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Physics/Scientific method


QUESTION: I know this thing has probably been discussed before but here~

arguments about that accepting empirical knowledge is also somewhat based on faith

the second one especially is the one that i care about the most.

- Our stance of philosophical materialism (i.e., the idea that the universe is composed only of matter and energy, with no supernatural forces at play) is an assumption based on faith.

-Our assumption that there is an external reality that we can perceive through our senses is based on faith.

- The idea that the Universe is comprehensible through empirical observation, and can often be described through mathematics, is based on faith.

I will further elaborate my confusion about the second one. I mean it could extend to mean that us believing first believing that there is an external reality is based on faith second that if there is an external reality then our senses/observations are true is also based on faith. I mean we all still don't know if my Red is the same as your red right >_

ANSWER: We have instruments for wavelength, but the color "red" is a linguistic distinction for a range of colors.

There's really no question here.  There are a lot of statements.  Did you have a question?  Like, a specific question?

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QUESTION: Yes the question is about the truth of the 3 statements and if they are true then how isn't the scientific method  based on faith even though it claims not to be.

I mean it's based on pure belief for example that what we are seeing with out eyes as measurements is true. Empirical evidence has to rely on the pure speculative idea that we can actually interpret measurements correctly using out senses?

ANSWER: I think you're making another linguistic error.  The word faith, in general, implies belief...but there are many kinds.  Faith in what we are told is often simplistic statements and belief in the source of the information.  Such a system does not make testable predictions which can be compared to measurement very well.

The scientific method collects evidence and tests assumptions against that evidence.  Those assumptions are often proven wrong.  This leads to a body of knowledge in experience and theoretical connections built over time and many, many thousands of pieces of evidence, supporting one another and prediction of results of experiments.  The system of science is so vast, that its collective understanding is larger than you or I.  If you want to go so far as to suppose that we're all in The Matrix, or that you are really a brain in a jar perceiving nothing but electrical signals being fed to's not something I can disprove for you.  I could be one of those sets of signals.  But that requires an unsupportable assumption on your side, one which has no evidence.  

The last one is ambition, and not actually part of the scientific method.  It will eventually reveal inabilities to describe the universe in such a fashion.  The first two seem obvious enough to me, I suggest you take them to a philosopher and not a physicist.

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QUESTION: Well that's the thing how do we test the existence of a materialistic universe when we rely on the materialism of the universe to test stuff.
I mean any experiment/observation has to rely on the fact that the person conducting them is able to perceive the result this is of same truth value as us being in a jar etc etc.

What I am trying to say is the evidence of the scientific methods are only noteworthy/supported under the assumption that universe isn't idealistic but choosing to assume a materialistic universe has only as much support as choosing an idealistic universe. All evidence that support a materialistic universe pre assume it's materialistic...

For example you can say we conducted experiments etc in various parts of the world with various people in various times and gotten same result -> so this claim is supported by the scientific method, but that's only under the assumption that there was something to experiment on and that actually your eyes/ears did sense whatever was senses.

Here is an analogy let's talk about newton vs eienstien now
can someone say newton laws were actually always valid for all objects regardless of their speed until einstien experiment showed they weren't then the past changed, and so did the present such that laws of relativity apply. I mean the point is here is you will say no evidence it didn't happen, but at same way there is no evidence that it wasn't only the collective mind of everyone in the earth that shape the PAST and the present.

i mean it might be said now we can also prove that relativity was valid for objects before einstien ofcourse, but as i said it could be that it's only because you were able to experiment it to be now that both past and present change.

How do you know that anything exists until you think about it. That's why I am saying the fact the universe is materialistic is as much of a non supported claim as matrix for all supporting claims are circular cause they are based on the materialism of the universe.

I don't know what you mean by an "idealistic" universe.  If  you want to assume that, the scientific method is just a set of steps that assume no materialistic universe, in and of themselves.  Theories of holographic universes and theories in which time does not really exist (but in which everything happens all at once and our perception is what creates the appearance of time) are still able to be explored with the scientific method.  If you choose to believe you don't exist, I'm not going to stop you from making that assumption.  I personally think you're wasting your time speculating on something you have no evidence to support aside from a notion in your head...a need to split hairs to a level where the issues you bring up serve no real purpose in wasting time comtemplating.

Einstein finding a new framework to extend Newton's laws did not change the past physics itself.  It just allowed up to describe anomalies in observations that Newton (who simply assumed an infinite speed of light) did not have available.  The physics has been the same.  The models we use to describe it do not change the physics itself.  That's a ridiculous assumption, because we know from historical evidence that relativistic effects were around.  Radioactivity and many other phenomena depend on it, and they happened long before Einstein proposed relativity.

I can observe, measure, and predict the world around me.  If you choose to believe that the universe does not have an actual material form, or spend your time speculating on it, that's up to you.  If you want to ask me a question about science, in which you're asking an expert on the physical science of a material universe, go ahead.  If you have some actual evidence that the universe is not material in nature, go ahead.  

If you're here to speculate yet again that you believe the idea of a physical universe is unsupportable, I ALREADY TOLD YOU to go ask a philosopher.  So stop wasting the time of a physicist.  Philosophy is not my area of expertise, and there's a reject button for that category of question when I'm asked it.


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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson


I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.


I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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