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"True or False?" Topic

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672 hits since 15 Jan 2015
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Terrement Inactive Member15 Jan 2015 7:21 a.m. PST

A position on a subject is proven true and beyond question forever based on a single test resulting in a single data point.

Please explain briefly why or why not.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2015 8:01 a.m. PST

Of course it's true, particularly if the source is infallible and fits your beliefs.

CeruLucifus15 Jan 2015 9:33 a.m. PST

I should know better than to respond to this as a straight question, but . . .

Of course not.

The test must be verified to rule out variability in the testing procedure or measurements. The test should be repeated until there is a statistically significant array of data points. Next the hypothesis, test, and data should go through peer review. This means other scientists should put their sets of eyes on the test and procedures, and have the opportunity to recreate the tests using their labs, measuring equipment, and personnel.

There are scenarios where a single data point might settle an argument, but that requires all participants to agree beforehand to accept without reservation the test, procedure, and resultant data.

jefritrout15 Jan 2015 10:06 a.m. PST

Ohio State is the NCAA division 1 football national champion. The singular test against Oregon demonstrated that OSU was better at that particular time, but it was obviously extrapolated to be a fact with no more tests deemed necessary.

Streitax Inactive Member15 Jan 2015 10:40 a.m. PST

If you are an engineer, of course it is true. Most other scientists want verification. Trust but verify.

Tom Bryant15 Jan 2015 11:06 a.m. PST

Whoa Streitax! If you're an engineering manager that might be the case. For the REAL Engineers it might take a bit farther. I can't think of too many real practitioners of the art that play that game. Of course I'm thinking of guys who know how to bend tin and actually do the job, not the pointy headed theoreticians who just sit behind the desk all day and crunch numbers on the computer and have no real idea as to how to build what they design or even if, or why it will (or won't) work.

Personal logo Jlundberg Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2015 3:26 p.m. PST

theories need to be tested and subjected to constant scrutiny

jdpintex15 Jan 2015 5:45 p.m. PST

Obviously false.

Beer is good. Cold beer is better. Cheap beer is bad. Drinking beer is better than having beer in fridge. etc. etc.

Obviously constant texting is required.

Toronto48 Inactive Member15 Jan 2015 8:30 p.m. PST

Define "beyond question forever " What do you mean by "question" by whom, when, what why … ?

Is the questioning in the form of a denial, an addition , a clarification or are you implying that everything is constant without considering the possibility of change due to all factor that are known now and may become known in the future Today we know what we know and we know what we don't know yet are you certain that the problem of not knowing now what we do not know we do not know is not a factor. What is your justification for making that assertion

This has just addressed the question part of your assertion I have not even looked at the term "forever" has that as more variables then questions Simply put you would have to prove that your assertion would remain true for an unspecified period of time up to and including eternity and possibly past without considering that at any time in that forever a basic tenet of physics could change say the end of time itself but not existence .Where is your proof that forever will remain a constant like your assertion.

So until you are able to show that all of these variables have been considered and the results you anticipate, your assertion is neither true nor false but incomplete.

Martin Rapier16 Jan 2015 6:21 a.m. PST

"Please explain briefly why or why not."

1. Is it possible to construct a working atomic weapon?

Yes, this is provable with a single instance.

2. Will the detonation of such a weapon cause a chain reaction which destroys the entire planet?

This may be provable with a single instance, although you may not like the answer, however to prove that it won't beyond reasonable doubt requires a large number of tests.

So the answer to the OP is 'it depends'. I used to be an economist.

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP16 Jan 2015 9:29 a.m. PST

Obviously it's possible.

A statement "there is at least one elk" can be proven by observing a single elk. One test, one datapoint, the position is proven beyond question forever. This will work with penguins or moose, too. Of course, the elk observation will have to be peer reviewed.

But obviously the sufficiency of a single data point will only serve for certain, fairly limited "positions". They statements to be proven must be of the "at least one" or "possible" variety.

Interestingly, the converse is true: if your thesis is of the form "all" or "always" then you need an infinite number of data points to prove it true beyond question, unless you can definitely prove the opposite impossible, which may present the same problem.

Streitax Inactive Member16 Jan 2015 11:18 a.m. PST

@Tom Bryant, we had an engineer working in our lab to model blood flow in a vein (it fluctuates because the vein wall is so thin it is like a ballon, it fills up until the pressure is great enough to drive the blood through the valve – veins have one way valves – and then collapses, the 'waterfall effect'.), he did one experiment and thought he was done. We had to explain biological variation to him, he was not pleased. :o) I shouldn't just pick on engineers like that, analytical chemists believe repeating something only means you're not good enough to do it right the first time (facetious comment from a chemist).

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member09 Feb 2015 11:37 a.m. PST

On the internet, Yes, because we don't argue on the internet to determine truth but to reaffirm that we are correct and true while the opposition is vile and debased :-)

(also, if there's pictures, it's always true :) )

jpattern209 Feb 2015 4:52 p.m. PST

Whatever this guy was working on, I'd say he proved his hypothesis, just based on the cool colors:


Great War Ace Inactive Member14 Feb 2015 8:45 a.m. PST

True. False. Both. Neither. It depends, Or not, depending.

The paradigm determines whether yes or no or both at times.

This is the "world of humans". We can only show what repeats itself reliably enough to let us go forward in confidence. Otherwise, we will never go beyond our own solar system….

Last Hussar21 Feb 2015 4:40 p.m. PST

A hypothesis is continually tested, and while results match the hypothesis, it is considered true. If verified results don't match the hypothesis is altered or replaces.

Observed facts
A set of results from an unseen die are
1 4 2 2 4 2 1 2 4 3 3 2 1 2 3 4 3 2 1 (and so on for 1000 results)

Hypothesis. The die is a d4
Alternate. The die has at least 4 sides.

The first hypothesis is more useful, as it limits results so predictions are more useful.

If the only known result was 3, then no one would make a theory based on that.

The amount of tests Evolution, Global Warming, and gravity have been subjected to means that we are confident that they are correct, although occassionally they need tweaking – Earth Gravity used to be a constant, but we know know that it varies across the globe. The 'correct' accelleration due to gravity of 9.31m/s^2 is actually the gravity at a specific site (in Poland, I believe). However because we haven't yet investigated every possible occurrence, it remains only a theory. Those who believe theories such as gravity can be discounted because 'it's only a theory' are invited to repeat this mantra whilst they jump off a very tall cliff.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP27 Feb 2015 3:20 p.m. PST

A position on a subject is proven true and beyond question forever …………

No. In Science nothing is ever proven true. As my Professors would say, "Proofs only exist in mathematics". A "truth" is a statement of conviction, and thereby outside the realm of Science.

Nothing is "beyond question forever", again not the way Science works.

………..based on a single test resulting in a single data point.

A Theory is a model which best describes the given observations. It is also falsifiable and should make predictions. A single test resulting in a single data point will hardly float a scientific Theory.

However because we haven't yet investigated every possible occurrence, it remains only a theory.

A scientific Theory is never "only a theory" The former is a distinct scientific term with a specific definition and the latter is a colloquialism for "hypothesis" or "unsubstantiated idea".

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