetico-deductive" model has all but turned the scientific world upside-down and inside-out. The reason that, in the cases below, science is all but falling apart at the seams -- is because of the undeniable inferiority of the "hypothetico-deductive" method.

Ed

Reference:
(1) [abstract] Hail the impossible: p-values, evidence, and likelihood.
First, p is uniformly distributed under the null hypothesis and can therefore never indicate evidence for the null. Second, p is conditioned solely on the null hypothesis and is therefore unsuited to quantify evidence, because evidence is always relative in the sense of being evidence for or against a hypothesis relative to another hypothesis. Third, p designates probability of obtaining evidence (given the null), rather than strength of evidence. Fourth, p depends on unobserved data and subjective intentions and therefore implies, given the evidential interpretation, that the evidential strength of observed data depends on things that did not happen and subjective intentions.






(2) [full study] Principled versus statistical thinking in diagnosis and treatment of stroke.
Evidence-based medicine must be liberated from bondage to probability-based statistics, which is founded on the notion of chance and random processes, and instead become established on the determinate processes of molecular biology, based on the universal principles of biological science.






(3) [abstract] Thinking about diagnostic thinking: a 30-year perspective.
... (c) to summarize criticisms of the hypothesis-testing model and to show how these led to greater emphasis on the role of clinical experience and prior knowledge in diagnostic reasoning; ...






(4) [abstract] Clinical trials are often false positive: a review of simple methods to control this problem.
Statistical hypothesis testing is much like gambling. If, with one statistical test, your chance of a significant result is 5%, then, after 20 tests, it will increase to 40%. This result is based on the play of chance.






(5) [abstract] Will the dilemma of evidence-based surgery ever be resolved?
The randomized controlled trial (RCT) is the most scientifically rigorous means of hypothesis testing in epidemiology. Discrepancies between established surgical and other interventions and best available evidence are common.






(6) [abstract] Level of evidence and therapeutic evaluation: need for more thoughts.
The first dimension deals with the design of the study, i.e. the extent to which bias is avoided or managed, the second with the quality of incorporated data. A third dimension specific to therapeutic evaluation focuses on the clinical relevance of the tested hypothesis. ...

The bulk of existing scales of level of evidence concentrate on methodology. Some may include the second dimension but none embrace the three of them. ...

Inconsistent existing scales prevent the emergence of a generally agreed standard. Therefore, there is a need to further specify the concept of level of evidence in therapy evaluation and design scales encompassing the three above-mentioned dimensions: methodology of experiment, quality of data, and clinical relevance of the primary criterion.






(7) [abstract] The mainstream hypothesis that LDL cholesterol drives atherosclerosis may have been falsified by non-invasive imaging of coronary artery plaque burden and progression.
That LDL cholesterol drives atherosclerosis is a widely if not almost universally held belief, and this belief strongly influences the mainstream approach to coronary heart disease. ...

... studies that address the efficacy of interventions and practices aimed at the primary prevention of heart disease almost always use event-based endpoints such as fatal or non-fatal myocardial infarction or unstable angina. These endpoints do not directly relate to the primary prevention of silent atherosclerosis and to apply these results to asymptomatic individuals in this context involves an extrapolation. ...

Consistent with earlier autopsy studies, the use of electron beam tomography and contrast enhanced CT angiography techniques have created a large body of evidence which appears to falsify this hypothesis. The large number of null results for the association between serum LDL cholesterol levels and the prevalence or progression of both calcified and non-calcified plaque in the appropriate vascular bed and involving large numbers of men and women over a wide range of age, ethnic background, plaque burden and cholesterol levels cannot be easily dismissed.






(8) [abstract] A practical solution to the pervasive problems of p values.
... p values are based on data that were never observed, and these hypothetical data are themselves influenced by subjective intentions. Moreover, p values do not quantify statistical evidence.






(9) [abstract] Prior convictions: Bayesian approaches to the analysis and interpretation of clinical megatrials.
Large, randomized clinical trials ("megatrials") are key drivers of modern cardiovascular practice, since they are cited frequently as the authoritative foundation for evidence-based management policies. Nevertheless, fundamental limitations in the conventional approach to statistical hypothesis testing undermine the scientific basis of the conclusions drawn from these trials.







