Potentially Refutable Hypotheses

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Hermes (February 17, 2011, 16:23:15 PM):
Being potentially refutable is one prerequisite for validity, not proof of validity.
I wouldn't dream of suggesting that Russel's teapot hypothesis was actually true. Validity is neither here nor there: it applies to arguments, not statements or hypotheses.
OK, being potentially refutable is one prerequisite for a scientific hypothesis, not proof that an hypothesis/claim/statement is necessarily scientific in nature.
Mefiante (February 17, 2011, 17:09:23 PM):
This is interesting, not least because by Popper's definition of 'scientific' quite a few scientists are indulging in non-scientific work. I refer to the likes of Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose who devote a lot of their time to hypothesising about what happens inside black holes, which hypotheses are impossible to either verify or refute.
One needs to be very careful here. Many real-world phenomena that are the business of science are not directly observable and can only be assessed as a result of certain consequences they entail. So, for example, subatomic particles can presently only be “viewed” by means of the trails they make in cloud or bubble chambers, or the scintillations they prompt in a detector. What Hawking et al. are doing is to originate and develop mathematical models and techniques in the hope of constructing an accurate model that reveals or facilitates just such observable consequences – as Hermes indicated, they’re generating untested hypotheses. But it’s more than just that. The models they build can also potentially indicate what else to look for. Hawking Radiation is one of them; being able to distinguish rotating from non-rotating black holes is another, as are the Penrose-Hawking Singularity Theorems. The last of these, when incorporated into a suitable mathematical model of the “interior” of a black hole (i.e. the dark side of the hole’s event horizon), could conceivably produce physical effects via gravity perturbations or gravitons or some other as-yet undiscovered means, which physical effects may be properly observable and so potentially support or refute the model. The principle to bear in mind here is that the cutting edge of science is always speculative. Testability only comes later. General Relativity, for example, went through much the same process, and it wasn’t even Einstein himself who suggested the experiments that were undertaken to test it.

As an aside, up until the most recent godbot fracas, I’ve never had an issue with the term “falsifiable.” It never occurred to me that one could easily confuse or conflate “falsify” with “forge” or “fabricate.”

'Luthon64
st0nes (February 17, 2011, 18:22:37 PM):
This is interesting, not least because by Popper's definition of 'scientific' quite a few scientists are indulging in non-scientific work. I refer to the likes of Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose who devote a lot of their time to hypothesising about what happens inside black holes, which hypotheses are impossible to either verify or refute.
One needs to be very careful here. Many real-world phenomena that are the business of science are not directly observable and can only be assessed as a result of certain consequences they entail.
Exactly. the problem with black holes is that--even in theory--there can be [em]no[/em]observable consequences of anything that takes place [em]inside[/em]the event horizon of the black hole; all the hypothesising is conjencture based on physics [em]this[/em] side of the event horizon. Therefore, according to Popper, not science.
st0nes (February 17, 2011, 18:23:42 PM):
Being potentially refutable is one prerequisite for validity, not proof of validity.
I wouldn't dream of suggesting that Russel's teapot hypothesis was actually true. Validity is neither here nor there: it applies to arguments, not statements or hypotheses.
OK, being potentially refutable is one prerequisite for a scientific hypothesis, not proof that an hypothesis/claim/statement is necessarily scientific in nature.
Yes.
Mefiante (February 17, 2011, 18:42:19 PM):
st0nes, I’m not sure you properly followed what I wrote. There’s the potential that processes inside a black hole have observable repercussions outside it. In the absence of compensating mass-energy being sucked into a black hole, the emission of Hawking Radiation means that the hole’s event horizon is shrinking and the spacetime curvature inside is decreasing. That is knowledge about events inside the black hole. Conversely, the event horizon and spacetime curvature are increasing in the case of a black hole that is sucking in mass-energy at a greater rate than it is emitting Hawking Radiation, again knowledge of internal occurrences. As I indicated, more inferences about internal action are conceivable from subtler interactions or effects such as gravity or thermodynamics.

'Luthon64

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