Talk:Science/Archive 5

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Nice picture

Paine, I really like that new picture. I believe it captures the essence of the entire article. mezzaninelounge (talk) 20:26, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

Thank you very much, Danielkueh! – Paine Ellsworth ( CLIMAX )  20:46, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

thumb|300px|Science is an earnest attempt to pull away Nature's veil and discover that she actually has three tits.

;) SBHarris 20:37, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

Actually, that looks like a three-orbed belt to me. Good one, though. – Paine Ellsworth ( CLIMAX )  20:46, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
Three tits! Hah! mezzaninelounge (talk) 21:26, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

A belt?? Are you sure... that really looks like three boobs. Not that it's tasteless or anything. Actually, revealing nature, in all its surprising nudity - that's "science" for sure. I'll leave it to you guys to figure this out though...-Tesseract2(talk) 05:24, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

Your question made me look into it further. There is a source link on the image page that leads to one likely explanation, and that little ditty is in agreement with editor Sbharris!:
Ah, science as "poetry"! Such a Noble prize!>) – Paine Ellsworth ( CLIMAX )  09:58, 16 May 2011 (UTC)
Three tits. Awesome.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 11:10, 16 May 2011 (UTC)

Minor minor thing.

Under 'Basic Classifications' - "The formal sciences, which also include statistics and logic, is vital to the empirical sciences."

This is saying "The formal sciences is vital to the empirical sciences," which is subject-verb disagreement ('is' should be 'are'). The semi-protected nature of the article prevents me from just fixing it myself. Nickjbenson (talk) 19:02, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

Done mezzaninelounge (talk) 19:24, 25 May 2011 (UTC)


The word enterprise in the lead doesn't seam proper. Reading Enterprise, there is no definition that matches the meaning intended in the article. Perhaps one of exercise, project, scheme, philosophy, ideal or establishment would work better. Otherwise, the word should at least be linked to a page defining its meaning. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thomasda (talkcontribs) 19:40, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

Indeed, there's no Wikipedia article linked at the Enterprise disambig page Enterprise thst covers the exact general meaning intended in the use of the word "enterprise" in the Science wiki lead. But that in fact is no objection to the use of the word in the wiki. There is no such rule requiring definitive links for common words at Wikipedia, and if there were such a rule, Wikipedia would have to be abandoned. One could link the word "enterprise" to its definition in Wiktionary wikt:enterprise but the meaning is already obvious enough and doesn't need special explanation any more than most of the words need such. The Tetrast (talk) 22:29, 25 May 2011 (UTC). edited The Tetrast (talk) 22:32, 25 May 2011 (UTC).

The use of the word enterprise seems like it originated from vandals linking every page so that it goes to philosophy as stated in Wikipedia: Get to Philosophy. A may 25 revision of this page lists pages which don't work with science as one of them. In the revision it states the first link on the science page was to system. It appears the word system (and the link to it's page) was removed in favor of enterprise so that the science page linked back to philosophy. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:18, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

No, none of those things "appear" at all. The use of the word "enterprise" in the lede did not originate from vandals linking pages into chains leading to "Philosophy" and it does not even seem so, since the word "enterprise" in the lede has had no link embedded in it at all. The use of the word "enterprise" in the lede originated from Science talk page discussions now stored in Talk:Science/Archive_4 and Talk:Science/Archive_3. The Tetrast (talk) 15:18, 26 May 2011 (UTC).

Even still, as somebody in a scientific field, I find the current use of the word enterprise misleading. One usually considers an enterprise to be a business, which science is definitely not. The only other definition which could be relocatable here is a significant project, which still doesn't qualify science that well, as science isn't really a singular project. I think that systematic enterprise (used in the quote that the word enterprise was chosen from) would be better suited, or just replacing the word enterprise with system. I originally thought that it was vandalized because system was originally the first link on the page (had to be before knowledge) in a fairly recent version, and the use of enterprise sounded very awkward. Because following knowledge leads to philosophy, I assumed that somebody switched system to enterprise (which if it were linked, doesn't have a suitable definition for how it is used here), to make knowledge the first link and thus able to "get to philosophy". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:48, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

I do not "usually consider an enterprise to be a business," although it can be taken in that sense. Here it refers to an undertaking, or purposeful endeavor. My own sense of its connotation includes an emphasis on "purposeful," which I believe is appropriate here. In any case, I just changed it to "systematic enterprise." Thanks for the suggestion! __ Just plain Bill (talk) 21:29, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
The word "enterprise" is commonly taken in a broader sense than "business." There are enterprises political, economic, cultural, and societal; enterprises, too, of conflict, practical cooperation, valuational community, and supports, checks, & balances disciplinal & otherwise.
To many of us "enterprise" means first of all an undertaking, an activity deliberately begun, particularly a bold one, such as a voyage of discovery, and particularly as undertaken by an ongoing group of people. Now we can consider science
1. as impetus/undertaking etc., or
2. as process, or
3. as culmination, or
4. as structure/system.
Since the idea of (howsoever provisional) settlement/structure/system is already covered by the mentions of knowledge, its organization, etc., it was felt, in the course of the discussion (see at archive links above), that "enterprise" would be less redundant and cover a "dynamic" angle, at any rate the angle most opposed to that of systematic structure.
As to "systematic enterprise," I don't know how others feel about adding "systematic" at that point, but I definitely want to keep "enterprise." The Tetrast (talk) 21:45, 26 May 2011 (UTC).
The current definition was inspired in part by E. O. Wilson's definition of science as a "a systematic enterprise of gathering knowledge about the world and organizing and condensing that knowledge into testable laws and theories." In that regard, systematic is fine I suppose. mezzaninelounge (talk) 22:00, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

Science defined as a system of testable hypotheses about "the world" is too narrow a conception of scientific endeavor. Science can be directed at a number of different things outside our own world--outside our own universe, even. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:29, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

Philosophy of Science

The philosophy of science section in this article is a little long and much of the content is just overkill. They are appropriate in an article on Philosophy of Science, but for an article on science itself, they are certainly unnecessary (especially the quote by Gould, who is not a even a philosopher of science, let alone a widely accepted one). If anything, much of the details are unintelligible to the general naive reader. Thus, I would look to propose the following deletions while preserving the main gist of this section. Newly inserted words are bolded.

The philosophy of science seeks to understand the nature and justification of scientific knowledge. Since It is has proven difficult to provide a definitive account of scientific method that can decisively serve to distinguish science from non-science,. Thus there are legitimate arguments about the boundaries between science and non-science.exactly where the borders are, which This is known as the problem of demarcation. There is however, is nonetheless a set of core precepts that have broad consensus among published philosophers of science and within the scientific community at large on what constitutes scientific knowledge. For example, it is generally agreed that scientific hypotheses and theories must be capable of being independently tested and verified by other scientists in order to become accepted by the scientific community.[citation needed]
There are different schools of thought in the philosophy of sciencescientific method. The most popular position is empiricism, which claims that knowledge is created by a process involving observation and that hence scientific theories are the result of generalizations from such observations.[citation needed] Empiricism generally encompasses inductivism, a position that tries to explain the way general theories can be justified by the finite number of observations humans can make and the hence finite amount of empirical evidence available to confirm scientific theories. This is necessary because the number of predictions those theories make is infinite, which means that they cannot be known from the finite amount of evidence using deductive logic only. It has been a long running matter of philosophical debate whether such positions require metaphysical assumptions about the structure of the world that themselves cannot be justified in a scientific way, and whether that poses a problem for science or not. Biologist Stephen J. Gould, for example, maintained that 1) uniformity of law and 2) uniformity of processes across time and space must first be assumed by anyone who wants to do science as a scientist. Gould summarized this view as follows:
The assumption of spatial and temporal invariance of natural laws is by no means unique to geology since it amounts to a warrant for inductive inference which, as Bacon showed nearly four hundred years ago, is the basic mode of reasoning in empirical science. Without assuming this spatial and temporal invariance, we have no basis for extrapolating from the known to the unknown and, therefore, no way of reaching general conclusions from a finite number of observations. (Since the assumption is itself vindicated by induction, it can in no way “prove” the validity of induction - an endeavor virtually abandoned after Hume demonstrated its futility two centuries ago).
— Gould, S. J. 1965. Is uniformitarianism necessary? American Journal of Science 263:223–228.
Empiricism holds that the landmark of scientific theories is their verifiability by induction from evidence. Many versions of empiricism exist, with the predominant ones being bayesianism (using Bayes' rule to compute the inductive probability of theories from evidence) and the hypothetico-deductive method (inductive confirmation of theories taken as purely hypothetical at the point of invention).
Empiricism has stood in contrast to rationalism, the opposing position originally associated with the approach of Descartes as opposed to Bacon, which holds that knowledge is created by the human intellect, not by observation. A significant twentieth century version of rationalism is critical rationalism, first defined brought forward by Austrian-British philosopher Karl Popper. Popper acknowledged the fact that a connection exists between observation and theories, but rejected the way that empiricism describes the nature of this connection between theory and observation. More specifically, Popper He claimed that theories are not generated by observation, but that observation is made in the light of theories—that observation is "theory-laden"—and that the only way a theory can be affected by observation is when it comes in conflict with it. Popper proposed falsifiability (the ability of theories to come in conflict with observation) as the landmark of empirical theories, and falsification (the search for observations that conflict with the theory) as the empirical method to replace verifiability and induction by purely deductive notions. Contrasting his views with inductivism, he went so far as to claim that the scientific method does not actually exist: "(1) There is no method of discovering a scientific theory (2) There is no method for ascertaining the truth of a scientific hypothesis, i.e., no method of verification; (3) There is no method for ascertaining whether a hypothesis is 'probable', or probably true"[1] Instead, he further claimed that there is really only one universal method in science, and that this method is not specific to science: The negative method of criticism, trial and error. It covers all products of the human mind, including science, mathematics, philosophy, and art and so on, and even extends to the evolution of life.[2] Popper especially questioned the claim that there is a difference between the natural and the social sciences[3] and criticized the prevalent philosophy of the social sciences as scientistic, as a "slavish imitation of what certain people mistake for the method and language of science".[4] He contributed to the so-called Positivism dispute with respect to this question, a philosophical dispute between Critical rationalism (Popper, Albert) and the Frankfurt School (Adorno, Habermas) about the methodology of the social sciences. Popper, together with students William W. Bartley and David Miller, also questioned the classical theory of rationality. This theory claims that rational knowledge in general, and scientific knowledge in particular, stands out as knowledge that can be justified in a way that other claims cannot be justified. Popper criticized the very concept of justification (see justificationism), held that science or rationality in general have no way of justifying or sanctioning ideas at all[5] and argued that rationality is simply willingness to accept criticism and change one's views accordingly, and to criticize the views of others—not the ability to justify one's views, or the ability to criticize the lack of justification of the views of others. Popper, Bartley and Miller also argued against limits of rationality, especially against seeing falsifiability as a limit of rationality.[6][7][8] Accordingly, they rejected the view that science has authority and instead considered it as inherently fallible.
Another approach, instrumentalism, colloquially termed "shut up and calculate", emphasizes the utility of theories as instruments for explaining and predicting phenomena.[9] It essentially claims that scientific theories are black boxes with only their input (initial conditions) and output (predictions) being relevant. Consequences, notions and logical structure of the theories are claimed to be something that should simply be ignored and that scientists shouldn't make a fuss about (see interpretations of quantum mechanics).
A position often cited in political debates of scientific skepticism against controversial movements like creationism, that purport to be scientific, but have controversial criticisms of mainstream science, is methodological naturalism. Its main point is that a difference between natural and supernatural explanations should be made, and that science should be restricted methodologically to natural explanations. That the restriction is merely methodological (rather than ontological) means that science should not consider supernatural explanations itself, but should not claim them to be wrong either. Instead, supernatural explanations should be left a matter of personal belief outside the scope of science. Methodological naturalism maintains that proper science requires strict adherence to empirical study and independent verification as a process for properly developing and evaluating explanations for observable phenomena.[10] The absence of these standards, arguments from authority, biased observational studies and other common fallacies are frequently cited by supporters of methodological naturalism as criteria for the dubious claims they criticize not to be true science.

Thoughts? mezzaninelounge (talk) 21:31, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

Looks good to me. It is too long and you have done a good job. --Bduke (Discussion) 22:26, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

Which school does the hypothetico-deductive method belong to?

