Monday, May 14, 2012

Conflict of words.

I went to a lecture this evening, by Lawerence Krauss, It was, very very good. As in changing the way one looks at the physical world sort of good, which is always fun.

One of the points that he  made, repeatedly and quite emphatically, which is liable to be ignored by those that want to dismiss him, was that he was not describing a proven origin of the universe, but a plausible one. I'll possibly write more about it when I've digested it. I found it interesting though, because I have seen people having a go at his book because it didn't "prove" his theories.If what I heard him say this evening is in anyway similar to his book or previous lectures, then he has been done a disservice.
A lot of the language he used was very ... affirmative, when he was talking about the parts of physician that we known about, Einstein, Hubble, cosmic background radiation, that sort of thing. And I wonder where and how people miss that transition, from this is what we know to this is what we think. There are occasions where science, with it's own particular vocabulary runs into conflict with everyday language. The use of the word believe is one of those occasions, where usually it is meant to signify something that is thought true with  no evidence to back it up, whereas in science it usually means there's a decent chunk of evidence pointing us in this particular direction. Theory is another problematic word - a guess vs a rigorous explanation of all the available data backed up by bucket loads of evidence.

This isn't one of those occasions though. I don't see how you can misrepresent someone when they are quite explicit in making the distinction between what is known and what is hypothesized. It's a straw man argument, one of many that I'm seeing more and more raised in writings about scientists.

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