(Edited by Ed Thompson on 2/09, 10:40pm)




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Wednesday, February 9 - 10:36pmSanction this postReply
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From the Wiki on: "hypothetico-deductive":

... any observation can be seen as corroboration of any hypothesis if the hypothesis is sufficiently restricted. The argument has also been taken as showing that both observations are theory-laden, and thus it is not possible to make truly independent observations. ...

... under the theory of confirmation holism it is always possible to save a given hypothesis from falsification. This is so because any falsifying observation is embedded in a theoretical background, which can be modified in order to save the hypothesis. Popper acknowledged this but maintained that a critical approach respecting methodological rules that avoided such immunizing stratagems is conducive to the progress of science.
--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothetico-deductive_model

Sounds a lot like what was said in The Logical Leap, if you ask me.

Ed




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Thursday, February 10 - 3:10pmSanction this postReply
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Ed, I am disappointed.  You cite a problematic argument.
This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page.
 
 And if you read the Discussion you can find out more.
 
Second, you can argue with me all day long about medieval astonomy and never be right.  You convince yourself while remaining isolated from the absolute empirical evidence: charts that show the distances from Earth to the planets.  They existed. 
 
This is the Scientific Method today.
 
Here is Richard Feynman on the Scientific Method.
and
 
You want to claim that the scientific method is not what working scientists say it is. You want it to be what philosophers (philosophers in error) claim it is, so that you can argue with them on Harriman's behalf. 
 

Also, you never answered what happens when two children on a sled push and pull each other? What if one pushes harder than the other?  Can they move the sled?  Shake it apart? 

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 2/10, 3:29pm)




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Thursday, February 10 - 9:31pmSanction this postReply
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Mike,

Second, you can argue with me all day long about medieval astonomy and never be right.
Not to be coy, but the same goes for you.

You convince yourself while remaining isolated from the absolute empirical evidence: charts that show the distances from Earth to the planets.  They existed. 
But the issue, as you originally brought it up (and to which I have been responding), dealt with relative orbits of other planets around planet Earth. A chart showing a distance, even if it is close to the average of all the distances of the planets from Earth (throughout their complete solar orbits superimposed onto ours) is still wrong -- because there isn't a set distance. Take any given distance and, most of the time (perhaps more than 99% of the time), that planet is not that particular distance away from Earth. 

It's not enough to say that charts existed. They not only have to be approximately right, but have to be approximately right for the right reasons. That's the main theme of Harriman's book. You may not like it, but that's it. We've made great progress with a faulty system of science and philosophy, I admit that and I am sure Harriman would, too. But that doesn't mean we should sit in awe of past intellectual giants and not criticize their methods when we see something superior.

You want to claim that the scientific method is not what working scientists say it is. You want it to be  ...
No. I didn't just claim that, I indirectly demonstrated it (through literature citations and quotes).

Also, you never answered what happens when two children on a sled push and pull each other? What if one pushes harder than the other?  Can they move the sled?  Shake it apart?
I thought you didn't want an answer. I thought you asked this question rhetorically. Do you mean that crazy, bendable plastic that I used to sled on? It's a kind of sled which you can roll up in order to carry. Are the children fixed to the sled or slipping on it? As I recall, these sleds were very easy to slide right off of -- I received many a chilling sleeve-full-of-snow from falling off of those damned toys-of-satan.

:-)

Do you have evidence to support your claim that Descartes' theory of light 'outshined' Newton's? Do you yet agree that science would work better if it wasn't limited to the testing of testable hypotheses -- but involved something more than that?

Ed




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Friday, February 11 - 6:27amSanction this postReply
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Mike,

You want to claim that the scientific method is not what working scientists say it is.


But that's just it. The scientific method isn't whatever working scientists say it is. That would be post-modern, relativistic, hypothetico-deductivism (for lack of a better string of words). That would be akin to saying that obesity is whatever fat people say it is, or that racism is whatever black people say it is, or that homelessness is whatever a hobo says it is, or that histrionic idiocy is whatever the political left says it is (or, alternatively, that capitalism** is whatever the political left says it is).

It lets the people most-directly affected by, or most-heavily involved with, something define what that something is. That's social metaphysics. But people don't get to legitimately define things in the precise way that they would want to. Instead, legitimate reasoning requires standards. Take these excerpts from the reference section of my post 12:

(5) The randomized controlled trial (RCT) is the most scientifically rigorous means of hypothesis testing in epidemiology.

(9) ... fundamental limitations in the conventional approach to statistical hypothesis testing undermine the scientific basis of the conclusions drawn from these trials.