According to the Philosophy of Science section of this article, the hypothetico-deductive approach is described as being a "version of empiricism." I have always understood this approach as being a hybrid between inductive and deductive approaches, hence its name. Moreover, I have always understood it to be associated with Popper rather than with Locke. Does anyone have a reference to verify the description in this section? If not, I think it should be deleted as it can be potentially misleading. mezzaninelounge (talk) 17:16, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

It's an error to associate h-d approach with Popper. H-D approach goes back to Bacon, Locke and that period of empiricism. Popper is associated with falsificationism. (PhD Phil of Sci here) MartinPoulter (talk) 18:35, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
But aren't we trying to falsify a hypothesis when we use the H-D approach? Isn't that what Popper advocates? In any event, do you have a reference? Just so we can provide a citation and resolve this issue quickly. Thanks for the response. mezzaninelounge (talk) 20:14, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
The Hypothetico-deductive model wiki claims (with general references to Whewell's books) that Whewell coined the phrase "hypothetico-deductive." The History of scientific method wiki traces elements of the method pretty far back, and it quotes Jevons describing, as "inductive inference," the typical hypothesis-deduction-observation picture. Suitable references seem findable through those wikis. Peirce's model, which is later than Whewell, Jevons, etc., could fairly be called "hypothetico-deductive-inductive" where induction is understood to be the evaluation (statistical or otherwise) of the hypothesis by testing its deductive predictions. All of that is pre-Popperian. Poulter seems right, Popper is associated most prominently with the idea of the critical importance of testability for falsity, i.e., of falsifiability, as he called it to some morphological detriment. The Tetrast (talk) 21:15, 30 May 2011 (UTC).
Tetras, thanks for the response. I guess I'm looking at the wikipage on H-D model as well and I am still confused. Because the H-D is described in such a way that it fits Popper's critical rational model of falsifying hypotheses/theories. If empiricism is described in this article as being different or opposite to rationalism, or critical rationalism, then I don't understand how the H-D model is an expression or version of empiricism when it contains features of rationalism as well. If anything, it appears to be a hybrid of the two. That is my question. mezzaninelounge (talk) 21:21, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
That's a tougher question, partly historical, partly philosophical. For my part I dunno for sure, I hope Poulter or others will jump back in. Is H-D associated mainly with those who regarded themselves or are regarded as empiricists? That's historical. After all, empiricists do not, so far as I know, do not, very many of them, reject the application of deductive formalisms, while rationalists are regarded as hoping eventually to deduce everything from first principles and they make intellect and deduction the source of truth. Peirce of course did not regard the forming of an explanatory hypothesis as inductive (much less as deductive), but as instead involving another kind of inference altogether. If "empiricist" philosophically (despite historical variation) implies "inductivist" to the exclusion of deduction, then it doesn't accommodate H-D so well. And, even putting deduction aside, H-D doesn't fit such inductivism if induction means, a la Peirce's view of it, inference from samples to totalities, since how does one infer to the explanatory hypothesis. Empiricists do tend to be experimentalists, and to believe in the testing of hypotheses; but people often call inference to a hypothesis "induction" or deny that it is inference at all. The Tetrast (talk) 21:54, 30 May 2011 (UTC).
So you see my dilemma. Yes, I will wait for Martin and others to respond fully. mezzaninelounge (talk) 22:13, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

Edit request from AUN4, 17 June 2011

Hi. The part of this article that mentions "battery eggs" is clearly a typo (or old uncaught vandalism) and should read "eggs". Please fix, thanks.

AUN4 (talk) 20:29, 17 June 2011 (UTC)

Done. mezzaninelounge (talk) 20:33, 17 June 2011 (UTC)

and good-faith edit undone; it was neither a typo nor vandalism. See Battery cage. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 21:19, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
That was what I thought but didn't check further. My mistake. Thanks for catching that. Should we then change it battery cage instead to avoid future confusion? mezzaninelounge (talk) 21:26, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
Nvm, there is already a wikilink. mezzaninelounge (talk) 21:32, 17 June 2011 (UTC)

Using war example

In the Basic and applied research section, this is used as an example of how basic research can yield useful result:

"For example, research into the effects of red light on the human eye's rod cells did not seem to have any practical purpose; eventually, the discovery that our night vision is not troubled by red light would lead militaries to adopt red light in the cockpits of all jet fighters."

While it is true and all, isn't there a better example to use? The most preferred would be something everyone recognizes as a part of everyday life, and that cannot be misinterpreted as "science used for evil". - Anton Nordenfur (talk) 02:17, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

Actually, avoidance of mention of military applications of science would be rather misleading about science irrespectively of whether both sides in a given war are evil for waging it. The Tetrast (talk) 07:12, 1 July 2011 (UTC).
It's not about avoiding to mention it, it's about choosing what example should represent lucky strokes of science. I think there are many examples which are more relateable to more people. Mentioning an example one doesn't think of that often (night vision) makes it harder to grasp than something which appears in the everyday life. - Anton Nordenfur (talk) 07:19, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
No, you're not only talking about relating to everyday experience. You did also say that it's about preferring that which "cannot be misinterpreted as 'science used for evil'." And now you've said it's about "what example should represent lucky strokes of science." The findings about red light turned out to be a lucky stroke for jet fighters. So if you want, just search around the Web for a better example of an unexpected fortunate application of pure and seemingly useless research. This discussion is not even worth having. The Tetrast (talk) 07:34, 1 July 2011 (UTC).

I am not so sure about that last point at least. Science is (to me) our greatest tool for acquiring knowledge, and is consequently used in pursuits like war, but war itself is a highly unfortunate activity... Accordingly, for this example of a lucky discovery, I have shifted the emphasis to the benefits for search and rescue teams.-Tesseract2(talk) 15:09, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

"Nature's veil"

The caption under the first image, reading "Science is an earnest attempt to pull away Nature's veil", does not seem appropriately encyclopedic in nature. While I personally appreciate the caption's poetic value, Wikipedia should seek to provide an objective definition without reference to metaphorical, potentially non-neutral and non-verifiable expressions such as "Nature's veil". If this is a direct quote from someone, it should be indicated as such. Otherwise, it should be removed entirely. Additionally, the word earnest is highly problematic, potentially violating NPOV and ignoring more global perspectives, for there are numerous "non-scientific" methods of inquiry into the world in which people earnestly, though probably not very successfully, seek to explain and interpret natural phenomena. --N-k (talk) 20:58, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

I'm not yet persuaded that the earlier, simpler and more precise caption (that I came up with !>) is particularly in"appropriately encyclopedic in nature". (Interesting choice of words: "in nature".) I'm also unconvinced of "earnest"'s "highly problematic" violation of NPOV. Why do you feel the word is biased? In the real world, scientists go to great lengths to uncover Nature's secrets. That sounds "earnest" to me. I won't change the caption back right away, though, because perhaps other editors have an opinion they'd like to share, and perhaps you, N-k, can clarify all this for us? – Paine Ellsworth ( CLIMAX )  13:34, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
Personally I did not find the word "earnest" problematic at all. There is no conflict between science as well as non scientific methods earnestly pursuing knowledge. You could put that back in if you liked, imo.
I obviously was slightly persuaded that WP should not be too heavy handed with (even very beautiful) metaphors. In summaries and captions, it would always be better to say "Humans as we know them to day evolved over the course of many thousands of years" rather than "The story of our branch of the tree of life is one that dates back many sunrises" etc etc. That having been said, nice prose is nice - so it is a balancing act. No one wants a boring or pictureless WP. And actually I did keep at least keep an artistic summary of the image.-Tesseract2(talk) 15:23, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
I don't know what the fuss is. I thought the original caption by Paine was fine. The current one is ok too. A little wordy, but ok. mezzaninelounge (talk) 16:40, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

The hypothetico-deductive method eschews empirics

It seems to me that H-D doesn’t itself concern data or testing or anything empirical. There’s a hypothesis and there is a deduction. I am not depending on the meaning of the words but suggesting, rather, that data actually confuse things and hence get in the way of hypothesis formation. For example, people once thought (presumably with thousands of years of data) that heavier things fall faster. Galileo did a thought-experiment and debunked it.

If you dropped objects from the Tower of Pisa, all you could conclude from your data would be that cannon-balls have a greater “downward tendency” than basketballs or feathers. You’d never infer any useful generalisation about gravity.

Galileo hypothesised interrelationships between idealised natural objects. He thought of a perfect sphere touching a perfect plane in a single point (whatever that may be) and rolling friction-free. These conditions do not occur in nature so there are no data to be observed. Where G might have got the idea from is a psychology question and not relevant to H-D. If he had collected, say, avalanche data he'd have got nowhere. Yet to study avalanches you need his idealised theory.

G also hypothesised about pendulums. His rival, Guidibaldo del Monte, made fun of him for being out of touch with reality but it was that reality which was confusing everyone. Not only did G not get his equations from data but when tested they wouldn’t fit the data. When other researchers complained of this G just insisted that his pendulum had no friction, had a weightless string, and had a weight that had no physical size. Again: reality idealised. If G had taken notice of the data he’d be as famous today as del Monte is.

If we may extrapolate from these examples, then we have to say that the H-D - successful science - method is:

H: hypothesise the relationship between imaginary, idealised objects

D: deduce some consequence from that relationship.

That’s it: empiricism studiously avoided.

A further point bears mentioning. The deduction is a tautology since the consequence must be inherent in the relationship for it to have been deduced. It seems, then, that H-D consists of tautologically deducing the imaginary consequences of an imaginary relationship between imaginary objects.

If there is some circumstance in nature which approximates to the idealised situation then the deduced consequence can be tested and possibly falsified. But that, again, is a separate issue from H-D. (talk) 04:33, 27 July 2011 (UTC) Pepper

Women in science?????

I strongly believe the paragraph is of a subjective and naive in nature, and I wish for it to be removed. I question the relevance of the paragraph, and the wording which has been chosen. In a wiki whose purpose is to address the principles of science, perceived generalisations such as this are not relevant.

I would prefer the paragraph be listed in media appropriate, such as a magazine.

Women in science Main article: Women in science Estudiante INTEC.jpg

Science is, in general, a male-dominated field. Evidence suggests that this is due to stereotypes (e.g. science as "manly") as well as self-fulfilling prophecies.[57][58] Experiments have shown that parents challenge and explain more to boys than girls, asking them to reflect more deeply and logically.[59] Physicist Evelyn Fox Keller argues that science may suffer for its manly stereotypes when ego and competitiveness obstruct progress, since these tendencies prevent collaboration and sharing of information.[60] As will be seen in the main article, many women have risen above past prejudices to do great things in science. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:33, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

Um...given that it's very well sourced, to scientific studies, in fact, I don't see why you're claiming that it's subjective or naive. REmember, it's just designed as a one paragraph summary of a much larger article. What specifically do you think is subjective or naive? Qwyrxian (talk) 16:37, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

Is history a science?

I think history is a science, and it is included under the drop down menu on the right side of the page of the sciences. I am sure some people do not think history is a science. How can history be defended as a science? Before history can be defended as a science, it must be backed up by a good argument demonstrating that it as a science in the first place. Any ideas? Psychedelic Yogi (talk) 04:04, 9 August 2011 (UTC)

Nature vs Universe

The article starts with:

Science (from Latin: scientia meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.

Isn't "Nature" broader than "Universe"? I don't want to edit and cause problems, better discuss first. Thanks. Yosef1987 (talk) 10:15, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

It is a question that has been discussed before, and it is certainly not a crazy question. Have a look in the archives for this talk page. You can search by key words up above.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 11:08, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm glad it wasn't a crazy question! Phew! But I'm more concerned about the linking, the Universe article is mostly about physical cosmology, and the Nature article would exclude some sciences as well. I've looked at some of the discussions (thanks), but they don't tackle my concern. For which - after checking the discussions - leaves me with an idea: why not rephrase it with an emphasis on the knowledge article? None of the references seem to highlight the universe in particular for the definition. Yosef1987 (talk) 13:54, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Edit: Disregard. Yosef1987 (talk) 10:00, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

Scientific Propositions can never be Proven

'Whether mathematics itself is properly classified as science has been a matter of some debate.' Do enough scientists and mathematicians hold such a bizzare view that this section warrants being included? The differences between math & science are too numerous to list here; but it should be sufficient to note that a term as fundamental as 'truth' has a completely different meaning in each. Perhaps this section should be removed. Geologist (talk) 19:19, 30 September 2011 (UTC)

I think it is good to have a section on Math and Science as the two tend to be discussed together as a single topic. A section that discusses the similarities and differences between the two would be informative to readers. danielkueh (talk) 15:31, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree. The article does not need to take a strong position either way, but not to mention the link would make the article less informative.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 10:10, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Let's cook up......

