Ancient texts in unreadable languages have been cracked by picking up a handful of key words so that a pattern can be found. Much the same can happen in solving a murder mystery.
Remember the puzzle books with complex line drawings, like a tree that contains 15 children or a bird. The children or the bird are invisible in a mass of lines in the picture, until you adjust your eyes to find them, or someone points them out.
Maybe the four, five or six Popperian “turns” can provide the key to the pattern in critical rationalism, the pattern that ensures that most professional philosophers can’t find anything that they find agreeable or that they can even “see”.
That idea occurred while re-reading Stephen Thornton’s piece on Popper in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Incidentally it was revised again in February 2013 but the Critical Appraisal is still unsatisfactory, it looks like a collection of non-sequiturs, based on (1) the failure to see the distinction between the logic of falsifiability and the practical problems of falsification and (2) how Popper addressed the problem by way of “rules of the game” or the “social turn” described by Ian Jarvie. http://www.the-rathouse.com/rev_jarvie.html
See below for an update on Thornton.
Of course people who have a personal or professional commitment to the pre-Popperian approach, against the turns, may see them without finding them acceptable, but for others it may help to provide the “keys” that unlock the code of critical rationalism.
The turns are briefly described in an appendix to the Guides in the Popular Popper series and in due course I will write a few thousand words on each and produce an ebook in the order of 25 to 30,000 words devoted to them.
In fairness to Thornton, in the body of the text the distinction between logic and practice is clearly defined.
Popper has always drawn a clear distinction between the logic of falsifiability and its applied methodology. The logic of his theory is utterly simple: if a single ferrous metal is unaffected by a magnetic field it cannot be the case that all ferrous metals are affected by magnetic fields. Logically speaking, a scientific law is conclusively falsifiable although it is not conclusively verifiable. Methodologically, however, the situation is much more complex: no observation is free from the possibility of error—consequently we may question whether our experimental result was what it appeared to be.
Thus, while advocating falsifiability as the criterion of demarcation for science, Popper explicitly allows for the fact that in practice a single conflicting or counter-instance is never sufficient methodologically to falsify a theory, and that scientific theories are often retained even though much of the available evidence conflicts with them, or is anomalous with respect to them.
Now I recall that one of the problems with the previous version was a disconnect between the body of the text which was quite sound for the most part and the criticisms at the end which were not. My concern was (and remains) that practically everyone will either read the negative conclusion alone, and those who do make the effort to read the whole lot will quite likely take away the negative conclusion. At the very least they will be confused.
A very odd situation.