But, also partially because they do not understand rational philosophy and do not know that philosophy can be used to reject many of the claims that are part of modern physics.
Partially because they are used to scientists making these kinds of claims, claims which often agree with the philosophy most people have implicitly accepted.
Many scientists have implicitly adopted the view that they cannot know what reality is really like, so whatever they believe is the best guess anyone can make. They do not believe that they can fully understand what reality is, but they have to come up with something.
And they believe that what they think is true. So does much of the general population. Because those people are scientists and science is about rationality and the truth.
Well if science is about rationality and truth, then those who practice science must be advocating the truth. One could wish this statement could be taken at face value. Alas…
Only if the scientists know what qualifies as the truth and how to discover it. Which requires a good grasp of rational philosophy, which most in the field do not have.
It is therefore not valid to assume that just anything these people say is true. Just because they purport to be doing science does not mean that they are in fact doing so. Science is not whatever scientists might happen to be doing. It is a process which scientists are supposed to use to discover the truth.
If they do so, then it is rational to assume that most of what they claim is likely to be credible. If not, then it is rational to question the validity of anything they say which is not based on the scientific method.
Yes, scientists today often claim that they are operating under the scientific method, but this is often not the case. The scientific method requires a grasp of rational philosophy and how to design and properly interpret experiments. Many today do not know how to design or properly interpret experiments.
I should add that computer models and mathematical deductions do not replace the scientific method, which requires experimentation.
Yeah, so science is not what scientists say. Science is the process of discovering things using certain methods. Not of getting a Ph.D. and saying that whatever you say is science and that it is irrational to question you.
Let’s not go too much further into that today. We simply wish to give a very brief overview of some of the issues. The reasons these issues exist will be explained in some depth in later episodes.
Physicists often deny that philosophy has much relevance to physics, mathematics or whichever field of science, but that is just not the case. As we shall see, philosophy is vital to doing any kind of science and indeed you cannot do science without some kind of philosophy.
Yet, philosophy is widely dismissed as either useless or secondary to physics or other areas of science. Despite the fact that philosophy informs you of the basic nature of reality, how to think and is required to do any science at all.
It would take more time than we have remaining in this episode to make a full argument for why scientists and everyone else needs philosophy. This will be the topic of an upcoming lecture. For now, we refer you to this excellent lecture by Ayn Rand titled, “Philosophy: Who Needs It”. You can find the link in the episode description.
To quote the philosopher Ayn Rand:
“Philosophy is the science that studies the fundamental aspects of the nature of existence. The task of philosophy is to provide man with a comprehensive view of life. This view serves as a base, a frame of reference, for all his actions, mental or physical, psychological or existential.
This view tells him the nature of the universe with which he has to deal (metaphysics); the means by which he is to deal with it, i.e., the means of acquiring knowledge (epistemology); the standards by which he is to choose his goals and values, in regard to his own life and character (ethics)—and in regard to society (politics); the means of concretizing this view is given to him by esthetics”
Of course here on this show, we focus on the metaphysics and also epistemology.
In short, this quote reminds us that without philosophy, a scientist would have no idea of the nature of reality. He would have no idea what knowledge is or how to acquire it. No understanding of any of the tools scientists use to study reality and make conclusions or even how to reach any kind of conclusions.
He would have no way to know how to learn anything. Not to mention all the other questions which would bombard him. Which without philosophy he would have no means of answering.
And, as we shall see, the philosophies of many scientists have shaped the results they get in science and the theories they create.
Alright, we are just about done for now. Before we wrap up though, a few more things.
If you have not done so already, please check out the website on metaphysicsofphysics.com.
We are always seeking guest stars to interview or present lectures! So, if you have any suggestions along such lines, please email us and we will consider your suggestion. We have a couple of these coming up, more details on this soon.
You are welcome to send in questions about any of the things talked about in this episode or about irrational stuff in physics or the philosophy of science in general. Send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do we have for the next episode?
Ah yes, we will be talking about some of the typical anti-reason ideas held by Stephen Hawking. This gives a decent overview of the some of the issues in modern physics today.
Great, so thanks for listening! Please tune in for the next episode and start thinking of some questions! Until then, stay rational!