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Discussion > Is Maths the 'Be All and End All' of Science?

As I said, noise.

Mar 7, 2016 at 4:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Yin, this whole site is noise. It is just entertainment for retired Brits in France and few assorted sociopaths. There's nobody here qualified to opine about climate science. You seem to come here because you like the sound of your own voice (keyboard), not because you're doing anything worthwhile. You don't have "skin in the game" any more than Dung or I. You are not a scientist, and even if you were that wouldn't make you the arbiter of what science is or is not. Start your own blog and set the world straight from that if you value your own opinion so much - then you might vaguely qualify as having skin in the game.

Mar 7, 2016 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

So why come here then, Raff? I see you also frequent the climate sceptics blog where many BH regulars contribute.

You won't be missed. Entropic Man does a better job. And neither would aTTP bbe missed: He is often mocked here for slagging off the site and the people and 'what a waste of time' etc, but he keeps coming back.

Mar 7, 2016 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

You seem to come here because you like the sound of your own voice (keyboard),

I comment for the same reason I comment anywhere online, when I see misrepresentation and bullying, especially from those who have taken on the cachet of the establishment whilst having no qualifications or right to do so. You came on here, like so many of your predecessors, with an attitude of superiority. You were expecting morons. And whilst we have them (this thread, for instance) you have been mauled several times in here. You borrow the mantle of other scientists as a club to beat us with. You group yourself with ATTP and EM, as if you were one unified team. Perhaps you wish you were a scientist.

No I am not a scientist, but in the hierarchy of those who are, you're at the very very bottom.

So why do you come here, Raff? If not to look down on the poor deluded deniers and make yourself feel better that you've chosen the better 'team' to support? You put on the airs of someone who despises all of us, and what we believe, yet you are drawn here in some sort of voyeuristic manner I can't fathom.

If you look back through this exchange, and many others with Dung, you will see I am extraordinarily patient with him, through pages and pages of drivel, quietly and carefully explaining his multiple faux pas. Eventually we reach a point in the conversation where he has no more "ah buts", and it's usually then he starts squealing like a stuck pig. What happened to his "muscle learning" thread of thought? After making such a hilarious mistake, he has the chagrin to still come out with his dukes up, acting as if he's been fully vindicated. This is old news, old Dung behaviour.

So what now? This thread is a vanity thread, and as such is a complete waste of electrons. I already gave my opinion on the maths/science question on the other thread. You don't have to believe me, you're free to believe whatever you like, but the weigh of our opinions are not at all equal. You are also free not to believe that either.

Mar 7, 2016 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Give over. You comment here because it is fun, just like me. You can't be so deluded as to think you make a difference to anything, can you, setting things right, auditing the Internet?

No I am not a scientist, but in the hierarchy of those who are, you're at the very very bottom.

That seems to imply that I am more of a scientist ("those who are") than you, if only a lowly one. That is good to know. I don't actually despise anyone here. I often dislike what people say and how it is said, but it is just blog banter. I wouldn't address people directly as I do here and I doubt you or others would. ClimateBall is a game; you should understand that.

If you look back through this exchange...

I haven't read much of it and I won't now. It is basically about you trying to impose a narrow minded view of science and to exclude people you think have not earned the name "science" for their work by producing a theory or hypothesis against the more inclusive view in general (almost universal) use. You object to a mere taxonomist like Linnaeus being called a scientist and jealously guard the name "science" against similar usurpers. Go ahead, you won't change any dictionary or encyclopedia to your side so it is a futile argument.

Mar 7, 2016 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Dung, TheBigYinJames

We are refighting some very old scientific battles here. One of them is the old dichotomy between theorists and experimenters.

Exaggerating a little for comic effect, the theorists see themselves as a scientific aristocracy, with the experimenters as the lower classes who do the legwork. The experimenters see the theorists as wild-eyed weirdos who come up with daft ideas that have to be tested.

Theoretical pysicists, and for some reason electronics engineers ,tend to the first attitude. Most other sciences tend to the latter.

In practice, both are necessary. A theorist needs high quality data from experimenters and needs experimenters to validate hypotheses.

