The work of a Theorist or a Scientist

A reader wrote….

“I have now read your books, articles and also those by many other Indian researchers (N Rajaram, Frawley, Kak, Talageri, Achar, Kazanas, etc.). I have also read some work by Witzel and Farmer, Hock and Bryant.. but many of them are in their own gaga-land.

I still struggle with your comment that a scientist or researcher is not required to justify his theory. What do you mean by that? I think one is expected to justify what his theory makes sense, isn’t it?”

My response…

I am not sure if what I write below will clear the confusion and struggle of this reader. Only s/he can confirm by telling us one way or the other.

However, since this reader asked the question, it is reasonable to assume many others may have the same confusion.

Here is my short attempt to eliminate this confusion and struggle.

Let’s begin…

The work of a scientist consists in the elaboration of theory (or theories) and in putting them to test.  The initial phase in which a theory is conceived, does not require a logical analysis.    This is very critical to recognize, understand, internalize and comprehend.

The process of devising a new idea (theory, hypothesis, conjecture, guess) is very distinct from the methods and results of its tests.

Here is Karl Popper…

“The question how it happens that a new idea occurs to a man –whether it is a musical theme, a dramatic conflict, or a scientific theory — may be of great interest to empirical psychology; but it is irrelevant to the logical analysis of scientific knowledge.  The latter (logical analysis of scientific knowledge) is concerned not with questions of fact, but only with questions of justification or validity.”

A theory should results in consequences (predictions or truth claims) which are to be tested against all available evidence and/or via ingenious experiments.  This method of critically testing a theory.. and selection of better theory depending on the results of the tests, goes something like this…

Popper again…

“From a new idea, put up tentatively, and not yet justified in any way — an anticipation, a hypothesis, a theoretical system, or what you will –conclusions are drawn by means of logical deduction.  These conclusions are then compared with one another and with other relevant statements, so as to find what logical relations (such as equivalence, derivability, compatibility, or incompatibility) exist between them.”

Curious readers may read my entire series of blog articles — here – on  (1) Analysis and criticism of claim of Prof. Achar for 3067 BCE (original claim by Prof. Raghavan) as the year of Mahabharata War – total of 10 parts or (2) My response to Shri Shrikant Talageri in response to his criticism of AV observation – total of 8 parts.

back to the subject….

Testing a theory against experience takes place through the deduction of predictions.

Again, Popper with his razor sharp clarity…

“If the singular conclusions turn out to be acceptable, or verified, then the theory has, for the time being , passed the test; we have found no reason to discard it.  On the other hand, if the conclusions have been falsified (for a classic case of this and even more awesome disaster…read my 10 part series on Prof. Achar’s work…see above), then their falsification also falsifies the theory from which they were logically deduced.”

This is an important point.

A positive decision can only temporarily support the theory, for subsequent negative decisions may always overthrow it.  So long as a theory withstands detailed and severe tests and is not superseded by another theory in the course of scientific progress, we may say that it has “proved its mettle” or that it is “corroborated” by past experience.

(For a case of a theory that has no ‘claimed’ deductions/predictions and thus not really a theory, read my 8 part series on ‘Response to Shri Shirikant Talageri’.  In this series, I also show how his theory can be made testable by deducing predictions  and  then also showing means/methods  to  test those  predictions).

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