I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Another Darwinist redefinition of "scientific theory"

I have pointed out that dogmatic Darwinists often redefine "scientific theory" as being strong by definition [1] [2]. A good example is the Florida state science standards' definition of "scientific theory" as being "well-supported" and "widely accepted." That's ridiculous -- there are strong scientific theories and weak scientific theories. However, the description of the term "scientific theories" that was given by David HIllis in his review of the proposed Texas science standards -- he was one of six panelists chosen by the Texas board of education to review the standards -- takes the cake:

Some of the draft standards confuse the concepts of scientific theories and scientific hypotheses. The standards for the grade 9-12 Physics course -- 112.47(a)(2) -- get it right: "A hypothesis is a tentative and testable statement that is based on observation. Students should know that scientific theories, unlike hypotheses, are well-established and highly reliable, but they will still be subject to changes as new areas of science and new technologies are developed." This is good, but additional explanation may be needed here, given the common misunderstanding of the meaning of "scientific theory." Students should know that scientific theories are based on a huge body of scientific investigations, and that scientific theories represent scientific consensus based on an evaluation of scientific evidence (typically from hundreds of thousands of scientific investigations across many decades or even centuries).

I have not seen any standard dictionary's definition of "theory" that defines scientific theories as being strong by definition. If scientific theories are strong by definition, then what should weak scientific "theories" be called? "Weak scientific theories" cannot be called "strong scientific hypotheses," because a "theory" is more than a hypothesis.

State science standards should not define or redefine terms -- that will only create confusion. This is a particularly big problem with state science standards because of the possibility that textbooks will be tailored to suit state science standards -- this is an especially strong possibility in the case of the Texas science standards, because Texas textbooks are selected and purchased on a statewide basis, because Texas is one of the biggest single purchasers of textbooks, and because school systems outside Texas often adopt the Texas textbooks. Definitions of terms should be left to standard dictionaries, except where terms are defined for one-time use only -- for example, public laws and regulations will often have glossaries that give terms special definitions for use in those documents only.

The argument that the public is misinformed about the scientific meaning of the word "theory" is really getting stale -- probably practically everyone who has been closely following the evolution debate is aware of the controversy over the scientific meaning of the term. And it is the Darwinists who are misinformed -- or act as if they are misinformed -- about the scientific meaning of the term: they incorrectly define "scientific theories" as being strong by definition.

Also, the physics standards' statement "A hypothesis is a tentative and testable statement that is based on observation" is ambiguous -- does the hypothesis seek to explain an observation or is the hypothesis itself based on observation?

Also, state science standards should not philosophize about science, e.g., discuss issues of testability and falsifiability. It is impossible to reach any consensus about philosophies of science.

Definition of "process server": one who serves process on a state board of education in a lawsuit charging that state science standards call evolution a "theory" without noting that the scientific meaning of "theory" is different from the term's common everyday meaning.



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