Ok -first step, GAN. Issues to look at....Casliber (talk · contribs) 23:58, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

  • Is this article comprehensive? More specifically, has it got the right hierarchy? Has important stuff been missed for more esoteric stuff? Might be good to set a prose cap and go from there. Casliber (talk · contribs) 23:58, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Something that might be interesting to consider is if the article is rather heavily slanted to a Western point of view. I see way more mentions of European and American scientists and ideas, and pretty much nothing from the Middle and Far East, South America, Africa, etc (although the last two have never really been heavy into scientific advancement, AFAIK). Dana boomer (talk) 00:32, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
  • ...who is Joseph Ben-David anyway? Seems an odd person and odd source to quote.....?
  • According to this JSTOR article, he was fairly prominent in the field of "sociology of science". I'm not totally sure I agree with him, considering, for example, Science in medieval Islam, but he is a known figure in the scientific community. Dana boomer (talk) 00:32, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
  • I am also not familiar with him, but many authors have made the same type of comment. A better source is probably possible, but would essentially say the same. I think the point Dana boomer raises about medieval Islam is covered if you read the quote in context, but maybe we need to make that context more clear: a fundamental distinction is generally made between pre-modern science and modern science, which definitely is identifiably distinct, and definitely started in Europe. It was of course heavily indebted to Greek and Islamic science, but it was also a new approach. To take an example Copernicus used models of orbits developed already in Persia some generations earlier, but the Persian astronomers who developed them never took the next step of saying that the Earth went around the sun.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 13:25, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Do we want to decide on a citation format at the beginning or go along with everyone adding cites how they want and then standardize them at the end? There's currently a mix of sfn/harvnb linking to cite book templates in the References section, cite xyz and no templates. Do we want to use sfn formatting on all books, or just ones that are used multiple times? I personally think that standardizing first and then working from there is best - saves a lot of work at the end when you have 300 refs to go through and fix up - but maybe that's just me. I'll volunteer to keep an eye on the formatting and try to make sure everything's pretty once we decide what we want to do, if that works for everyone. Dana boomer (talk) 00:23, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, they are somewhat heterogeneous - was looking at them but then pondered that some might be unneeded. Probably best to go through comprehensiveness first and see what gets promoted or relegated..? Casliber (talk · contribs) 00:28, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
Maybe do an initial weeding once we get a few more comments here, and then do a fix up? Like I said, I just think it will be easier to standardize as we go, rather than waiting for there to be hundreds of refs in a dozen formats before we try to decide on and implement a style. Dana boomer (talk) 00:34, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
Sure, I've been copyediting when I see things, which I shouldn't do until we get content right but there you go ;) Casliber (talk · contribs) 04:32, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
Initial take: (1) The history section is the strongest although far from perfect; (2) Every other section is pretty weak; (3) Particularly glaring are the absence of a discussion of the relationship between science and religion, and the lack of a treatment of philosophical approaches to the problem of inductive reasoning. I'm sure there are other things that will be equally glaring as soon as they occur to us. I don't think starting with a prose cap will be useful, but I do think it will benefit us to think early about the article structure: in my experience settling early on a good article structure is the key to getting an article to work. Looie496 (talk) 00:38, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
Other missing topics: (*) The relationship between science and technology; (*) The concept of a scientific revolution. Looie496 (talk) 00:48, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
Sound good to me all Looie. Casliber (talk · contribs) 04:32, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

Pursuing the theme, I wonder if it would make sense to create Talk:Science/Outline, and use it to cooperatively work out an article structure? (Not to be set in stone, of course.) Looie496 (talk) 03:39, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

Hmm, dunno. I reckon here is ok - as there will be ongoing discussion here. Could just try it as a level three header - was what I was thinking of WRT "comprehensiveness". Casliber (talk · contribs) 04:32, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
Strike that - this page is getting unwieldy pretty darn quickly ...Looie go for it and set up a subpage. Casliber (talk · contribs) 02:18, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

TCO take:

1. I agree with y'all's impressions of the article. The major thing is to decide what should be in there and get the content. Right now, it seems very uneven and ad hoc. Some topics not covered at all (commercial aspects, development of big science). Some places where they blather on about a quote wrt pure research. I'd like a little more on the major fields themselves as subheaders, etc. I bet any one of us would come up with something sort of different, but in any case it would be an improvement over what is in there now. And if we toss it around, hopefully can cover each other's blind spots and be better than any one singly. Definitely writing out an outline of topics (perhaps with approximate number of paras) would be a good starting point.

2. If Dana is just itching to get going on footnotes, would say, why don't you go ahead and pick a format (especially if you are going to do most of the work). I trust you to put what is best for us out there. Only caution I would have is that if you are quivering to redo the citations in this current article, just realize 50%+ of the content may be changing. It's just not in the state where we have the right content and just need polishing. (talk) 05:22, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

  • I started to edit the references in the article – and then remembered that I need to get a consensus. Would you all be happy if I moved the cited books from the "Notes" to the "References" sections - replacing the inline citations with sfn templates? I favour the use of templates as it is easier to maintain a consistent style, but if you all hate templates then I'm prepared remove all templates and hand craft everything. The other possibility (my least favoured option) is to remove the present "References" section and cite each book directly. This becomes ugly when many different pages are cited from the same book – but this is unlikely to be the case with this article. I'm aware that a good many of the present references are going to disappear in the upgrade. Aa77zz (talk) 15:37, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
We should definitely use templates of some sort. Having tried out a bunch of things myself, my opinion is that we should avoid approaches that give separate Notes and References sections -- they are ugly and hard to maintain. I think we should probably just use inline cite templates. They are evil, but every method is evil in some way. Looie496 (talk) 16:15, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
In my opinion having two sections can be a good arrangement - particularly when the article has citation to different pages in the same book - an excellent example is the recently promoted Richard Nixon article. As I mentioned above, for the present article it may be less clear cut as I suspect it will be rarely necessary to quote the same book on multiple occasions. Aa77zz (talk) 18:16, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
I also like the separate notes and references section (using the sfn template to link shortened footnotes to their full companions in the reference section) - I feel that it makes it cleaner and easier to read/navigate. I like using templates for the full refs - they are one of the best ways to provide consistency when you have a bunch of authors working on the same article. Citing each book directly in the notes section can tend to make that section very bulky and hard to navigate, IMO. Dana boomer (talk) 21:08, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

Top level article structure

Here is a starting thought on how to organize the article by theme:

  • History
  • The scientific approach, in theory and practice
  • Science as a human activity
  • Philosophy
  • The relationship between science and other things

These are not intended as section titles, simply as crude indicators of themes. Each would have a range of subtopics. Will that work? Am I missing anything essential? Is the order correct? Looie496 (talk) 16:27, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

I like your suggestion above that we take the structure/outline discussion to a subpage, so let's see if others like that idea too. Till then we can discuss it here. Here's the current structure:
1 History and etymology
2 Branches
3 Scientific method
3.1 Basic and applied research
3.2 Experimentation and hypothesizing
3.3 Certainty and science
4 Mathematics
5 Scientific community
5.1 Fields
5.2 Institutions
5.3 Literature
5.4 Women in science
6 Philosophy of science
7 Science policy
8 Pseudoscience, fringe science, and junk science
9 Critiques
9.1 Philosophical critiques
9.2 Media perspectives
9.3 Politics and public perception of science
Some comments about the differences between this and your suggested (which I understand is not a proposed outline, but let's talk about what the consequent outline would look like):
  • Etymology -- doesn't need to be mentioned at the top level; can (and should) be an embedded part of the history discussion, which I agree must come first.
  • Branches -- if we need this at all it should not be early in the article. Some mention of some of the branches of science will occur naturally in the history section -- for example, the separation of social sciences, as currently discussed in the article.
  • You have "The scientific approach, in theory and practice" followed by "Science as a human activity" -- I'm not clear how the "practice" part of the first section could be clearly separated from the content of the second section. The current article avoids this problem by having sections called "scientific method" and "Scientific community". I think this is a useful separation.
  • Are you suggesting that the content of the "Philosophy of science" section in the current article would naturally be associated with the "theory" part of the "scientific approach in theory and practice" that you include? It seems to me quite a different topic to scientific method.
  • The relationship between science and other things -- I think this is a good way of thinking of the remaining material; the miscellanea, so to speak, though we wouldn't use that as a section title, of course. To the extent that the content of "science policy", "media perspectives" and "public perception" is good material, I assume that would fit under this rubric?
-- Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 18:19, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
To flesh that out, by "the scientific approach" I mean the approach of learning the laws of nature by means of experiments and systematic observation. By "science as a human activity" I mean the categorization of some people as scientists, and the behaviors that distinguish scientists from other people. By "philosophy" I mean things like the concept of a law of nature, the principle of induction, Occam's razor, and Aristotle's distinction between proximal and final causes.Looie496 (talk) 19:01, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

It may (or may not) be useful to consult outline of science, which is an attempt to organise the articles that Wikipedia has on the topic. The actual article structure should, though, be guided more by looking at how other encyclopedias and books structure their coverage of science as an article-level topic. This is one of a number of things I would put on a list of things to do before jumping headlong into something like this. Carcharoth (talk) 18:28, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

The outline of science is indeed useful to look at. I fear that if we don't jump headlong, we will never jump at all. Making things depend on indefinite other things is a recipe for going nowhere. We should come up with the best arrangement we can, and be open to changing it later if we see a need. Looie496 (talk) 19:01, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
Well, yes, jumping headlong is sometimes good. I made some suggestions below in a section titled 'organisation', but rather than follow that plan, I'm now going to do a critique of the sources currently used in the article. Go figure. :-) Carcharoth (talk) 19:24, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

Another thing to consider when discussing the structure of the article is the current disambiguation hatnote: "This article is about the general term, particularly as it refers to experimental sciences. For the specific topics of study by scientists, see Natural science. For other uses, see Science (disambiguation)." Any major changes to the article will either have to fit within that article scope statement, or include a change in that statement. Carcharoth (talk) 22:55, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

  • Two cents: This article is currently a higher order view of Natural Science and contains insufficient science-general or social-science related examples, content, etc. I read this article in conjunction with Natural Science and got the feeling that I read the same article twice, or one article spread inconveniently across two pages. Fifelfoo (talk) 01:10, 17 October 2011 (UTC)


Some things should be done before getting too far along with any rewrite of this article:

  • (1) Notify various WikiProjects (for expert help if nothing else).
  • (2) Tidy the talk page to provide a discussion space (or set one up on a subpage with a note here).
  • (3) Look at the existing article text and see if the majority has been contributed by any one or few editors and as a courtesy notify them before ripping it all up and starting again from scratch. Also review the archived talk pages and previous reviews and notes on plans for the article, such as Talk:Science/to do and the review from 2006 at Wikipedia:Scientific peer review/Science (don't be misled by the Mars thing at the top, that shouldn't be there - probably no use but may have some useful comments and if the editors there are still editing I would suggest inviting them to this discussion). There was also a Article Collaboration and Improvement Drive earlier this year for the week of May 29, 2011 - that could also be checked (along with inviting the editors who participated there to this discussion).
  • (4) Survey other article-length encyclopedia-style texts on this topic and see whether this gives a good guide as to the structure to use here.
  • (5) Survey the existing high-level articles on this topic (I suggested starting at outline of science, but looking at Category:Science and Portal:Science and Template:Science will also help). Other Wikipedia outlines and indices are at Portal:Contents/Outlines#Natural and physical sciences and Portal:Contents/Natural and physical sciences.
  • (6) Compartmentalise the discussions - external links, further reading, images, templates, and so on, can be discussed largely independently of the content of the main body, so dedicate discussions to those aspects of the article.
  • (7) Be crystal-clear on what sort of sourcing to use. Be rigorous here (e.g. excluding newspaper articles and recent journal articles and sticking strictly to secondary and tertiary literature from academic presses by established authors would be one approach). Look at the existing text and sources and be ruthless. The available bibliography on this topic and its subtopics (like any broad topic) is immense. Dedicated discussions will be needed for each section and subsection. Leave notices on the talk pages of subsidiary articles to get help with those subtopics, and also draw on the sources used on those subtopic articles.
  • (8) Decide on the level of detail versus summarising and be ruthless (otherwise the article will be too long). But don't just remove material. Try and find a home for it in a subarticle if it is not needed here. Always ask yourself: is this material better placed in a more specific article? Try and work out which sections will have links to a 'main article'. One of the big issues is the balance between this article and natural science and social science (among many other flavours). Probably most of the article will be spent explaining the origin and splintering of science into these multiple disciplines, so the best source available on that would be very useful.
  • (9) Look at how this has been done before elsewhere. There are top-level science topics that are featured. Read those and see how the editors at those articles handled all these issues. Though looking at the structure of the article, it may make more sense to look at other 'overview' articles that have been featured (if any) and see how those were handled.
  • (10) Try and work out how long you expect to spend on this and take it slowly and a bit at a time. Make clear that not everyone has to help all the time, but there does need to be a few people to push things along. Working in parallel on different sections should be possible.

The priority, I think are the first four points and the last one. Points 1-3 and 10 can be sorted relatively quickly. Then some serious time should be spent on points 4 and 5. Then gather the sources and go through editing-review-discussion cycles until most people are happy with the result (but don't try and please everyone). Carcharoth (talk) 19:12, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

Prior discussion

A prior discussion that I think is worth looking at is here. I have only skimmed it so far but it looks of interest both for understanding any consensus formed and for identifying issues that were discussed at that time. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:58, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

Source review

I've been looking at the sources (in this version of the article), and the following points need to be considered, IMO:

  • Having four references to the first sentence in the lead section to bolster the definition provided there isn't a great sign. One is to a dictionary definition, one is to a work by Karl Popper, one is to Consilience by E. O. Wilson, and one is to a work by Ludwik Fleck. Trouble is, I'm not clear on what specific points each of those works is being cited to support in that first sentence. The Popper and Wilson sources are the right sort of thing, but should be used in the main body of the article. I don't think dictionary definitions should be cited. Fleck, I'm not familiar with, but looks OK for use in the main body of the article, but not the lead.
  • The next reference gives a quote from Aristotle. What is needed here is a modern source for the assertion about Aristotle, not a direct quotation from Aristotle's works.
  • Then we have a reference to Newton (Consider, for example, Isaac Newton (1687) Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica), when what we should have is modern source to cite this. The next source (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) is better, though the quote may be excessive. As before, citing in the lead may not be the right approach here.
  • The next bit of the lead section uses another dictionary definition, this time the OED, and a long quote from the OED. I'm not convinced this is the right approach here. Dictionary definitions are not what we should be providing.
  • The final citation in the lead is to a 1949/1965 work by Max Born. Again, while the text is OK, I'm not convinced this is the best source to cite. There needs to be an extra layer here, with us citing someone who cites this to Born. And that kind of detailed citation needs to go in the main body of the article, not the lead.

