Thursday, 9 April 2015

18 Rules About Scientific Theories and Other Claims By Scientists

Rule 1: Any scientific theory that resembles a Biblical myth, or any creation myth from any other culture or religion, can be rejected without further examination.

Rule 2: Anyone who claims that scientific theories have immediate consequences for social, moral or political policy has to remain silent until they have read Hume’s Treatise on Human Nature and understood why they are wrong.

Rule 3: Any explanation of current behaviour in terms of how human beings lived twenty thousand, or any other number of, years ago, can be replaced by a better explanation referring entirely to the current economic and material circumstances and personal goals of the people involved.

Rule 4: Any scientist who claims their theory shows that people do not have freedom of choice certainly doesn’t understand what freedom is, and probably doesn’t understand their own theory.

Rule 5: Any scientist who claims their theory shows that people are not conscious beings certainly doesn’t know what consciousness is, and probably doesn’t understand their own theory.

Rule 6: Any scientist who claims that their theory should be accepted because “everyone agrees” doesn’t understand what science is.

Rule 7: Anybody who refuses to specify the circumstances under which they would change their theories, beliefs or policies can leave the room now. This discussion is for practical grown-ups. (“Until a better one comes along” does not count.)

Rule 8: Any scientific explanation that blames the subject or patient can be rejected without further examination.

Rule 9: Any theory that only explains the past, and cannot predict the future, is a fact-based creation myth, not a scientific theory.

Rule 10: Any study paid for by an organisation should be accepted only if its conclusions are contrary to the interests of that organisation.

Rule 11: Any regularity, correlation or pattern discovered by number-crunching or statistical techniques should be treated as a curiosity until it is explained by some specific technology or institutional rules.

Rule 12: Any finding from a large-scale survey of people will always confuse cause and effect in such a way as to re-inforce the current social prejudices about those people.

Rule 13: Anyone who says “the plural of anecdote is not data” either doesn’t understand what the word “plural” means, or is trying to sell you their research services.

Rule 14: If the statistics say that 20% of the population do something, and you don’t know anyone who does, it’s not 20% of the whole population, it’s 100% of a smaller chunk of the population that nobody wants to identify out loud.

Rule 15: The source academic paper never says what the press release says it said. Unless it’s a sponsored study, when the academic paper says what the press release needed to say.

Rule 16: Anyone who doesn’t understand the various Quantum theories probably doesn’t understand what a Lie Algebra is. Fix that, and Quantum theories will suddenly become simple.

Rule 17: Anyone who says “logic dictates” doesn’t know that logic doesn’t dictate anything. It doesn’t even tell you how to draw conclusions from what you’ve just dictated. It just tells you how not to screw up drawing those conclusions.

Rule 18: Any popularisation of a scientific theory will distort and simplify the most important features of the theory in direct proportion to the intended sales of the book.

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