Sunday, October 25, 2015

We must bury the Scientific Method

All politics is local
All science is political

I finally concede that the Scientific Method (sm) is dead and we should bury it.  The last great sm-er was J. Tuzo Wilson, and he regularly gloried in all times he was wrong.  For him, it was a journey.

We now live in a world where you can never admit you were wrong.  Except for the start-ups in Palo Alto, where business failure is a badge of honour.  For the rest of the world, all money comes from political forces, where it is death to admit failure.

SM requires that you put forth a hypothesis that can succeed or fail against future (unknown) testing.  If you have many successes, the hypothesis is promoted to a theory.  A theory can still be proven wrong.

The modern way is to put up a hypothesis that can never fail (Consensus Science).  Instead, you 'synthesize' a theory from available data.  You may modify it as new information comes, but it is never wrong.

I am a hardcore sm-er but who cares about me?  I found it useful when you were actually doing active investigations.  For example, in my Rouge River Fault studies, I put forward the hypothesis that the marker horizon was as flat as a billiard table, slightly  tilted for the regional dip.  The investigation was designed to conclusively prove or deny it.  

Consensus Science is fluid and dynamic.  No great temperature rise?  Then bring in the oceans, even though you didn't before.  Can you imagine any PR department for a university admitting to a failed hypothesis?  Can you see the USGS doing such a thing?

No, the Scientific Method is dead, long live Consensus Science.

Thank god I'll be dead soon.  :)

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