That is just the lead section. Looking briefly over the rest of the sources used, I see Kuhn in the further reading section (he should be used as a source). There are a number of works in the 'further reading' section that could be brought into the article as sources, but again with distance provided with a modern authoritative work on 'science' being used to refer to these major works. The type of works mentioned also varies from heavy academic books to essays, articles and popular expositions. The dates vary from recent (2000s) to mid- and late-20th century.

In the inline references, there are newspaper references (reference 41 to Dawkins in a 2005 Guardian article), and a bare URL (reference 42). Reference 29 is a bare URL to an archive of Dawkins articles. Reference 20 is a bare URL to Rees' Reith Lecture from 2010, which isn't a bad idea as a source to use, but needs tidying. Having three citations to Peirce is excessive. As always, a modern source is needed to place Pierce and others in their context. The sentence "An enormous range of scientific literature is published" is cited to a 1980 paper, which is not really what is needed there. Similarly for As of 1981, one estimate for the number of scientific and technical journals in publication was 11,500" - surely there are more updated figures than that. Reference 66 is a typical quote farm on definitions of pseudoscience, giving the topic far too much prominence in an article such as this. Skipping to the end, the article ends with a sentence on Edwina Currie and the Salmonella comments in 1988 referenced to a BBC 'On This Day' news article. That is not really appropriate for this article and is a poor finish. I could go on, but I skipped large parts of the article and only looked at the types of sources being used. Carcharoth (talk) 23:37, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

Just responding to your comments about the lead, I'd suggest that we leave it to last. The difficulty with a broad article like this is the need to summarize at such a high level; I think we're quite unable to summarize again, into the lead, until the content is fairly well settled. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:58, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
Agree content of lede should be deferred for the time being - the references should appear in the body for the same material and be taken out of the lede - and that can happen sooner though. Casliber (talk · contribs) 01:11, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Sure, add dealing with the lede section to a set of discussions that can be dealt with at the proper time, but to give an idea of how others handle this sort of article, have a look at the Encyclopedia Britannica online entry on science. It is around 120 words, and is mostly a definitional entry combined with pointing readers towards related topics. So that is the EB approach. How do other encyclopedias approach this topic? If you can bear it, have a look at how the EB 1911 handled the topic. What other article-length treatments exist of a topic like this? How long is the MacMillan encyclopedia entry and how is it structured? Carcharoth (talk) 01:47, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
I see no reason to stop editing the lead. I can understand that some individual editors are now working on other parts first, but we all have different interests, so we can all be looking at different things at the same time. I've made a couple of light edits today which are more aimed at getting the current version a bit more clear in its meaning. I think by its very nature the lead can preferably be looked at constantly while the rest of the article reforms. The two jobs can affect each other.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 12:09, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Ludwik Fleck (1935, in German), Genesis and development of a scientific fact was cited as antidote to logical positivism, and the positivist idea that science is received knowledge. To show its importance, Thomas Kuhn wrote the introduction to the translation of Fleck's book. Kuhn & Merton took comfort in the knowledge that Fleck's book existed, to keep scientism at bay (they admit it's a difficult book). I scanned the titles in my local library (35 titles not checked out, in the Dewey Decimal Classification), and was gratified to see that a new set of authors have arisen on this perennial topic (they keep tossing out the older titles, which I rescue for a dollar apiece :-). ). I have an agenda, which is to make sure that no one tries to foist "the last word" on this topic. Thanks to casliber, it's back on my watchlist. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 17:11, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
What would help is sources that comment on Fleck and place his work in a larger context. We need to cite those sources, rather than citing Fleck directly (other than quotes or as follow-on material). What there is far too much of in this and other articles is people trying to summarise directly in their own words what various seminal works in this area have said when there are plenty of reliable sources out there that have done this already. We don't need to try and explain what others have already explained. i.e. Rather than synthesizing an original overview of these ideas (an overview written by and argued about by Wikipedians), summarise things based on what later authors have said about all this. Carcharoth (talk) 21:57, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
I added Steven Shapin's quote on Fleck. Ironically, Shapin is a winner of the Ludwik Fleck prize. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 02:48, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Philosophy section

I'm going to start by reworking that section. Let me note that my general approach to writing is to blast out a bit of text each day for a while, and then work on revising, integrating, and referencing -- so please don't be upset if it goes through a period of incoherency. I have read through the philosophy of science article, but it is really just an accumulation of special topics and not very useful as a source of material.

My inclination is to organize the material by questions rather than the current organization by schools -- I think readers are better served that way. That's what I did in the philosophy section of the consciousness article, and I think it works reasonably well. Comments are welcome, of course. Looie496 (talk) 17:43, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

It is currently missing Feyerabend, Kuhn, Lakatos and similar social constructivist positions; their question is "Method? What method" which connects with your small paragraph on "get on and calculate," as its hipper, sinister, cynical cousin. Fifelfoo (talk) 21:47, 17 October 2011 (UTC) Fifelfoo (talk) 00:03, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

A couple of organizational and notification questions

A couple of questions/suggestions, now that work has started.

  • Would it be better to have the subpages such as Talk:Science/Outline set up elsewhere than article space? That would allow us to have both pages and associated talk pages, which might be helpful. I'm thinking of either a user page or a subpage of a relevant WikiProject.
  • Any objections to me posting some notifications to old locations that might attract interested participants? I'm specifically thinking of the FA team and the content review workshop, both of which have been silent for a long time, but which might still be watched be editors who would like to be involved. Anywhere else we should post?
  • What about posting to related Wikiprojects? I haven't checked what notifications have gone out but would be glad to post some notes if this hasn't been done.
  • How are we going to organize the tasks for this article, without the work of so many editors becoming an uncoordinated tangle? Casliber, you were nominated for a leadership role on this effort. Is there a coordination function that could be useful here? I suspect there is: nothing that would subordinate the autonomy of any of us, but an organizational focus to help us keep on track. If others agree, is that something you're willing to do, Cas? And that others are willing for you to do?

-- Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:31, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

I posted to many users who'd contributed significantly. I had forgotten to post to the wikiprojects. Regarding substantive contributions, I'd be amazed if any more than one or two people really put their shoulder to the wheel here and get stuck into it. Agree that having a layout in talk space proves problematic when looking for a "talk/talk" space for discussion. I'll have a look at the other non-talk venues. Casliber (talk · contribs) 04:04, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
So would I. Talk is easy. Malleus Fatuorum 04:22, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes; I'm having trouble figuring out how I can contribute, since I don't have enough background knowledge to be able to jump in. I can help work on organization and prose once the material is in, but the content is the hardest part since the subject is so broad. How about directed research? If we identify sources we should go read, I can do my share of obtaining and reading them. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:39, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Okay - Wikipedia:Content review/workshop is more for processes rather than specific articles. Wikipedia:WikiProject Featured articles/FA-Team/Mission Proposals is an option, but is just an uberpage, so things can carry on here as per before. But might be nice to transclude there. I'd say 3 months to GA and another month to FA is a good ballpark to run with. Casliber (talk · contribs) 05:00, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Mike - see Talk:Science/Outline discussion...quite easy really. I can jicker around with the names when archiving much later down hte track. Casliber (talk · contribs) 05:05, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
That sounds good enough to me. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:39, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
To help keep things organised (since the number of subpages of this talk page might grow), here is a useful link: [1]. That will help in putting everything in an archive box so discussions are easily accessed by other editors both now and in the future. Carcharoth (talk) 00:11, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Oh, god, not again

Too bad you couldn't see my wince when I read somebody above commenting that this article on science and the article on natural science looked like two versions of the same thing.

Why yes, they do. That is because some editors have been convinced that the word "science" now and forever more means "natural science" and alternate shadings of that word, plus previous history of it, should be apologized for. And that the formal sciences, social sciences, computer sciences, and political science are all badly named, or are at least now in political "limbo," as this article states. Sort of like the Catholic Church's limbo is in limbo, I guess. Yes, I see the infobox. I also see that nobody really pays any attention to it. This history is still here, and is good, but the rest of the "science" article just sort of carries on, as though it was about natural science, natural laws, and so on.

There's not much I can do about the language-recentists. If you must have the science article be (mostly) about natural science, I suggest you just delete the thing and redirect it. If NOT, then I suggest we delete much of the natural science content in the science article, and write a small natural science synopsis here per WP:SS, and make natural science the {{main| }} article for that section.

But I don't want to go through that debate again. SBHarris 01:43, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

I think there is a very good argument that this article should be nothing more than a short set of definitions with links to more detailed articles, which is the approach the Encyclopedia Britannica took (see the link I provided in the previous section). One way to sweeten the pill for those who have worked extensively on this article would be to ensure the material removed from here was not lost, but merely reviewed and if it was good enough it could then be moved to another article. However, much of the material here isn't really up to scratch. It is in parts a synthesis of past and current ideas, with the past ideas cited directly to older sources (rather than those sources being placed in their proper context by modern authors), and in parts a collection of opinions cited to a mish-mash of modern sources, with some irrelevancies added in for good measure. There are bits worth merging to various places, but IMO not much. This is not to denigrate the efforts of the editors who have been working here, but I think they have been working on the wrong article. Much of the material present here could easily be placed in subsidiary articles. Carcharoth (talk) 01:58, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Sbharris, I understand your pain (Anarchism, Communist genocide, Libertarianism, Holodomor). I'm hoping that an influx of editors who are dedicated to high quality reliable soruces may help the article. Fifelfoo (talk) 03:25, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
The aim of making this article one which leans more logical upon sub-articles, and provides a broader house where people can make sense of both natural and social sciences, as well presumably as other meanings such as classical/medieval, seems good to me. I am therefore a little concerned with some of the ideas for a very detailed structure which would try to cover too much? Such projects also have more propensity to peter out leaving something incomplete and imbalanced? It seems to me that the most important priority is to get a basic structure which is better and which covers the most important things well. If we try to cover every school of methodology for example, we will end up un-balancing the article.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 12:14, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, indeed. THIS article, if you decide to keep it, should cover only the history of development of term "science," plus summaries of the various types of science in the infobox, comparing and contrasting their methadologies. It will do no good (for example) to try to discuss library science, or the formal sciences, in terms of the standard inductive "scientific method." So save all that for the natural science article and the philosophy of science article (which is really about the philosophy of the inductive sciences, not the applied and formal sciences). Here is not the place, and the outline proposed works better for the other two articles, NOT HERE. This article has some good material in that direction, but it's in the wrong place. Move it. Where it's duplicated, choose the best version and delete the other, or synthesize in primary place and shorten and summarize per WP:SS in the other.SBHarris 17:39, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
I can't agree with that approach. When readers come to an article called science they will usually have certain questions in mind, and we should do our best to answer those questions if we can. Basically, to most people science is what scientists do, so we should try to give an overview of what scientists do and why they do it. Looie496 (talk) 17:45, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
...remembering that there is quite a range of different things called science. It is therefore a matter of defining what unites them, and giving good links onwards to more details. I think. I will be interesting to see if this ideal can be attained though. The normal tendency for "single important word" articles is that all passers by wish to include something that they think just has to be in. So I believe it is best, if we are trying to get a good quality which will also last a bit, that we aim at a simple good structure.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 19:49, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
There isn't anything that unites all the subfields of science except that they all claim to have reliable knowledge. Which is what the word "science" means. If you try to shoehorn in disparate fields like physics, mathematics, political science and library science with anything more than that simple definition, you'll end up saying things that are not true. Which will be amusing. SBHarris 21:23, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
So there is something which unites them.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 19:10, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, indeed, and this article will be improved the most strongly that point is made (that this is ALL that binds all these disciplines-- a claim to knowledge). But of course, you're not done as soon as you admit that that is all it is. All of these fields that have inductive components are then plagued with problems with epistemology. How do we test for valid knowledge? For the natural sciences, the proof is in prediction and test. For the observational sciences, it gets very wooley. Explanation has sometimes been used as as test, but explanation is easy-- any fool can tell you why the past happened and give you a very good story. I can "explain" why the stockmarket went down today (and all the pundits have done so). But they didn't tell us that YESTERDAY. And they're not quite so wise about what it will do tomorrow. In this sense, political science is a lot like an investment newsletter: it's much more sure if itself regarding the past, but if it knew the causes of things as well as it pretends, it could fairly frequently predict the future, and if it really could, the guys writing it wouldn't be sweating away making their money writing investment newsletters. SBHarris 21:39, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
SBHarris, yes, you are quite right that observational sciences need different treatment than physics, chemistry, biology; geology and astronomy can be tested experimentally by embedding observations within predictions as part of a theory (or hypothesis at least). The key point for observational sciences is that the predictions need to made public before the confirming observation. This means that the observations about geology or astronomy then become part of a larger theory about the observed development of the universe, which then can be used to test a physics theory, for example. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 23:57, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
Yep, public bets, just like at the parimutual horse track. Once horses are off, the windows come down. The worst theories are those that do NOT make any sort of testable clear prediction. As Wolfgang Pauli said, they are not EVEN wrong. Better a clear theory that make testable clear predictions that turn out to be wrong, than a theory that is not only evidence-free, but (due to its nature) also evidence-PROOF. The first theory is science, but error. The second isn't even science, but religion or philosophy. In fact, that's one way you can tell an idea is not a scientific one-- it can be used to explain any result you (later) come up with. SBHarris 00:27, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
The thread here seems to be drifting away from discussion of sources and what edits to make to the article, and drifting towards discussing the topic in a forum-style manner. It matters very little what individual Wikipedians think of the demarcation problem and epistemology. What is needed here is a clear discussion (without distracting sideshows) to decide: (1) What this article should cover; and (b) What sources are best used to achieve that. If there is disagreement about the scope of this article, model the narrative (or the article) on a reliable source rather than trying to construct your own narrative. Carcharoth (talk) 23:57, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm sorry to say that this effort is drifting off in exactly the direction I anticipated it would, with editors focusing on their own pet philosophers of science, without mention of whom the article would of course be a steaming pile of ordure. The problem is of course the same as with many (most?) of Wikipedia's scientific articles; we need to rely on review articles, or in this case general overviews of the field, not primary sources such as what Feynman or any one individual may or may not have said. I really couldn't agree more with the approach that Carcharoth has suggested. Malleus Fatuorum 00:05, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
Well either could I but I do not see discussing that as "drift". If there is a basic disagreement about the fundamental approach we may have problems.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 19:07, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
Like Malleus, I agree with Carcharoth's suggestion that what the article should cover and what sources to use are first steps here. I think the outline at Talk:Science/Outline is looking pretty good now and is a decent draft answer to "what should the article cover"; I look forward to seeing what Fifelfoo can do with it. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:01, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
SBHarris, thank you for that latest contribution. You have clearly stated just why the demarcation problem has dissolved as a problem, which was proven by Larry Laudan.
Carcharoth, based on Larry Laudan, who is cited by Peter Godfrey-Smith (2003), Theory and Reality, University of Chicago, ISBN 0-226-30062-5, I am adding Godfrey-Smith to the reading list below; I possess this title. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 03:46, 22 October 2011 (UTC)

