1. Mark Dowson said,

    August 23, 2013 @ 8:33 am

    Time to re-read Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

  2. Faldone said,

    August 23, 2013 @ 8:39 am

    The book Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown had an essay titled, IIRC, On the Nature of Mathematical Proof. The only ones I remember were Proof by Blatant Assertion and Proof by Lack of Counterexample. I wonder if they had a Proof by Selective Data.

  3. Eric P Smith said,

    August 23, 2013 @ 10:21 am

    There's an old joke about an astronomer, a mathematician and an engineer trying to prove that all odd numbers are prime. (We have to take 1 as prime for the purposes of the joke.) The astronomer says, "1's prime: yes, all odd numbers are prime. The mathematician says, "1's prime, 3's prime, 5's prime, 7's prime: yes, by induction all odd numbers are prime." The engineer says: "1's prime, 3's prime, 5's prime, 7's prime, 9? 11's prime, 13's prime, 15? 17's prime, 19's prime: yes, all odd numbers are prime; 9 and 15 are experimental error."

    [(myl) There's a crueler version of the joke, in which one of the participants says "1 is prime, 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is prime, 11 is prime, …" The inattentive or arithmetically challenged participant can be the engineer, the physicist, or the mathematician, depending on your prejudices.]

  4. richard said,

    August 23, 2013 @ 5:47 pm

    More variations than at which a stick could be shaken:

    Sorry, coudn't figure out how to make the link live, given the short attention span I have on Friday afternoons….

  5. richard said,

    August 23, 2013 @ 5:48 pm

    Well, blow me down–it just worked!

  6. D.O. said,

    August 23, 2013 @ 5:57 pm

    Come on. This is totally legitimate way of thinking. The nature (or Nature) is awfully complicated and, unless you are trying to find a theory of everything, your particular theory will sometimes work and sometimes don't. Now, if you dreamed of some interesting situation, say that under certain conditions the evolution will go along the Lamarckian lines, why not to search for something that actually behaves like this.

  7. Colin Fine said,

    August 25, 2013 @ 5:20 am

    @Faldone: I assumed that book must be a retitling of "Abandon Walk in Science", which certainly contains both of those articles. But it appears to be a different compilation.

  8. Links for 08-24-2013 | The Penn Ave Post said,

    August 25, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

    […] 24, 2013 by Mark Thoma The Monetary Base, IS-LM, And All That (Very Nerdy) – Paul Krugman Shopping – Language Log Do Savers Need to be Saved? – Not Quite Noahpinion […]

  9. Jamie said,

    September 2, 2013 @ 7:20 am

    @D.O. I might agree if the question had been, "Do you have any data relevant to my theory?"

    But the question as posed suggests he is looking for data that will support his theory and not data that might falsify it; that is The Way of the Pseudoscientist.

RSS feed for comments on this post