Scientific Interpretation 1

The nature of scientific experiment, as part of scientific method, has been and continues to aim at making testing as ‘pure’ as is possible.  This is to say that when an experiment is to be carried out, then as many extraneous items of circumstance and presence surrounding the setting of it up are attempted to be eliminated.

Any condition or item extraneous to the composition and nature of the theory that is being tested is attempted to be taken away from it making interference with the course of the experiment.

When things are not able easily to be taken away, and they are extraneous and so not useful or pertinent to the testing of the theory in question, they are attempted to be neutralised or isolated in some way so that their effects of being present do not influence or alter inconveniently the results (expected) of a test.

When things are not able to be taken away and also are not able easily to be neutralised or else isolated, then their influences or interferences with the procedure of an experiment and so with its (expected) results are attempted to be allowed for in the anticipated results of a test.  This is done so that a result of a test is able to be re-evaluated by allowing for the disorder or the unbalancing of an initial result by the interference of extraneous items or conditions unable to be removed beforehand from the proceedings of a test.

And so the ‘ideal’ experiment is one which would take place making use only of the essential ingredients needed to run a bona fide authentic test – the sufficient and necessary items only, with all other items and conditions expelled from having an influence on the outcome.

The nearest scientists come to this ‘pure’ or ‘ideal’ situation for doing experiments is when they conduct what are known as ‘thought experiments’.  Thought experiments are done when scientists think-through a set of circumstances and the interactions of those circumstances, so as to try to find a logical or other valid outcome, but crucially without their using physical apparatus or materials.  Thought experimentation is done wholly in the head.

The general nature of doing experimentation in these ways then necessitates that tested and established theories of science are expected to align themselves most conformably with the outcomes of new experiments. They are to align as being the science and its precepts whose reliability supports the new tests’ probability and probity for success, as well as providing their likelihood in being selected for trial in the first place. But all new tests are attempted, as far as this is possible, within a pure and ‘sanitised vacuum’ so to speak.

There might be such things as complex theories to be tested, or experiments which involve more than one theory to be tried, or else one or more established theories might be included as a given part of the set up model which is to support the conditions for experiment on proposed theories to be tested.

But the basic proposal holds good always; that all else which is unnecessary and extraneous to a proposed test is to be removed, neutralised or taken account of so as to get a result from the test that is as far as possible a ‘pure’ result, unadulterated as if existing in an ‘sanitised vacuum’.

The first thing to make a note of about this methodology is that even in the most ‘pure’ environments of experimentation, in the ‘thought experiments’, there is much scope for interferences and for extraneous items to intervene in a ‘proper’ procedure.

A historical case of this happening was the postulation of a gas called phlogiston. This gas was assumed to be of negative mass, and being thought such was thought accountable for the loss of mass witnessed in burnt ashes when compared with the mass of the items which were burnt, before their burning. There was involved here a thought experiment which took the results of a physical experiment and misconstrued them by creating the concept of phlogiston. The findings were flawed, and were flawed for two reasons.

Firstly there was most likely insufficient circumstantial understanding of science available to and surrounding the creator of the concept of phlogiston. Such a lack in great part allowed opportunity for the creator of the concept to postulate a gas which had properties unlike any other comparable material then known or understood.

Secondly the reasoning of the creator of the concept of phlogiston seems to have opted for ‘the glass half empty’ choice over and above the ‘glass half full’ choice.

Like in solving x in a quadratic equation there might be a negative answer and a positive one; only the positive one being of actual use in a practical application, to say an engineering project.  The concept of phlogiston seems to have arisen as if an engineer was working to apply negative loads or stresses to an idea for a building he was planning.

The conceptualiser of phlogiston had not supposed that materials had left the ash, and they were at one time part of its mass, but at a time beforehand, when being part of the material before it burnt to ash.  Instead he had opted for the nearest best alternative; that a gas of negative mass had been added to the materials during combustion, thus making their ash measure less in mass.

The lack of basement scientific understanding was the open gate through which the conceptualiser of phlogiston was able to walk through into a fallacious belief.

The simple truth is that an experimenter hypothetically has to be able to have foreknowledge of the presence and the nature of all extraneous items and conditions which could be present themselves and so might have potential to interfere with an experiment he is proposing, so as for him to hope to obtain a ‘pure’ state for its performance.  And the case with phlogiston implies to us that even were this first obstacle overcome and a ‘pure’ state was made possible in which to test a theory, there might still remain pitfalls in the mind and in the reasoning of men and women which might intervene to cause an interpretation to be made wrongly from any perceived empirical result.

The misinterpretation of observed phenomena is an accidental and incidental occurrence however, and as such is harder to guard against than mistakes occuring becaus eof insuffiencet safeguards hiving been made by using one’s sound understanding of all one feels assured of.  So that before the case one has eliminated as far as is presently possible interferences from affecting any test. This latter demand requires only diligence and application; the former demand, for correct interpretation of observed results, might truly be wholly unluckily mistaken in certain unfortunate cases.

