How We Gain Knowledge: Conjecture and Refutation

As discussed in my last post, if science can’t be justified by inductive reasoning, how do we justify it?

Popper’s own epistemology (i.e. theory of how we gain knowledge) is based around conjecture and refutation.
All knowledge is gained by starting with conjecture. Interestingly, inductive “reasoning” does seem to play a role in this. As documented in the Taleb’s book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable we humans seem to be wired for inductive “reasoning.” We see non-existent causes and effects everywhere. Taleb gives these questionable cause/effects a name: narrative fallacies. Taleb spends a lot of time discussing the problems with our built in inductive reasoning. But there is an upside. We easily generate conjectures – mostly bad ones. Continue reading

Doubting Darwinism – 150 Years of The Origin of the Species

[Cross posted from Sixteen Small Stones]

Romanes's 1892 copy of Ernst Haeckel's embryo drawings

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of “The Origin of the Species” by Charles Darwin. If you’ve followed my blog for a significant time you know that I have doubts about the compatibility of Darwinism and the belief in God as the Creator.

I remember as a high-school biology student, in addition to various other evolutionary facts, our teacher showed us the famous Heackel drawings of the developmental stages of embryos. He made us all memorize the phrase “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” And he insisted that it was a scientific “fact” that proved that Darwin’s theory was undeniably true. It was all very convincing and I believed him. As a faithful member of the LDS church I reasoned that “evolution” was simply the device which God employed to bring to pass the creation. This was in 1989 and little did I know that the “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” hypothesis had, even then, been long discredited.

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