OED quote

Imma just interject this here in the hope that it might be useful since I happen to have access and others might not:

4.a. In a more restricted sense: A branch of study which is concerned either with a connected body of demonstrated truths or with observed facts systematically classified and more or less colligated by being brought under general laws, and which includes trustworthy methods for the discovery of new truth within its own domain.
5.b. In modern use, often treated as synonymous with ‘Natural and Physical Science’, and thus restricted to those branches of study that relate to the phenomena of the material universe and their laws, sometimes with implied exclusion of pure mathematics. This is now the dominant sense in ordinary use.

— "science", OED online

--Cybercobra (talk) 02:14, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Thanks. I split this off to a separate section for its own discussion. I don't think dictionary quotes are useful here, but others might disagree. Carcharoth (talk) 03:04, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
Can you give a rationale?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 19:09, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm not saying dictionary definitions are useless, but you rarely see them in real encyclopedia articles, and that is because if people want dictionary definitions, they turn to a dictionary. Encyclopedia entries are meant to provide a bit more than that. For the etymology of a word, or an article about a word, it may be appropriate to quote a dictionary definition, but there will nearly always be a better way to tackle what we are trying to communicate to the readers. Anyway, this is beside the point, as this OED dictionary definition is already cited and quoted in this article. And the full OED entry is much longer than the parts provided here. Carcharoth (talk) 00:09, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
Actually as a general remark I already understood your comment, but in this particular case the citation seems quite useful.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 19:05, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

Science or natural science?

There is a fundamental disagreement brewing here (one that has happened in the past as well, it seems) between those who want to essentially rewrite this article to include much of what is covered at natural science and those who want the article to be much shorter and essentially a starting point article about origins, etymology, and definitions, with most of the detail being left for other articles. Please, before anyone goes any further, read this (Encyclopedia Britannica). That is a very short way to handle an article like this, and I think there should be serious consideration given to that approach. I mentioned it above but it may have got lost in the noise. Carcharoth (talk) 22:04, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

So EB takes physical science as the archetype for science, as you point out. "For ... see ..." It takes one sentence: thirteen words with two links.That won't work for us.
I think that Andrew Lancaster's approach is viable for this encyclopedia; we aren't going to get to the EB style because EB's style runs counter to the Manual of Style for this encyclopedia. It will be easier for this group to write in wikipedia style than in EB style, just based on group dynamics. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 22:56, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Maybe you should rm "Heads of Title" in the text below. It's not parsing. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 00:15, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
Much of the literature on history of science is amenable to a science article; though, in the past 200 years for social science you'd want to get a couple of histories of the disciplines of the social sciences if they're referred to in broad scale history of science literatures. Regarding methodological divides: I don't see why we can't Heads of Title cover cover as dense single sentence summaries noting the importance and excitement of, for example, Scientific method as bringing theory into a systematic relation to an external referent proof structure: Formal (Internal consistency), Quantitative (Experimental, Observational), Qualitative (Experimental, Observational). I'm very wary of the idea that some sciences are truly discursive in the humanities sense of methodology—but your average PhD level research methods book for the social sciences will discuss solidly constructivist and other similar edge-cases to the social sciences. Fifelfoo (talk) 23:47, 18 October 2011 (UTC) (edit: Fifelfoo (talk) 00:44, 19 October 2011 (UTC))
Wait. I can think of counterexamples: Darwin's book on natural selection is quite well written from a humanities POV, so I'm not sure if natural science can be included in your statement about humanities sense of methodology, above. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 00:15, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
Darwin uses a self-reflexive or text reflexive theory/methodology such as historiography or hermeneutics or literary criticism in his book on Natural selection? Compare the biological and sociological sections of Kropotkin's Mutual Aid: a factor in evolution for an example of the difference I'm talking about. Kropotkin's example of the competitive advantage of rabbit versus the hare is grounded in observation of external reality; Kropoktin's observation about the structure of the village as a commune in medieval Russia is grounded in an analysis of text. Fifelfoo (talk) 00:43, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
But how much of that would really be needed here, and how much in the more detailed articles? It is that divide between this article and the more detailed articles that will constantly be a problem. Some people will try and summarise here, others will try and expand, and it will be a constant back-and-forth unless it is very clear what is being attempted here. My view is that this article needs to avoid at all costs being rambling and discursive. It needs to be succinct and clear and to the point, leaving the details and complexity to later articles. Carcharoth (talk) 00:26, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
A lot of Mains, dense linking, and high order summaries. We can't present an account so succinct that it becomes triumphalist, one sided, or a caricature—the limit of succinctness is "Science: see also: natural science and social science." On the other side, I think we ought to introduce major controversies in the field (the content of Needham's work merits a sentence, for example). It is also hard to introduce Philosophy of science without noting the concerted 20th century attacks on the possibility of science. These are interesting enough topics to summarise here, to excite people about the main articles, and to tell them the story of where science is at at the moment. Fifelfoo (talk) 00:43, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
O.K. finally, something concrete I can contribute. In my local library, I have just found a nice precis of Needham's Grand Question with a believable thesis which explains the causes. Now, just where should that go in this article? --Ancheta Wis (talk) 00:55, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
I put some notes in the outline, it's the wrong place to put them so please tell me where you move them next; I plan to be gone for the next 10 days. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 19:52, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
(Hopefully you will see this when you get back) It would help if people explicitly named the sources they are proposing to use. From the diff you have provided there, it seems that the source you are using (presumably the same as the precis you state above that you found in your local library) is Patricia Fara's Science: A Four Thousand Year History (2009). I have that book on my shelves as well (I dug it out last night after rummaging around for the Gribbin work). This is good, as since two of us have this work that will help co-ordinate things. What I will do now is make a list below of the four books I've found on my shelves that may help here. Hopefully others will chip in, and we can go from there. Carcharoth (talk) 00:05, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
I'd suggest Joseph Needham and in the first paragraph of any History of Science section, I've noted it in the Outline. Stuff like the Needham question leads a reader into reading 4 densely summarised paragraphs on science history. Our current History section has 7 paras, none of which seem particularly connected to histories of science, all of which seem connected to an uncited triumphalist account. Fifelfoo (talk) 01:09, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
Could you go into more detail and say explicitly what the text is that you have a problem with? It might also help a bit if the editors working here said a bit more about their background, or what reading they have done on the topic. My background is studying history and philosophy of science for a year at university level nearly 15 years ago now, and having a (very small) range of books on the topic. But not much more than that. I suspect (from what is being said here) that others here are far more up-to-date and current and have studied the topic far more than that, but what needs to be avoided is people focusing too much on specifics, and what is needed is keeping the broad sweep of the article in mind. The key is deciding what to include and what to leave out. Try and put too much in and you overwhelm the reader. Leave too much out, and you don't really inform the reader about much at all. Carcharoth (talk) 01:57, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
A number of my colleagues are historians and philosophers of science. I'm a social science Historian who uses a discursive method (historiography). I've done a semester long doctoral seminar on social-science methodology as philosophy of science, using a text published by a Sydney academic focusing on Popper, Kuhn, Feyerabend IRRC with some dog-bear on the cover. I'll address text issues by paragraph in the section History and etymology. The central problem is that it follows neither its main article (History of science), nor the high quality scholarly literature's presentation—the Needham issue is only the most obvious.
  1. ¶1 is an introduction that is confused in its chronological presentation of the issue, and presentation of the problem of historicising science;
  2. ¶2 is an etymology quote, cited to "Hunt, Shelby D. (2003). Controversy in marketing theory: for reason, realism, truth, and objectivity"—perhaps not the best literature to cite on the point when there's an entire discipline attending to the issue?
  3. ¶3 is an etymology para, using EtymologyOnline, an Self-Published Source; and an Original Research interpretation of a Primary Source
  4. ¶4 is a more adequately cited etymology para, but is half uncited
  5. ¶5 is uncited etymology, Original Research?
  6. ¶6 is etymology apparently Original Research, and one appropriately cited sentence to a Historiography of Science book
  7. ¶7 is one sentence on history, unlike any history of science I've observed and unlike the main article, cited to a contemporary reception of science in the US sociology work. Then an appropriately cited etymology sentence. Then an inappropriate citation on etymology to the reception text. Then a sentence of original research.
  8. ¶8 is an appropriately cited etymology sentence, followed by a conjecture from an expert in an expert forum. Unfortunately the conjecture appears to be synthetic, as it isn't tied into a scholarly narrative justifying its inclusion (ie: the broad historiography of science as it exists). Such colour quotes need to be sustained by a narrative context, an actual history of science.
  9. ¶9 is a block quote from an expert practicioner: again it is original research by synthesis.
There's one inappropriately cited history of science sentence; one etymology citation to a history of science text, and two expert conjectures that aren't sustained by a high quality reliable source narrative. We use no history of science works, we don't duplicate the main article structure (History of science), and we don't actually tell even a summary history of science in this section. The structure of the main article for this context level is "Early cultures, Medieval science, Early Modern science, Modern science". The first text in the bibliography of the main article "Agassi, Joseph (2007) Science and Its History: A Reassessment of the Historiography of Science (Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 253) Springer." seems current, HQRS and precisely on topic, amongst a number of other works cited there (Kuhn, Lakatos, Needham). We can improve this by separating etymology from history, structuring the history based on the main article and scholarly history of science texts, and citing high quality reliable sources that have appropriate specialist context. Fifelfoo (talk) 02:43, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. I raised similar concerns to yours in the section titled 'source review' (on this talk page). I had also noticed the 'Controversy in marketing theory' source and mentally noted that it needed to be replaced. I agree absolutely that there is a need to use actual history of science and philosophy of science works that put the history and philosophers in their contexts (as you say 'a high quality reliable source narrative'). What would be most useful right now is probably identifying such sources to be used. Unfortunately, all I have accessible at the moment is Science: A History 1543-2001 by John Gribbin. That is more a popular-level treatment of the history of science, but I'm hoping you can suggest other texts in addition to the Agassi work from 2007 that you've mentioned above. What would be ideal is one that took a very broad overview of the whole of science in an encyclopedic style, but I doubt that is done much at the academic level any more. The closest I found was from around a century ago here. Wonderfully archaic, and not much use, but does anyone do essays or articles like that any more? Carcharoth (talk) 03:19, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
Brilliant, will do for History, possibly Philosophy. Fifelfoo (talk) 03:42, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Regarding ¶9: The Feynman Lectures on Physics are meant for very smart college freshmen. I am surprised any quote from the Feynman Lectures is called OR; every aspiring physicist reads Feynman. What's the disconnect? --Ancheta Wis (talk) 03:54, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

