This is a bit too much in the meta realm to fit in the High Energy Magic
What exactly is science? What does a theory need to do in order to be a scientific theory? What does that imply and what doesn't that imply?
The main view currently held by philosophers of science is Naturalistic epistemology
. Personally, my own views lean toward Logical Positivism
, though not too many people still hold to it. Here's a thread
I did awhile back explaining it.
But basically, here's how I see things:
Back on the Why God?
thread, Gerald wrote:
Okay, Gerald's gonna give his whirlwind view of Science here, though I'm afraid either I'm gonna preach to the choir, or go over people's heads. Or just confuse people.
On Theoritical vs. Observational claims
Okay, within science you have observables and non-observables. Observables hopefully everyone should agree on. For example, you take a measurement of temperature. Granted there is a question of what system of measurement you have, but still two people using the same scale should agree on the temperature.
Now, you make this observations, and you gather the data and record what you see.
There are then two ways to approach the matter. You can make a theory that accounts for all the observations and fits the data.
In other words, you can say something that is not helpful.
Now, what you should do is form a hypothesis that not only explains what you've seen so far, but also goes further to predict things that you haven't seen yet.
Now, in the process of doing so, usually this entails making statements on nonobservables, or, theoriticals. However, the theory should predict observations caused the proposed behavior of these theoritical objects. For example, atoms causing light effects in gaseous clouds. You don't see the atoms, but you predicted the atoms would have said effects, and they said effects occured. Score one for the theory.
Another you have to have are statements that convert the observations back to theortical. What do I mean by this? Go back to the temperature example. If I view heat has some amorphous substance flowing through an object, while I might observe temperature just like someone who says heat is mean kinetic energy, the meaning of our statements are completely different, and we have different statements that takes the raw data from the thermometer and makes them into something meanful.
Now here comes the fun part.
For this, lets go back to the early part of the last century, and take a look at Newtonian Physics vs. Relativity.
With Lorenzo Fitzgerald adjustments to Newtonian Physics, you can make the same predictions as Relativity. And make the same observations. How you describe things are completely different.
And why you pick one over the other is a matter of convention.
Oh, you can quote that "Simpliest answer" or "Doesn't compound bodies," but still, those are conventions that have been adopted in order to pick which one you want. And the one that's picked, that doesn't make it true. And that's not necessarily how things work.
It's just what seems to work the best. That's all.
I'll post more on this matter as I think of how to say it. But that took me a few days to figure out how to articulate.