Where would Kepler and Newton have been without Tyco Brahe?

Where would Watt have been without Boyle?

Where would Einstein have been without Eddington?

Where would Crick have been without Franklin?

Where would Lilienfield have been without the Bell Labs team and then Bardeen, Brattain, and Shockley?

Where would TBYJ be without all these electronic theorists and experimenters' shoulders to stand on?

A few scientists have been both theorists and experimenters .Bragg and Hubble stand out.

On the downside are theorists like Percival Lowell. As an observer he was a disaster. Given one of the best telescopes of the day, he built a whole imaginary civilisation on Mars around canals only he could see. He was the classic example of a theorist seeing what he wanted to see, rather than what was there.

Mar 7, 2016 at 6:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

I'll +1 you for that comment, EM.

Mar 7, 2016 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

BYJ

So what now? This thread is a vanity thread, and as such is a complete waste of electrons. I already gave my opinion on the maths/science question on the other thread. You don't have to believe me, you're free to believe whatever you like, but the weigh of our opinions are not at all equal. You are also free not to believe that either."

Dear uncle BYJ You did not give your opinion on the maths/science question on the other thread, you made a statement and called it fact. Allow me to refresh your failing memory:
It's not that I think maths is the be-all-and-end-all of science, it happens to be a fact. There is no science without mathematics. Science is the mathematical modelling of the real world. I'd be interested in your ideas of science which does not involve mathematics.

Since making that arrogant statement you have simply refused to provide any proof or reference for it and have heaped abuse on me when I asked for it. Not exactly the 'Scientific Method' is it?
Would you care to give a reference now?

Mar 7, 2016 at 7:33 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Michael hart

Thank you, nice to be on the same wavelength.

Mar 7, 2016 at 8:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Dung, TheBigYinJames

If you two are about to start a flame war we should end here.

Mar 7, 2016 at 8:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

I would agree EM but I have not abused BYJ once and I have asked only one simple question, am I not entitled to a full but polite answer?

Mar 7, 2016 at 8:11 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung, I have posted my answer at great length. If you cannot understand it, that's your lookout.

Mar 7, 2016 at 8:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

BYJ

I am not asking for and neither have we been discussing complicated mathematical proofs or formulae which are apparently your area of expertise even though you only have undergraduate maths. If you use the English Language then there is nothing I do not understand and also I have a dictionary ^.^
You have never given any references for your statement "There is no science without mathematics." and also MartinA who is a maths graduate does not accept your statement.

Mar 7, 2016 at 8:46 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung

Hectoring TBYJ is not going to help. He is extremely restrictive in the boundary conditions he sets for science, but his basic point is valid.

A little surfing will show that scientists regard some maths as unavoidable, whatever the field of study.

Mar 7, 2016 at 9:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

EM

You are absolutely right in stating that BYJ is not a person likely to help if you disagree with him. If what you say is correct then he should have no problem answering my question ^.^
Your statement is also not really the same as "there is no science without maths" and you know it.

There is no need to stay in this discussion EM, I realise that you value Lord BYJ's blessing but you do not need to try and justify it to him hehe, just take it and run.

Mar 7, 2016 at 9:34 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung

I know it. TBYJ' s basic thesis that science and maths tend to be inextricable is sound, but he has painted himself into a corner by overstating his case and, like the rest of us, is reluctant to acknowledge it. At this point in a civilised debate it is customary to let the matter rest.

Mar 7, 2016 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Had BYJ been civilised in this debate I am sure I would have taken your advice ^.^

Mar 7, 2016 at 9:49 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung, as someone who created this as an "attack thread" to set on me, your attempt to take the high moral ground is laughable. I have explained my position. I do not need references to validate my own opinion, I have a brain and can follow logic where it takes me. I have explained it at great length on the other thread and on this vanity thread of yours. You do not like my opinion, that is fine by me. As someone who is invariably ignorant on every subject you post about, I take your disapproval as independent validation that I'm on the right track.