OR by Synthesis (disconnected from a HQRS account); OR by Primary. I can collate a sequence of factual statements, but it doesn't connect them to the topic—the issue is why we should quote Feynman on philosophy of science in a history of science section. Additionally Feynman is a self-reflecting practicioner, he's primary for the statement. If we had, for example, "Kuhn controversially emphasised the role of irrationality in scientific practice, quoting Feynman, "…"". It would be okay, or even if Kuhn or Schaffer, or someone referred to Feynman's practice in the history of science. The result is that the second Feynman quote is actually wrong (the majority of HQRS disagree with it), "...there is an expanding frontier of ignorance...things must be learned only to be unlearned again or, more likely, to be corrected." given that the most influential historians of science, and historians of social science, have been emphasising the social construction of knowledge, the contingency of ideas and practices, and the absence of one true and correct vision for 60 plus years. Fifelfoo (talk) 04:17, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
This means Fleck has won. Hurray. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 04:42, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
Forgive me if I've misread some of the above, but is this the science wars redux? I wouldn't quote Feynman as a source to support claims about Feynman's impact on physics (though I would cite other prominent physicists to support such claims and not only historians of science). But I don't see how a self-reflecting scientific practitioner's views about science are automatically OR or less reliable than a historian of science, nor do I see why the view of the "most influential historians of science, and historians of science" - influential, at any rate, on one another - for the past 60 years makes Feynman's view "actually wrong." Such a claim, that Feynman's view (which echoes Einstein's view) is therefore "actually wrong," is inconsistent when it comes from a radically truth-skeptical (not merely and reasonably fallibilistic) viewpoint that sees mainly or only social constructions to the near or total exclusion of right and wrong about facts. Scientist will usually not have an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of their fields, but they have to know some of it, and they are in a peculiarly good, experience-based position to understand scientific reasons that have influenced and helped determine that history. A field of practitioners with insufficient awareness of work in the field's past ends up spinning its wheels to reinvent the wheel, which was a major point of The Nature of Geography by the prominent geographer Hartshorne. The Tetrast (talk) 15:07, 19 October 2011 (UTC).
And this is why we'd quote Feynman on philosophy of science when he's an expert in practice about whether it is possible to make a true claim. But his historical statement about science being a continuous but punctuated progress of knowledge isn't borne out in expert literature, nor does Feynman have the academic expertise to determine if his comment on the history of science is true within the disciplinary methodology of history of science. Even quoting Feynman's peers (when they're not acting as historians of science) on the historicity of a particular Feynman quote is suspicious—they're not academically trained or reviewed by peers in the judgement of historicity and the practice of historiography. Hartshorne is a brilliant example of how a practicioner of science can conduct history of science. (Regarding truth statements here: wikipedia constructs itself through its policies, which heavily privilege expert reviewed expert speech in expert forums.) Moreover, as I've said, if there's an expert who concludes that Feynman's opinion (or an opinion fundamentally analogous) is significant at this high summary level of the history of science, then let's quote Feynman—in explanatory context, not as a classical style authority "Feynman also observed,". Compared to the Newton quote Feynman's quote does at least have the advantage of including the free complexification that progress may be inconsistent. Fifelfoo (talk) 00:20, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
You're getting things out of the second Feynman quote that I don't see in it - "science being a continuous but punctuated progress of knowledge" - Feynman was being much vaguer than that. He is quoted as saying simply "...there is an expanding frontier of ignorance...things must be learned only to be unlearned again or, more likely, to be corrected." He does not seem to be aiming to summarize the actual history of science. He notes that science has been growing and (echoing Einstein) likewise the surrounding frontier of ignorance, and that science involves ongoing self-correction.
I had trouble understanding why historians of science would quarrel with it, not to mention how the disagreement by the "most influential" historians of science would automatically make Feynman "actually wrong" that there are growing science, growing frontiers of ignorance, and the need for ongoing self-correction, especially when these same historians apparently believe that actual rightness/wrongness about facts is a mere social construct.
Then, reading Feynman's quote in its place in the wiki section "History and etymology," I find that, as far as I can tell, the wiki section offers the quote not as a "classical-style authority" on science's history, but instead as an example of the kind of conception of science that has become prominent in the course of science's history into the 20th Century. So I think that your criticism of it has missed its context.
The Tetrast (talk) 02:01, 20 October 2011 (UTC).
Here one should make a distinction between historians of science and philosophers of science. The historians may sometimes be working scientists (Pais) but sometimes are sociologists (like Feyerabend) or historians (Kuhn) who aren't working scientists. Some of these view science through the lens of social constructionism, which at worst can descend to complete philosophical relativism (the idea that science makes no objective progress in the search for "truth" at all). This makes the development of technology something of a miracle, but there are philosophers who believe it. However, no working scientist is a complete relativist-- all of them seem to believe in an objective reality of some sort, or at least in objective progress in science. Not like Kuhn, who seemed to believe that progress cannot be separated from community-belief. In any case, one also needs to ask the real question of who the "true" experts about the methods of science are? The armchair philosophers of science (who working scientists often pay no attention to)-- or the working scientists themselves?

IOW, are the ultimate authorities on airplane piloting the pilots themselves, or people who have never flown a plane, but write many books about it in the aeronautical philosophy dept? This is not off topic, but an essential Wikipedia question. It shows up in many WP debates, also. Does actually doing something for a living make you an expert, or does merely watching it and writing about it for a living make you an expert? WP answers: "the last." Ideally however, we must have both. SBHarris 18:46, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

SBHarris, we can take an example directly from the history of physics: Einstein lost the debate on quantum mechanics in the 5th Solvay Conference (1927), as his audience (his peers in physics) "voted". From then on, nothing he wrote was taken as leading edge (in his words "I am taken as an old fool" -- I will have to provide a citation, but it was in a memoir of a physicist who came to visit Einstein in later decades) and his quest for a unified theory was ignored from then on. In Fleck's terms, a 'thought collective' (meaning the attendees of the Solvay Conference) arrived at a collective decision. In other words, science starts out as an opinion from one person, which diffuses, step by step (Fleck calls this process the 'thought style'), among the members of a society (self-selected, obviously, because science is esoteric -- Fleck calls this journal science) who accept that opinion, or not. At some point, a practitioner rewrites the expert opinion into vade-mecum science (textbook science). This then becomes the collective property of that society (a scientific community) for use and reuse.
In other words, the 'aeronautical philosopher' you posit serves as the 'point of contact' to the rest of the world, as a representative of the community. The rest of the world can't tell the difference, and the practitioners either accept the aeronautical philosopher or not. One poignant example of a practitioner is Maclyn McCarty, who is photographed (the year is about 1975, which I infer from the color of Crick's hair) shaking hands with James Watson and Francis Crick. They got a lot of credit for recognizing just what was necessary to prove the significance of a Nobel-level result, the transforming principle which was unrecognized by the rest of the world for some decades, simply because the result was esoteric, even if true (you can't get the prize if the Nobel committee knows you are dead already -- they didn't know that this year, 2011, for one laureate). Crick and Watson got their prize on the shoulders of the laboratory team of Oswald Avery, Colin MacLeod, and McCarty.
--Ancheta Wis (talk) 11:59, 23 October 2011 (UTC)
While I would generally prefer to wait till the time is right to discuss the fate of the second Feynman quote (if I'm still popping in at that time), let me say now, on the more general associated issue, that I generally accept the Wikipedia idea that external reliable resources are good, but I question an automatic, across-the-board, presumptive preference for external sources as reliable on account of mere definition of the external source's own given field. The reliability of self-reflecting practitioners may also vary not only by the individual but also to significant average extents by field or walk of life, etc. Anyway, Hilary Putnam's scholarship on Peirce's historical importance in logic is what it is regardless of the fact Putnam himself is a philosopher and mathematician — the same work done on Peirce's role simply by a historian should hold up just the same. I also think that one should focus on the kind of claim — if a historian of science traces a historical development with good scholarly documentation, then that historian's view can outweigh the view of a practitioner who is just going by a rumor entrenched in the field. But if the question is something like, "what is science," "is it the nature of science to grow?" — then it involves the definition of the term "science," the conception of science, etc., on which I think that it would be seriously mistaken to take the views of a science historian as presumptively prevailing over those of a scientist. What one person calls "bad science," another calls "not science at all," and so on, so arguments can end up being about not even the same thing. For example, Feynman in the second quote doesn't seem to intend a historical summary, but still he might (for all I know) assert that all science in a healthy condition does grow and might add that when he speaks of science per se, he generally means science embodied as it should be, science in a healthy condition, etc. But again (as far as I can tell), the wiki was quoting him not as an authority, but instead as a prominent 20th-Century example in terms of his idea of science. The Tetrast (talk) 21:14, 23 October 2011 (UTC).
Without commenting on the Feynman quote, I would like to suggest that discussing quotes should be deferred to after there is agreement on the content. A quote can have several uses in an article, such as illustrating one of multiple points of view, or providing a concise assessment of the state of affairs, but I think we should first agree on what points of view need illustrating and what the consensus state of affairs is. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 02:22, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree here - we could go round and round in circles on quotes so maybe best to defer on them. Casliber (talk · contribs) 19:38, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

Edit request from , 23 October 2011

Resolved: "science"
Extended content

OH GREAT AND KNOWLEDGEABLE LORDS OF WIKIPEDIA! I--unworthy as I am--humbly submit for your consideration that double quotation-marks be placed around the word 'science' in the following sentence, to be found (as Your Graces surely already know) in the third paragraph of this otherwise entirely flawless entry:

In modern use, science is a term which more often refers to a way of pursuing knowledge keeping with Thine previously (and Wisely) established practice of using double quotation-marks to distinguish use from mention.

Very respectfully up yours, etc., etc.,

The Futon Child

wikipedia is dead (talk) 05:34, 23 October 2011 (UTC)

I, myself a lowly Regular Editor, have made good on your request, but only after consulting with the Masters of Style (MoS) and the Use–Mention Distinction WikiProject. WP:USEMENTION would have been helpful, but was recently deleted on the grounds that talking about the use of the "use–mention distinction", and distinguishing between use and mention, as opposed to "use" and "mention", would be a pointless endeavor for all but the top 1% of Wikipedians by I.Q. Sincerely, Riggr Mortis (talk) 06:43, 23 October 2011 (UTC)


I've created an initial proposal for an article structure at Talk:Science/Outline, by taking the existing article structure and reordering some of the sections. This is intended as a starting point; I don't imagine the version we finally arrive at will resemble it very much. It isn't even my own idea of a good solution. Anybody who wants to should feel free to modify it in any way that seems desirable. If somebody does something that you don't like, don't worry about it too much -- we are just brainstorming here: this is just a convenient way for people to express their thoughts without overloading the talk page.

My main reason for taking this approach is that in my experience when editors try to deal with such large-scale issues as this, the talk page quickly becomes so large that it is impossible to follow its evolution. I am hoping that having a more structured way to express our ideas will be helpful. Looie496 (talk) 05:44, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

  • I moved some sections around, it is hard to introduce the scientific method without history and philosophy coming first due to the 20th century criticisms of true knowledge generation from philosophical and sociological stand points. This also better reflects the close unity between history and philosophy of science studies (ie: the HQRS literature). Fifelfoo (talk) 07:14, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
    • Looks good. I think this is going to work best if someone does something like this as we can otherwise talk in circles. Casliber (talk · contribs) 19:45, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Comment: Revised outline looks great! danielkueh (talk) 20:00, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

  • Added Technology to society section, added scientific revolution by implication to history, expanded history per History of Science. Fifelfoo (talk) 00:13, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Shouldn't these draft pages be mentioned somewhere in the banner of this talk page for the time being?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 10:10, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

Outline done?

Is the outline for this article (discussion here) ready to go? There have been four people declaring themselves satisfied with it on the discussion page, and no objections so far. The next step seems to me to be either agreeing on the sources to be used for each section, or, if the editor taking the plunge is already knowledgeable enough to do so, start writing it, perhaps in a sandbox. Fifelfoo, Looie496, are you up for a stab? Or should we talk sources next? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 21:45, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

I would prefer to do sourcing for the History section for a couple of weeks before writing. Fifelfoo (talk) 06:11, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
Okay, I've closed both for the time being so we can refocus and begin looking at content and sourcing. Now to figure out who wants to do what....Casliber (talk · contribs) 07:44, 27 October 2011 (UTC)


I've (mostly) rejigged according to the outline for this article but some sections are empty and some need to be rejigged still. Anyone is welcome to continue. Casliber (talk · contribs) 09:35, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

Edit request from , 7 November 2011

Extended content

I would like to make a section pointing out a certain fallacy concerning science, also on the scientific method page.

