Thursday, November 10, 2005


I came across Popper's concept of Falsifiability the other day when I was looking for something erudite on the balance between freedom and security.

It reappears rather marvellously here. A textbook application: Sir Karl would have been proud.

Now, let's have no more of this nonsense.


Allan Scullion said...

Enlightening on several levels.

The world would be a better place if schools were made to teach critical thinking skills rather than this pseudo-religious nonsense.

Grassyarse ;-)

Thersites said...


While I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed in your post I have a pedantic point to pick with the Tech Central Station article. The problematic passage is:

“When Einstein came up with the theory of relativity, the first thing he did was to make a concrete prediction: he predicted that a certain planet must exist in such-and-such a place even though it had never been observed before. If it turned out that the planet did not exist, his theory would be refuted. In 1919, 14 years after the advent of Special Relativity, the planet was discovered exactly where he said.”

The 1919 test of Einstein's theory was the first test of his theory of General Relativity and was performed by Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington who observed the apparent shift of a star's position during an solar eclipse. No planets were involved and it was not a specific test of Special Relativity. A diagrammatic explanation of this classic test of General Relativity can be found here.

The author is described as one who “…teaches philosophy at the University of Arizona”, obviously the history of physics is not his speciality.

I have the honour to be Sir, Your Excellency's obedient servant.


The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...


Welcome. How nice to have you on board. Quite so, as I believe I have responded to you directly.


This is pedantry of the highest order and is quite probably deserving of a medal of some sort.

Toodle Pip!

Thersites said...


My cockles are well and truly warmed by such high praise; a peculiar sensation to be sure! I await my summons to any ceremony. Pedantry is a wonderful pastime except for the fact that other pedants will always find fault in the original pedantic rebuttal: it never ends! A list of the discovery dates for the planets of our Solar System can be found here, there was no planet discovered in 1919; the first extra-Solar planet was discovered in 1989.

The grammatical error in my original post, “…star's position during an solar eclipse”, merits an unreserved apology.

Your obedient servant,

dearieme said...

Oi, P-G, wotcha doin' sendin' us to a piece wot says "flaunting" wen it means "flouting"? Eh, answer me that.

ninme said...

How delightful! Thank you, all of you!

Deogolwulf said...

And that pesky Popper's concept of falsifiability flouts actual scientific procedure, and does so most flauntingly.

The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...


My goodness yes: well spotted.


Aren't we always?


My goodness yes: Popper fails his own test: what can this mean? I suspect we need you to tell us....

Toodle Pip!

Gandalf said...

Up to a point, Lord Copper.

The philosopher from Arizona seems to be claiming that Darwinism is falsifiable.

How, exactly?

My guess is that even if chunks of Unix kernel were discovered in junk DNA, your Darwinians would still put it down to natural selection...

Just a thought.