Science vs. Superstition: Claims for the timing of Mahabharata War – Part 2

Science advances whereas superstition goes around in circles.”

– Dr. Koenraad Elst

I typed following two questions in ‘google search’ and selected first few definitions that showed up.

(1) What is Science?

(2) What is Superstition?

What is Science? (emphasis mine)

(1) the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. (Ref. https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=what+is+sCience)

(2) Science is the concerted human effort to understand, or to understand better, the history of the natural world and how the natural world works, with observable physical evidence as the basis of that understanding1. It is done through observation of natural phenomena, and/or through experimentation that tries to simulate natural processes under controlled conditions. (There are, of course, more definitions of science.) (Ref. http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/1122science2.html)

(3) the systematic observation of natural events and conditions in order to discover facts about them and to formulate laws and principles based on these facts. 2. the organized body of knowledge that is derived from such observations and that can be verified or tested by further investigation. 3. any specific branch of this general body of knowledge, such as biology, physics, geology, or astronomy.

Academic Press Dictionary of Science & Technology

(4) Science consists simply of the formulation and testing of hypotheses based on observational evidence; experiments are important where applicable, but their function is merely to simplify observation by imposing controlled conditions.

Robert H. Dott, Jr., and Henry L. Batten, Evolution of the Earth (2nd edition)

(5) There is no philosophical high-road in science, with epistemological signposts. No, we are in a jungle and find our way by trial and error, building our roads behind us as we proceed. We do not find sign-posts at cross-roads, but our own scouts erect them, to help the rest.

                           Max Born (1882-1970), Nobel Prize-winning physicist,
quoted in Gerald Holton’s Thematic Origins of Scientific Thought

(6) The stumbling way in which even the ablest of the scientists in every generation have had to fight through thickets of erroneous observations, misleading generalizations, inadequate formulations, and unconscious prejudice is rarely appreciated by those who obtain their scientific knowledge from textbooks.

James Bryant Conant (1893-1978), Science and Common Sense

What is superstition? (emphasis mine)

(1) excessively credulous belief in and reverence for supernatural beings.

(2) a widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice based on such a belief.

(3) Superstition is the belief in supernatural causality—that one event causes another without any natural process linking the two events—such as astrology, religion, omens, witchcraft, and prophecies, that contradicts natural science (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superstition)

(4) a :  a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation

  b :  an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God resulting from superstition
:  a notion maintained despite evidence to the contrary  (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/superstition)
(5) a ​belief that is not ​based on ​reason or ​scientificthinking and that ​explains the ​causes for ​events in ​ways that are ​connected to ​magic:  (http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/superstition).
(6) any belief that cannot be founded on empirical observation can be considered superstition  (yahoo answers)
In summary
Science (keywords)
-through observation and experiment
-to understand better
-with observable physical evidence as the basis of that understanding1
-experimentation that tries to simulate natural processes under controlled conditions
-derived from such observations and that can be verified or tested by further investigation
formulation and testing of hypotheses
-observational evidence
-by trial and error
-We do not find sign-posts at cross-roads, but our own scouts erect them, to help the rest (i.e. rationality without foundations)
Superstition (keywords)
-excessively credulous belief
-a widely held but unjustified belief
-an irrational abject attitude
-a notion maintained despite evidence to the contrary
-any belief that cannot be founded on empirical observation can be considered superstition
We will visit and re-visit these keywords (of Science and also of superstition) and their definitions as we evaluate claims and counterclaims (for and against experimental outcome of AV observation).
To be continued…
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