Testable & Non-Testable Observations

The worth of a given theory is judged by the corroboration of resulting consequences with the evidence. This evidence can take any form – past outcome of a relevant experiment, outcome of specially designed experiment, specially designed to test a theory, evidence found in nature, ancient texts, inscriptions, etc.

Sir Karl Popper wrote…

Although I believe that in the history of science, it is always the theory and not the experiment, always the idea and not the observation, which opens up the way to new knowledge, I also believe that it is always the experiment which saves us from following a track that leads nowhere: which helps us out of the rut, and which challenges us to find a new way.

Lot of ingenuity goes into designing an experiment to test a specific theory. What experiments one can design and execute depends on the

(1) Availability of technology and, also

(2) Clear understanding of the intended/anticipated consequence(s) of a theory.

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Archeo-Astronomy is the science of deciphering knowledge of the past (dating of ancient monuments- their plan and/or construction, dating of actual incidents based on astronomy references of ancient epics/literature, timing of the composition and/or modification/updates of ancient documents based on astronomy evidence presented in those documents) based on astronomy evidence.

The astronomy evidence available in these ancient documents is invariably mentioned along with other ritualistic descriptions, analogies or omens.

——-

It is critical that a researcher makes a distinction between those observations that are relevant in the context of consequences of a given theory and thus testable (or must be tested) and those observations that having nothing to do with the consequences in the light of that same theory.
An illustration may make this point clear:

Mahabharata text has numerous descriptions of omens, any time a disastrous situation was anticipated. (GP version) Bhishma Parva Adhyaya 2 & 3 (or Udyoga Parva Adhyaya143), for example, present us with list of omens:

Subjective statements (non-testable) such as…

– Many fierce dreams are dreamt (Udyoga 143:6, 30-44), Elephants making terrific yells or horses shedding tears and not taking delight in eating and drinking (Udyoga 143:12) or excretions of horses, elephants and men are in great quantity in spite of them consuming little food (Udyoga 143:14), eastern direction looks red while southern direction has color of weapons (Udyoga 143:28), Images of gods and goddesses sometime smile, sometime tremble, vomit blood, perspire and drop down (Bhishma 2:26)

Vague (unintelligible and also non-testable) statements such as….

– Animals go to the left of Durydohana’s army (Udyoga 143:17) while Deer go to the right of Pandavas (Udyoga 143:16) or auspicious birds such as peacocks, sarasas, chatakas and cranes follow Pandavas (Udyoga 143:18)

Descriptions of nature (simile, analogies and such) statements such as …

– Rain of flesh (hail?) and blood (water?) (Udyoga 143:22)

Crazy and/or impossible and/or improbable statements such as …

– The wives of many brahmanas are giving birth to Garuda and peacocks, mare gives birth to calves and dogs to jackals. Women give birth to four or five daughters all at a time, and these daughters, as soon as they are born, dance, singe nad laugh (Bhishma 3:5-7))

Astronomy statements such as …

– Arundhati keeps Vasistha on her back (Bhishma 2:31), Venus makes a parikrama near nakshatra Purva Bhadrapada by turning to the north (Bhishma 3:15), Saturn is afflicting nakshatra Rohini (Bhishma 2:32)
———-
A theory that postulates Vyasa documenting astronomy observations at the time of Mahabharata War, in the Mahabharata text would only able to test, with luck, only the observations from last set of data, i.e. astronomy statements.

This means a theory determines what is testable and not testable which in turn is determined by the consequences of a theory. While all above observations are relevant in the context of Mahabharata text, only astronomy observations become testable in the context of an astronomy theory. On the other hand, astronomy theory would have nothing – NADA- to say about why these astronomy observations were considered as ‘bad or good’ omens and why they were mixed with other vague, impossible or subjective statements – vague, impossible or subjective, at least in the context of a specific (such as mine) astronomy theory.

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2 thoughts on “Testable & Non-Testable Observations

  1. Pingback: Dr. Elst’s theory of ‘The Arudhati Omen’: Part 1 | Nilesh Nilkanth Oak

  2. Pingback: Response to Shri Shrikant Talageri – Part 7 | Nilesh Nilkanth Oak

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