EM, my position is not as extreme as has been attributed to me. But when a thread is created specifically to continue an argument from another thread which had already been settled, but not to the liking of one party, then it gets my dander up. It's stupid flame baiting at best, and as such I have had no qualms about mildly trolling it. I have no particular problem with Raff, but he chose to stand in the line of fire :) (alongside serial idiot Dung, what was he thinking?)

Mar 8, 2016 at 8:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

BYJ

I was interested in your idea of a repository of climate sceptic science and I tried to add to your thread for that reason alone but I was worried because of your previous attitude to me. After 3/4 posts in which I mentioned some geological records (from the Smithsonian Museum as it happens) which pretty much proved that CO2 did not cause warming, you described a button that would enable me to start a new thread (hint, hint). I took the hint and certainly did not want another war with you. However before that you had made the statement "It's not that I think maths is the be-all-and-end-all of science, it happens to be a fact."
When I started the new thread I started it with your comment and not my paleo stuff because I thought it was a more important issue. I wanted to know what other people thought about it and I would not have been welcome to pursue it on your thread.
It seemed to be a popular discussion and I did not attack you.
However you fairly soon joined the thread and on only the second page you started a long post as follows:
Far from being interesting, this vanity thread of Dung's is descending into farce, and as usual it is centred around semantics and the difference in meanings of words. Words which are loose and interchangeable in everyday usage, have specific meanings in Science which are not up for discussion
I do not even know what a vanity thread is. Anyway there is no discussion left now so thanks.

Mar 8, 2016 at 12:32 PM | Registered CommenterDung

"On the downside are theorists like Percival Lowell. As an observer he was a disaster. Given one of the best telescopes of the day, he built a whole imaginary civilisation on Mars around canals only he could see. He was the classic example of a theorist seeing what he wanted to see, rather than what was there."

Hmmm, who does that remind us of?

BTW early in the thread the development of the wheel was discussed. This was engineering.

Science = explaining how or why something happens.

Engineering = Doing something useful.

IMHO :-)

Mar 9, 2016 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterNial

Nial

Much appreciated and accurate depiction of Engineering but null points for the depiction of science, I suspect BYJ will return and hunt you down ^.^

Mar 9, 2016 at 2:35 PM | Registered CommenterDung

If it is not described in a mathematical way as the interaction of forces, particles, genes etc, even if the maths is only statistical, then you are not doing science. Everyone refers to Feynman, but one thing is clear, his first impulse was always to attempt to describe something in terms of maths. Apart, perhaps, from playing bongos or frigideira in a samba band.

Mar 9, 2016 at 8:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes

Things change over time. In the 19thc, chemistry was allowed to be qualitative but as soon as a physicist (Moseley) demonstrated he could identify rare Earths by physical rather than chemical methods, in the early 1900s,the game was up. Similarly in biology, yes it is important to taxonomise and identify. Hell there are unidentified bacteria even now. But there is a strain of the science looking at the forces required for a mole cricket to send a sound signal of such intensity. Progress in the sciences is about increasing mathematical knowledge of what is going on. This means that there is a hierarchy of sciences from the purely descriptive and speculative to the ones where many things are computable. I suggest that BigYJ might agree that there are things still to work out. But palaeoecology is still off the chart.

Mar 9, 2016 at 8:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes

Science = explaining how or why something happens.
Nial

Or describing *what* happens. Or working out what *can* happen.

Everyone refers to Feynman, but one thing is clear, his first impulse was always to attempt to describe something in terms of maths....
Mar 9, 2016 at 8:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes

Is that right? My recollection (lectures on physics) is that his first impulse was to understand physically what was going on.

Mar 9, 2016 at 9:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Martin A,

I am going by one of his anecdotes. He was in a dry phase, not sure what he wanted to do. He ended up in a restaurant watching a plate-spinning act and he observed something interesting about the way the plates wobbled. So he began to write equations on his napkin. And a lot of his QED conjectures were only proved experimentally after the fact - eg the corpuscular nature of light. He lectured on that in New Zealand, viewable on YouTube. That is not to say that he did not sometimes rationalise observations. But I think he was always clear that you needed to do the maths to fully understand what was happening.

Mar 10, 2016 at 9:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes