Richard Feynman channels Popper

Feynman’s account of the procedure for looking for a scientific law:

Guess, compute the consequences of the guess, check if they agree with the evidence and if the evidence persistently refuses to agree, the guess (hypothesis) is wrong.

Science is about testing guesses.

On the basis of evidence we may be sure that we are wrong but we can never be sure that we are right.

Right on!

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1 Response to Richard Feynman channels Popper

  1. Bruce Caithness says:

    Great video, Rafe. It is strange how much antagonism there is to the conjectural view of exploration, despite such clear exposition by Feynman and others.

    “I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth” stated on page 225 of volume two “The Open Society and Its Enemies” (1952) was for the rest of Karl Popper’s life the core articulation of his world view.

    In Popper’s view, phrasing critical rationalism in this way “I may be wrong and you may be right” prevents dogmatism as he hasn’t said “I may be right and you may be wrong”. It is up to the individual whether or not to try to adopt this attitude.

    Acceptance of any theory in Popper’s view (and Feynman’s) ought to be consciously tentative only, although one may believe that a theory is preferable to certain alternative theories.

    With respect to criticism, valid inferences are not tools of exploration of the world but rather are tools for exploring our existing conjectures. With such, we attempt to clarify and criticize rather than ground our conjectures.

    At least falsifiability and criticism give us a fighting chance of reducing the mistakes of such guesses.

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