Psycho-Babble Medication | about biological treatments | Framed
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Zheezh! You turn your back for a second ...

Posted by Bob on November 18, 1999, at 13:51:46

In reply to Re: Uncertainty - Scott, posted by Scott L. Schofield on November 18, 1999, at 13:11:11

CarolAnn, I *would* agree with you about the "new thread" hypothesis, except that there seem to be five conversations going on here at once, so one new thread would be insufficient to hold them all.

Which reminds me -- technically speaking, it's a hypothesis that is refuted by one negative instance. Theories are not such simple, or fragile, creatures as to have one contrary case pull them down. Instead, theories tend to adapt to challenges until the point at which their underlying assumptions -- the issues that truly are untestable, those which are taken as axiomatic -- are demonstrated to be insufficient to support further elaborations that fit with observations and experiences. Or so says Kuhn, basically (Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, controversial in and of itself).

Elizabeth, thanks for those URLs. Don't tell me your dad is a defender of the (positivitist-empiricist) faith?! That's so passe! As for the bio of Laplace, I found it quite amusing to see that it was taken from A Short Account of the History of Mathematics. It doesn't mention Laplace's rather bitter feud with Newton over who "discovered" calculus (for those who don't know, Laplace developed integral calculus at the same time that Newton produced differential calculus). Newton mostly ignored Laplace, except for one rather famous statement of his. The story goes that Newton, when commended on the importance of his discoveries in physics and mathematics, said, "If I have seen farther, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants." Lots of people have wondered who these giants might be, other than Galileo, Kepler, and Copernicus ... but since Laplace was rather small of stature (it's that "Short" biography thing...;^), some have taken Newton's statement to mean "If I have made some great discoveries, it certainly isn't due to anything that Laplace has come up with."

Finally, as for rascally wagers (no insults intended, typing fingers tucked firmly in cheeks) while I am fairly confident that with the same materials and the same timespan I could produce a chain of events leading from plain, carbon-rich compounds towards amino acids and the pseudo-living interactions they can have on their own all the way up to single celled life, I'm much rather take a shot at having a room full of an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters whose task is to reproduce the King James Bible. To sweeten the deal, I'll also throw in the Koran, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Tao Te Ching and the Bhagavad Gita. And Horton Hears a Who. Just gimme a little time and a lot of bananas.





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