Why not Science?

I want to keep this one simple. I want to show as plainly as I am able to do, and to show to ordinary people, who have ordinary lives and aspirations, that the Truth – whatever it might be – is more than science; and more than science can deal with.

First ask yourself whether what you see is real. Do you believe your eyes?  Well electricity is real but isn’t visible; you can’t hear it, smell it, taste it; you can feel it – sort of – so you know it’s there when you get a shock!

You don’t actually see sunlight. It allows you to see. It sheds light on objects so you can see them.  In space sunlight is travelling from the sun to the earth all the time, but as it travels through space it doesn’t light up anything. There’s not much to light up except other planets and a few satellites we sent up.

So when it travels in space it travels in darkness.  But what is travelling? What is it?  What on earth is it – a wave, a set of particles, energy? These are the standard answers.  They give no clue to what it is, only how it travels – as a wave – or in what form it travels – as a set of particles – or as how we people use it – as a form of energy.  But what is it? Is it right to ask the question? Is there an answer? Should we expect an answer? And might any true answer be beyond science to discover?  And I mean beyond – you have to go further than science to get an answer.

What about our thoughts? Are they ‘just chemicals’?  What might this mean ‘just chemicals’?  Are we chemical machines – just a bunch of chemical reactions?  When I flick on a light switch the lights come on – is this how our thoughts work?  A chemical just arrives somewhere at a cell in your brain and hey presto! – you think a thought?   Seems to me like what you think drives the chemicals to your brain cells rather than the chemicals driving you and causing what thoughts you think.

And we just decide to do something and do it. We say to ourselves – I WILL do that – and we do it.  What motors this I WILL?  What chemical goes to your brain cells and suggests that you WILL do it.  Isn’t it instead that you decide to do something and then the chemicals kick in?  The chemicals follow what you decide, rather than make you decide to do it

And what is this weight thing? This kilo of sugar which is bagged and which every week we get the same – a kilo bag of sugar from the shop? Why is it always the same sized bag? And why does it always weigh exactly a kilo. And why do we always receive the same number of spoonfuls per bag and per kilo.   Why should it not change from week to week, so that one kilo fits a bigger bag one week and a smaller another week. Or that you get fifty spoonfuls out of one week’s bag and sixty out of your next week’s?

Seems to me there’s no reason why this shouldn’t happen – that sizes, weights and amounts of sugar bagged should not in the way of things vary from time to time.

But there is an order to our world. We know, by having learned, that a kilo will always be the same, and will always fill the same sized bag, with the same number of spoonfuls.  We learned this when we were so young we didn’t question it – we just accepted it – took it for granted – that is how it is.

But why is it just like this?

If we took our bag of sugar to the moon it would weigh less.  If we took it into space it would weigh nothing.  But it would still be something, and still be usable in our cups of tea.  What has it lost so as to weigh nothing now? Has it lost anything?  What’s going on?

You cleverer ones will talk about the forces of gravity and the quality of mass which material objects possess.  But these thought refinements just complicate the issues and so obscure the mysteries of our being, our life and existence.

Ask yourself the question – why is there anything at all and not nothing instead?  This question keeps being asked – what is going on?

No-one knew there were radio waves before the year 1850. As far as people before 1850 were concerned invisible waves which passed through you and were able to carry music and talk and moving pictures were just someone’s terrifying delusions for the madhouse, had they been able to be suggested at that time.

‘Tell me where is fancy bred – in the heart or in the head?’

‘The earth hath bubbles, as the water has, – and these are of them. Whither are they vanished?’

The solution to the overwhelming question: What is going on? – is to recognise it is a question and that it is going on.  Our not seeing the question is real and us not seeing that it is going on; is us living a fatigued unconsidered life, happy with what we have been told. This is life asleep.  This is life unlived. It is an existence not a life.

It is having been blinded by the trees and unable to see the woods.  There is nowhere further for you to adventure in your thoughts when you are not awoken, not alive, to the astonishing mystery of all things, in all things.

Joni Mitchell sang: ‘We are stardust’ – and literally we are indeed. Think about it. The earth’s crust is mostly crystalline – it’s a ball of crystal – literally.  This is the truth. Water – why is it tasteless? – colourless? – a liquid? – scientists can tell you the mechanics of why it is these things, but what makes it so?  What holds things all together, that they just are and remain just so?

‘Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,

Sounds, and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.

Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments

Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices

That, if I then had waked after long sleep,

Will make me sleep again. And then, in dreaming,

The clouds methought would open and show riches

Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked

I cried to dream again.’

 

The clouds would open and show riches ready to drop on me – I guess that is what it is to wake up to life and seeing things more truly as they are – and so see that they go far over and above what science as our be-all and end-all blinkers us with.  It is waking up to the sheer unlikeliness, the couldn’t-be-imagined-ness, the whole humbling shooting match of astonishment that – here we are – yes – here we are.