Skelletor (talk) 05:40, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

Can you be a little more specific? Casliber (talk · contribs) 08:51, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Not done Provide more details and request the edit again. CTJF83 17:58, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

More on philosophy

I am trying to counter possible overdevelopment on the history side; thus my agenda is to raise possible avenues on the philosophy side for science. For example, we could insert

--Ancheta Wis (talk) 17:37, 9 November 2011 (UTC)

In terms of balance, sounds good. Page is only 78kb so still got room to add. I'll have a read-through and copyedit in a day or two and see how we go. Casliber (talk · contribs) 00:22, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

Template issues

I noticed Ancheta Wis having trouble with those templates. My experience is that if you just use the generic {{citation}} then harvard templates work fine in order to create the correct links.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 11:38, 10 November 2011 (UTC)

Andrew, thank you for the suggestion. I incorporated it in the Lindberg reference above. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 13:25, 11 November 2011 (UTC)
In line with a suggestion that you made on the lede effort that we worked on, I finally found a short definition of positivism: R. G. Collingwood (1946, a posthumous book edited by T.M. Knox) The Idea of History Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-500205-9 p.126: "Positivism may be defined as philosophy acting in the service of natural science, as in the Middle Ages philosophy acted in the service of theology." ---Ancheta Wis (talk) 13:39, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

Ego and competition

Physicist Evelyn Fox Keller argues that science may suffer for its manly stereotypes when ego and competitiveness obstruct progress, since these tendencies prevent collaboration and sharing of information.

Wouldn't also be fair to say that "ego and competitiveness" are hugely important as motivators in science; that without them progress would slow to a crawl? I think the above opinion needs to cover both points of view in order to be balanced. Regards, RJH (talk) 18:46, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

I'd agree and extend to say that a science needs to have science-related themes or spirits of
—dynamism of conflict, competition, rivalry, debate,
—harmony of cooperation and tolerance,
—vibrancy of shared values (valuational) community (modified by The Tetrast (talk) 16:09, 25 October 2011 (UTC)), and
—integrity of supports, checks, and balances.
While dynamism-vs.-harmony is sometimes cast as a male-female gender-role thing, it's not at all clear to me how vibrant shared values and integrity of checks and balances align with stereotypes of gender roles — if they don't align with gender roles, that may be an added good reason to note them along with dynamism and harmony. Well, I have a guess as to how James Joyce would align them, if one allows for his ironies, but maybe that's better for a Joyce page! Anyway I have to throw my hands up in the air as to how (in terms of gender roles or otherwise) to handle those themes succinctly enough for such a brief section, or find any comprehensive accounts to cite. The Tetrast (talk) 20:07, 21 October 2011 (UTC).
Extended content
RJH, reading between the lines, I think it is pretty clear that the contributors to this article improvement effort need to establish a protocol for acknowledging some hierarchy in the contributions. The default presumption is that each of the section headers can have a set of contributors who can add to the section without holding up the parade. Perhaps there might be a venue for the digressions from the goal of article improvement. Perhaps each contributor might write, and a consensus might decide where to place each contribution, in some retrievable, repeatable location (say, perhaps as a diff between URIs), so that each contributor can still feel valued.
For example, some of the editors might take the role of administering the size of this talk page. As an example of such administration, there was a consensus that the lede be left for last; since I transgressed that consensus by changing a citation in the lede, that might be a reason to move that citation elsewhere, say, for example, to the outline, as its fate. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 23:07, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
Comment. The new addition is interesting. But I still don't see how it relates to women and science. Further elaboration may be necessary or the new added text may be misplaced. danielkueh (talk) 23:39, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
Concur with danielkuehl. Does the cited neurobiologist Jacobson discuss competitiveness as accompanying the ego? If so, then it should be mentioned in order to make the contrast with Keller clearer. The Tetrast (talk) 16:09, 25 October 2011 (UTC).
Perhaps the substitle should be changed from "Women in science" to "Practitioners in science." Otherwise, a new subcategory should be created if this section is to expand, which I don't think it will. danielkueh (talk) 22:18, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── See the contrast between the advice of Watson 2007 and that of Emmy Noether (as recounted in Srinivasan & Sally 1983), the former, competitive, the latter, cooperative. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 18:44, 24 November 2011 (UTC)

To all editors

@Ancheta Wis, have you finished adding what you wanted to add? You want someone to copyedit/post queries/nitpick now? Cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 19:49, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
There is no end to the possibilities. Please feel free to edit away. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 21:25, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
I see that there is a criterion that appears to be governing the question. Apparently, any activity makes an article unstable. However, there is a contravening note which allows constructive article improvement. I wonder which situation applies. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 00:45, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
@Ancheta's last points, this article hasn't been nominated yet, so no worries re stability. It's probably at about 80% of the maximum size we'd want the article to be, hmmm. Let me have a read, especially of what's been added and I'll jot some ideas below. Casliber (talk · contribs) 10:03, 20 November 2011 (UTC)

To all editors: Casliber was kind enough to invite us in on the fun, which I second. Please feel free to add value to this article. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 21:25, 16 November 2011 (UTC)

If there is a period of inactivity, it appears that good faith edits are allowed, in the interest of advancing the article. I'll guess that several days to a week of inactivity re-opens the window to further editing. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 00:45, 18 November 2011 (UTC)
While I'm looking at this, we can give Fifelfoo and Looie a heads up that the history section is up for whatever they wanted to do with it. After this, the best thing is to take stock and folks to suggest what needs more or less detail, and adding and subtracting and see if we have a fair consensus on content and comprehensiveness, before nagging some copyeditors (and while we're copyediting, folks need to keep an eye on material as staying faithful to the source it comes from). Casliber (talk · contribs) 10:18, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
PS: The sections added/expanded look pretty good and straddle the readability/exact meaning line pretty well. I couldn't see much to tweak at all. Casliber (talk · contribs) 03:28, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Is the Measurement section what we had in mind when it was proposed? I had a thought that it is a tad specific for the article (??) - should be in physics maybe? Casliber (talk · contribs) 10:25, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
    The idea of measurement dates back at least to the Chaldeans, who used astronomical data for magical reasons. They are mentioned in The Book of Daniel. Astronomy is the oldest science by far. To jam it in the physics article is to put a modern spin on the idea & begs the question of intersubjectivity. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 11:56, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
aah ok, that's cool. point taken. Casliber (talk · contribs) 03:28, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

Possible sources

I'm going to list here some general sources that I personally own copies of, in the hope that this might help refocus things somewhat. They are mainly history of science, but one covers philosophy of science as well. If others add what they have, or have access to, or think should be used, or shouldn't be used, please add them here. What I'm trying to get is a list of the sources best placed to give a general overview, to help guide the article and make sure it doesn't end up unbalanced and focused too much on one area at the expense of other areas. It might help to put this on a subpage if it gets too large. Carcharoth (talk) 01:01, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

Starting with 4 references as of 20 Oct 2011, up to today, 02:16, 12 December 2011 (UTC) with 33 references, so far. The history entries are the major submittal.

General sources


  • Bowler, Peter J.; Pickstone, John V. (2009), The Cambridge History of Science: Modern Life and Earth Sciences, 6, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521572019 
  • Conniff, Richard (2011), The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth, W.W. Norton, ISBN 9780393068542 
  • de Kruif, Paul (1926), Microbe Hunters, ISBN 9780156002622 
  • Fara, Patricia (2009), Science : a four thousand year history, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-922689-4  pp.53-54
  • Science: A History 1543-2001 (2002) by John Gribbin
  • Hart, Roger (2011), The Chinese Roots of Linear Algebra, Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN 9780801897559 
  • Huff, Toby E. (2011), Intellectual Curiosity and the Scientific Revolution: A Global Perspective, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9781107000827 
  • Lindberg, David C. (1992), The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, 600 B.C. to A.D. 1450, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0-226-48231-6 
  • Lindberg, David C.; Shank, Michael H. (in press), The Cambridge History of Science: Medieval Science, 2, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521594486  Check date values in: |date= (help) not yet published, expected May 2012. There is a 2008 title by Lindberg alone.
  • Needham, Joseph (1954), Science and Civilisation in China: Introductory Orientations, 1, Cambridge University Press 
  • Needham, Joseph; Ho, Ping-Yü; Lu, Gwei-Djen (1976), Science and Civilisation in China: Chemistry and Chemical Technology, Part III: Spagyrical Technology and Invention, Historical Survey, from Cinnabar Elixirs to Synthetic Insulin, 5.3, Cambridge University Press 
  • Neugebauer, Otto (1952), The Exact Sciences in Antiquity, Princeton: Princeton University Press . 2nd edition, Brown University Press, 1957; reprint, New York: Dover publications, 1969. ISBN 978-0486223322
  • Nye, Mary Jo (2002), The Cambridge History of Science: The Modern Physical and Mathematical Sciences, 5, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521571995 
  • Park, Katharine; Daston, Lorraine (2006), The Cambridge History of Science: Early Modern Science, 3, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521572446 
  • Porter, Roy (2003), The Cambridge History of Science: Eighteenth-Century Science, 4, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521572436 
  • Porter, Theodore M.; Ross, Dorothy (2003), The Cambridge History of Science: The Modern Social Sciences, 7, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521594421 
  • Robson, Eleanor (2008), Mathematics in Ancient Iraq, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-09182-2 


Introductory texts

  • Worldviews - An Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Science (2004) by Richard DeWitt
  • Arthur Koestler (1960) The Watershed: a biography of Johannes Kepler Doubleday Anchor Books. Part of The Science Study Series originated at MIT. An extract from Koestler's The Sleepwalkers, intended for young people. P.45 shows a diagram which Kepler drew July 9, 1595 in one of his classes. The diagram was his inspiration for Mysterium Cosmographicum, a model of the solar system built from the Platonic solids
  • Peierls, R. E. (1956), The Laws of Nature, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, p. 284 
  • Singer, Charles (1959), A Short History of Scientific Ideas, Clarendon Press, p. 525 .
  • Strickland, Sidney, Ph.D.; Strickland, Eliza (2006), The Illustrated Timeline of Science: a crash course in words and pictures, New York: Sterling Publishing, p. 119, ISBN 1-4027-3604-5 . Four parts, totalling 402 entries and 72 sidebars; the entries are threaded by the timeline; generally, each entry has an accompanying picture. Sometimes an entry has commentary, contained in a sidebar. Sometimes a sidebar lists a major theme, such as Scientific revolution. Each entry is color-coded by continent; if some entry is international or is not confined to a single continent, the color code is black. A general introduction with separate introductions to the 4 parts:
    1. ) 2.4 Million years ago to 1514: 83 entries, 15 sidebars. Approximately 30 of these entries are applied science or technological inventions, including the earliest contributions, such as the domestication of fire.
    2. ) 1515-1859: 100 entries, 16 sidebars. Seventeen of these entries are technological contributions.
    3. ) 1859-1944: 93 entries, 18 sidebars. Fifteen entries, including the atomic bomb, are technological.
    4. ) 1945-2006: 127 entries, 23 sidebars. Forty-three entries, including the computer, cloning, the Great Green Wall, and the transistor are technology or applied science.
    Thus, approximately a quarter of the entries are technology or applied science, including the earliest contributions starting from 2.4 million years ago, from our hominid ancestors. Photo credits include Wikipedia Commons.
    Page 3: "In questions of science, the authority of thousands is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual." —Galileo.