(4) Statistical hypothesis testing is much like gambling. If, with one statistical test, your chance of a significant result is 5%, then, after 20 tests, it will increase to 40%. This result is based on the play of chance.

(2) Evidence-based medicine must be liberated from bondage to probability-based statistics, which is founded on the notion of chance and random processes, and instead become established on the determinate processes of molecular biology, based on the universal principles of biological science.



Recap:
The most scientifically rigorous means of hypothesis testing has fundamental limitations which undermine the scientific basis of conclusions drawn from it. This isn't because people are "dumb", it is because the hypothetico-deductive model is "dumb." The hypothetico-deductive model which leans heavily on the testability of hypotheses -- so much so it can undermine relevance, integration, and universal principles -- is based on the notion of the play of chance and random processes.

Something better than this is needed (as suggested in the scientific literature, itself).

Ed

**The political left is more involved with (attacking) capitalism than the political right is involved with (defending) capitalism.

(Edited by Ed Thompson on 2/11, 6:29am)




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Post 17

Tuesday, February 15 - 4:20pmSanction this postReply
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Ed, forgive me for not replying sooner, but I have given your last posts a lot of thought over the past four or five days.  It is too easy to break down into an argument.  For one thing, the very nature of online discourse is a dialectic of thesis-antithesis.  We never post long zebra-stripe replies over agreements, that's for sure.  And it might not be totally invalid.  But it does tend to make us adversaries, when we need not be.  There is a book Getting To Yes by Fisher, Ury and Patton, from a Harvard study on negotiation.  They recommnend that rather than sitting opposite each other, we sit on the same side of the table. 

I agree with most of what you wrote.  How could I not?  I believe that while I point out what I regard as deficiencies in Harriman's presentation from his lack of a defined audience, you are arguing the geocentric theory with me. 

I agree with you (and Harriman) that, as you say, "They not only have to be approximately right, but have to be approximately right for the right reasons. That's the main theme of Harriman's book."  That is the nature of objective truth. 

When we study the scientists and philosophers of the past, we note their successes and identify their failings.  To do that correctly - right for the right reasons - we must avoid presentism, expecting people of 2300 years ago to think like us.  We benefited from them: they cannot benefit from us.  Thus, the idea of the "atom" came about from a rationalistic argument: what happens if you keep cutting something in half.  Denying the infinite progression, Democritus identified a-tomos, the uncuttable.  There it remained until Lavoissier, Dalton, et al.  The theory of the atom created a problem: what exists between atoms?  The void - nonexistence - entails too many problems.  Zeno of Elea and other philosophers argued for a continuous existence, what came 2000 years later to be called "the ether."  And they had experiments to prove their case.  Empedocles of Acragas proved that air has weight by explaining how the clypshydra works.  However, as you said, he was right for the wrong reasons: his analogy to the pores of the skin holding in blood by air pressure exerted from without was incorrect.

I agree that it is important to be right for the right reasons. 

Without googling the answer, do you know when it was proved that the Earth goes around the Sun and when it was proved that the Earth rotates about an axis?  Newton had no proof.  He was was right for the wrong reasons.

My point is not to argue Newton, but Harriman.  Harriman's thesis is compelling, but his presentation is often hurried and as a result weak or erroneous. 

In my positive review on my blog and in the summary on my website, I say that rather than attempting to capture a new meaning for "inductive" Harriman should just call his program the "objective" or "Objectivist."




Post 18

Tuesday, February 15 - 4:27pmSanction this postReply
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The problem of the sled bears directly on what Harriman claims for Newton's experiment with magnets floating on a wooden block in a tub of water.

The kids are on a frictionless platform.  They can pull and push against each other, and likely, will do so in unequal and non-opposite ways.  The outcome is exactly the same as the two magnets assuming equal and opposite action-reaction of the force of attraction. 

I do not want to argue Newton.  We need to go to his own diaries to know what he thought, what he intended.  I do want to point out that Harriman's explanation is facile and, considered against the problem of the sled, wrong.




Post 19

Wednesday, February 16 - 5:48amSanction this postReply
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Mike,
I don't understand your point about the sled.  It's the same as Newton's magnet and iron on the wood experiment.  In neither case can the system move with respect to the surface it's on and in both cases the forces internal to the system (pushing and pulling of the children on each other, or the force between the magnet and the iron) obey Newton's third law (action-reaction pairs).  Harriman's explanation is correct.
Thanks,
Glenn




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