Monday, February 18, 2008

Why definitions - in the end - might not really matter.

Is this really something that a mere definition can really bridge? I mean, on one side, you have rationalist thinkers, and on the other side, you have non-rationalist believers. I - for one - do not think that a definition alone will really solve any problems.

Of course if you do want to include correct definitions, one should require a definition of "scientific theory" in all science textbooks, including the very first science texts a student might get.

In any case, if this proposal were to pass, I think "scientific theory" should include all the following (and other scientific theories that other people know):
* the scientific theory of atoms
* the scientific theory of cells
* the scientific theory of circuits
* the scientific theory of [computer] computation
* the scientific theory of electromagnetism
* the scientific theory of gas kinetics
* the scientific theory of general relativity
* the scientific theory of global climate change
* the scientific theory of gravity
* the scientific theory of plate tectonics
* the scientific theory of quantum fields
* the scientific theory of relativity
* the scientific theory of special relativity
* the scientific theory of systems
* the scientific theory of the big bang

And you can also have (for those of us who don't think that mathematics is a "real" science), statements warning the students about "mathematical theories":
* the mathematical theory of catastrophe
* the mathematical theory of category
* the mathematical theory of chaos
* the mathematical theory of graphs
* the mathematical theory of knots
* the mathematical theory of numbers
* the mathematical theory of probability
* the mathematical theory of sets.

(Don't get me started on "mathematical theorems"!)

But guess the crazies on the side of the non-rational believers will say: "WOAH! So many theories! They must ALL just be based on wild guesses! SEE!?! Because a "scientific theory" is just a wild guess by stoopid scientists, and "mathematic theory" is the same thing with those dumb-ass mathematicians. Scientists and mathematicians are trying to pull the wool over our eyes! Only faith in the ONE TRUE GOD, three-in-one, one-in-three, the mystery of faith can save you from the fiery pits of HELL to which you will be cast if you dare travel down the path of materialist atheism so central to the godless, evil[utionist], heathen mob of Fascio-communist totalitarian goose-stepping Nazi mathematicians and peace-and-free-love hedonistic gay-loving transvestic-transexual-transgendered Castro-worshiping dogmatic idolater scientists! And don't say we didn't warn you!"

A part of me just make me want to let that area of the country sink slowly into its own "Age of Endarkenment." Let them wonder why they are being "left behind" in the advancement of modern society. Maybe we should make Florida a state-sized analogue of an Amish community (nothing against FL or the Amish, but it is the only peninsula that would be large enough to hold all of them), and send all the "scientific-theory-isn't-real" people there. Given only a few years of social isolation, anthropologists even be given a new opportunity to study a non-modern society without having to travel great distances. (Of course, by this time, the English language spoken by the "natives" would likely have migrated to something completely foreign - with so many similar-sounding words - that it would provide linguists an opportunity to create their own theories (!) of language development. It might even provide the US military with an impenetrable code that could be used like the Navajo code talkers were used in WW2.)

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