Specific topics

  • God's Philosophers - How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science (2009) by James Hannam
  • Bossut, John (1803), A General History of Mathematics From The Earliest Times To The Middle Of The Eighteenth Century (1803), London, St. John's Square, Clerkenwell: J. Johnson, St. Paul's Churchyard, p. 543, ISBN 054883153X . Translated from French by John Bonnycastle (1803). Bossut was "member of the French National Institute of Arts and Sciences, and of the Academies of Bologna, Petersburg, Turin, etc." as quoted from the title page. Printer is Bye and Law. Reprinted by Kessinger Publishing. Pages 542-543 are a table of 'mathematicians', sorted by century -- early, middle, and later parts, dating back to 900 B.C., and ending in 1765. The term 'scientist' had not yet been invented. Only 312 names are listed.
  • Pólya, George (1945), How to Solve It, Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-08097-6 . A mathematical vade mecum
  • Lakatos, Imre (1976), Proofs and Refutations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-29038-4  & ISBN 978-0521290388. John Worrall & Elie Zahar were the editors of this posthumous book, which is a mathematical discussion in an imaginary classroom; the pupils are denoted by Greek letters; Teacher is un-named. They are all mathematicians, each of whom Lakatos views as imperfect personifications of Mathematics. Lakatos builds on the Euler characteristic which is discussed in several of Pólya's books. Unlike Galileo's Two New Sciences, in which Galileo sometimes speaks in his own voice, Lakatos is pupil Lambda, whose search for certainty compels him to work on boring problems, and which blinds him to the interesting ones. In Galileo's book, the named speakers represent a Copernicanist, an intelligent layman, and an Aristotelian/Ptolemaist; in Lakatos' book, the pupils represent various philosophical schools, such as formalists or authoritarians. Lakatos' and Teacher's sympathies lie with the informalists, who seek to learn or teach, respectively.
  • Davis, Philip J.; Hersh, Reuben (1981), The Mathematical Experience, Birkhauser, p. 440, ISBN 3-7643-3018-X . Introduction by Gian-Carlo Rota. The authors are mathematicians, and discuss Lakatos and Polya in this collection of essays, which touch the foundations of mathematics.
  • Shing-Tung Yau and Steve Nadis (2010) The Shape of Inner Space: String Theory and the geometry of the universe's hidden dimensions. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-02023-2 Yau is a differential geometer, of Calabi-Yau manifold fame. P.95: "If two manifolds have different Chern classes, they cannot be the same." (The converse does not hold.) The first Chern class is the Euler characteristic, which Euler discovered by study of the Platonic solids.
  • Ulam, Stanisław (1983), Adventures of a Mathematician, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons  (autobiography).
  • Srinivasan, Bhama; Sally, Judith, editors (1983), Emmy Noether in Bryn Mawr: Proceedings of a symposium sponsored by the Association for women in mathematics, in honor of Emmy Noether's 100th birthday, Springer-Verlag, ISBN 0-387-90838-2  Biographical information on Noether's life can be found on pp.133-137 "Emmy Noether in Erlangen and Göttingen", and on pp.139-146 "Emmy Noether in Bryn Mawr".

  • Watson, James (2007), Avoid Boring People: (lessons from a life in science), p. 353, ISBN 978-0-375-41284-4 . Watson gives quite earnest advice to ambitious people contemplating a career in science: Who, What, Where, When, How, etc.
  • Schrödinger, Erwin (1944), What Is Life?, Cambridge University Press . Introduces negative entropy. Both Watson & Crick read this before their DNA effort.
  • Welker, Robert Henry (1975), Natural Man: The Life of William Beebe, Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, ISBN 978-0-253-33975-1  A biography of an American naturalist, mentioned by Ann Zwinger, "A world of infinite variety" pp.24-34, part of Daniel Halpern and Dan Frank, eds. (1996), The Nature Reader, Harper Collins, ISBN 0-88001-554-3, 351pp. Zwinger p.32 quotes Welker: "A naturalist studies nothing less than the living world, perhaps out of love for it; and for such a man or woman, where is there a meaningful place?". [One possible answer can be: in a community of his or her peers, and their readers.]
  • Singer, Charles (1957), A Short History of Anatomy and Physiology from the Greeks to Harvey, Dover . 209pp. 20 plates, 270 illustrations. Corrected reprint of 1925 edition of The Evolution of Anatomy. "[A]natomical advance was at a standstill until nearly the end of the fifteenth century." —p.88


Clearly the above is only a starting point. The Gribbin and Fara works will be useful, but there are other works out there that will need to be used as well (for example, Simon Schaffer and Steven Shapin). The DeWitt work looks to be aimed at university students starting an HPS course. The Hannam work has good footnotes and a good bibliography, but is more a popular history work (and is narrower in scope) and hence is probably better used for more detailed articles (probably only of use here for suggesting works to consult). Rather than try and locate all of the most useful sources, it might be best to pick three or four that will be good enough, and then get stuck in there, and then refine as needed from that point. But I'm reluctant to do that until some of the discussions have settled down a bit and there is more clarity about how to approach this article (mainly how to avoid excessively duplicating material already present elsewhere). But when things are settled on exactly what needs doing here, I'll be happy to help with references from these books if needed. Carcharoth (talk) 01:01, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

One of the authors I cited has an article in Italian Wikipedia but not in Any ideas on the authorlink for the {{ Citation }} ? --Ancheta Wis (talk) 13:03, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
Added one per the SBHarris contribution. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 03:50, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
Added several more titles. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 12:51, 18 November 2011 (UTC), and 16:12, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
The selection of Cambridge University Press, general History of Science titles, newer than 1999 yielded additionally

But I was surprised by the sparseness of the titles, so I added

  • Conniff 2011, for those who enjoy natural history
  • de Kruif 1926. This is a classic written like a detective story
  • Hart 2011 I am comfortable with because Needham mentions the strength of Chinese mathematics in this area.
  • Robson 2008. Mesopotamian mathembatics

I must confess that I would have been happy with titles which are "old classics". But in defense of a selection criterion for newer books, the timeline book Strickland & Strickland 2006 indeed has thumbnail descriptions of Scientific revolution, etc. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 21:32, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

Additional topic

I admit you have to be a physicist or electrical engineer to get this, but it is a very important topic: negative entropy. I was not aware that this was an esoteric topic because I grew up with it, but very few people in the encyclopedia seem to know it. I believe it should be in the article. It ranks in importance with false vacuum, but I agree that false vacuum should not be in the article.

I would like to work in negative entropy (also called information) into the article. OK? --Ancheta Wis (talk) 06:39, 20 November 2011 (UTC)

You sure it's not too specialised? It's been elided too....09:57, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
To elide means to omit. You meant another verb, which unfortunately doesn't yet exist, but which we now need in the hyperlinked world. (I refrain from editing the above contribution. ;-) --Ancheta Wis (talk) 12:10, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
I was thinking about its use in Ancient Greek with disappearing syllables, which has happened with "negentropy". :) Casliber (talk · contribs) 03:26, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
The article on negative entropy neglects a crucial point (by only implying it): negative entropy can be measured in bits. That is surely a statement that readers on the web can relate to, and that the topic came about from a consideration of life by a scientist ( Erwin Schrödinger, an imperfect personification of Science — to paraphrase Lakatos). The backstory: Nobel laureate becomes disgusted with quantum mechanics, and retreats to write a book about biology, which inspires two younger scientists to do work which is then recognized by a Nobel prize itself. His book parenthetically lets two others (an engineer and a mathematician) show the relationship of life (an agent of negative entropy) to information. To me, that is a perfect illustration of the consilience of science. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 12:33, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
I would rather wait and see what you add before offering an opinion, but it does sound too specific for a core article such as this. Can you outline the kind of material you think should be added? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:39, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── OK, here is a possible context:

Thomas Jefferson (1813) Letter to Isaac McPherson "That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement, or exclusive appropriation." Quoted in Steven Johnson (2008), The Invention of Air p.xiii (citation p.241 credits Lawrence Lessig for this Jefferson quotation), a book on the influence of Joseph Priestley on the Founding Fathers of the United States

Thales: everything is made of water.
Pythagoras: everything is made of numbers (calculi)
Democritus: atomic hypothesis
Aristotle: nature, logic
Stoics: everything is made of matter, shaped by fire (as in a metal forge)
Matter and Energy
Conservation of mass
Conservation of energy
Conservation of charge
Conservation of momentum
Stefan Boltzmann
Entropy is not conserved
Information (Negative entropy)
Computing, Programming, Open source
A network of networks - the Internet
Movement from single source of authority to Crowdsourcing

It is a proposal. Nothing is set in stone. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 23:13, 22 November 2011 (UTC)

Looking at the proposed outline, I can see some of these topics fitting in the history of science or possibly philosophy sections, but covering all of these does seem too detailed for me. However, perhaps we should wait for a substantive discussion. If the next step is to agree on a reasonable set of sources, which I believe is Fifelfoo's goal, then we are still a couple of steps from debating content. Perhaps when Fifelfoo posts his suggested bibliography you could suggest additional works if needed that would support this material. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:02, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Interesting. I wonder how big the article'd be if we included all this......Casliber (talk · contribs) 13:25, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Ancheta, I applaud your intentions but like the rest, I am not sure if all that information is necessary in a general article on science. My two cents. danielkueh (talk) 14:10, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Thank you all for the responses. The statement of ideas need not take a lot of space. But since there is a space (memory) budget, it serves to identify just how much to allocate to ea. topic. The history of an etymology ought not to trump a compact statement explaining "why science creates reliable knowledge". I look forward to the citations. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 16:58, 23 November 2011 (UTC)

AW, I think that for this very broad article we need to treat the history using the big themes which connect science between the ages, and trying to identify the most crucial turning points. Indeed, let's not forget that what we already have is already an incomplete effort at this. Here is something for discussion:-

  • Pre-philosophical science. No obvious beginning point. Involves basic knowledge and reasoning, but also linked to the same mythologies which people used to explain their laws and traditions.
  • Philosophical science. The Pre-Socratic philosophers, who later Greek philosophers often referred to as Physicists (nature studiers). Introduction of the concept "nature", as in "the nature of a dog", and the natural versus conventional distinction, the "way" that things are which is not chosen by humans (or human-like entities).
  • Socratic science. Socrates controversially turned philosophy to the study of human nature, the realm of mythology and tradition, and is executed. Aristotle creates a less controversial systematic programme of study which is basically teleological, and human-centred. For example: the sun goes around the earth, and many things have it as part of their nature that they are for humans. Each thing has a formal and final cause and a role in the rational cosmic order.
  • [I think we have to miss Hellenistic science, because it is basically a continuation of earlier themes and it dies out. It can be mentioned in passing in one of the two prior sections, that pre-socratic style physics continued to some extent after Socrates.]
  • Medieval science. Continues the Aristotelian programme, in a way compatible with monotheism, initially mainly Islamic, but increasingly European towards the end of the middle ages. Relatively dogmatic and static, despite some notable exceptions.
  • The Renaissance and the origins of the modern programme. Several key turning points occur, initially mainly in Italy, and partly inspired by the recovery of old Greek texts: the Aristotelian corpus is shown to be wrong about the solar system by Copernicus, then argued to be wrong even about politics by Machiavelli, who blames the corruption of the medieval Catholic church upon it. Galileo uses mathematics and experiment to demonstrate more problems with medieval belief, and is persecuted. Bacon and Descartes then argue in print for a new science: Bacon arguing for a non-teleological science based upon experiment, and Descartes arguing for mathematical science.
  • Newton and Leibniz. Successfully develop such a new physics integrated with a new mathematics. Leibniz also incorporates terms from Aristotelian physics, but now being used in a new way, for example "energy" and "potential".

For the continuation, perhaps others can propose. Obviously key moments obviously include evolution, electromagnetic radiation, relativity and quantum physics. I would suggest that things like the internet are not history as such but something for another part of the article?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 09:07, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

Thank you for coming to the rescue. That was 'heavy lifting'. You are showing us that it is possible for knowledgeable editors to crisply state broad themes to the rest of us. Now, if each of us could simply contribute their broad knowledge, citations, and sub-links to other summary articles, it should be possible to make additional progress in the months ahead. For example, to continue in the same vein, see below: --Ancheta Wis (talk) 10:07, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Laws of Nature Using hypothetical statements in the form of mathematical expressions, Newton, Huygens, the Bernoulli brothers, and other mathematicians (for the term 'scientist' had not yet been formulated --Bossut 1803) produce a series of rational statements for their peers.
  • Scientific communities By publishing articles, and by writing letters to each other, communities of like-minded researchers, who could understand each other's statements, began to build upon each other's work.
  • Crisis and resolution In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, large bodies of knowledge had crystallized (Peierls 1956). Some of the posited laws of nature were shown to be not universal laws, but applied to a specific domain, such as for macroscopic bodies moving at speeds far below the speed of light. This was the situation, for example, for Newton's laws. It was shown that the posited laws could be understood as models of nature, with specific domains of applicability.
I think those three points fit into the scheme I sketched so far, rather than forming new points. Some discussion:-
  • The "laws of nature" idea arises from Bacon I think. Before him, Aristotelians always tried to find the laws of the nature of each type of thing, or each form of thing, so there is a human nature and rocks have a nature and so on. Bacon was the one who specifically argued that the real "forms" science should study are simple and general properties like heat.
  • Scientific communities. I think this developed in several ways. Printing and other historical things helped anyway. But as a deliberate idea, such as the idea of academies, public debate, open collections of facts, is again something one finds in Bacon. Consider "New Atlantis".
  • Crisis and resolution, as a kind of pattern for how science would evolve once it had been re-founded, so lets say after Newton and Leibniz, I wonder if there is any one particular turning point we can point at or whether consciousness of the inevitability of such crises simply built up gradually. Obviously modern science has such a crisis at the beginning, with Copernicus, but the fact that modern science itself will have them, and the question of whether they are inevitable, is possibly still more of an issue for philosophy than science as such. Not something that scientists think about every day.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 10:30, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

[edit conflict with immediately following post] Let's try to structure ideas in a way we can add to or subtract from. I noticed that my inclusion of Machiavelli in the grand themes is not likely to survive if we are being strict:-

Pre-philosophical science Logical knowledge acquisition, but combined with traditional and mythological knowledge.
Philosophical science The Pre-Socratic philosophers, who later Greek philosophers often referred to as Physicists (nature studiers). Introduction of the concept "nature", as in "the nature of a dog", and the natural versus conventional distinction, the "way" that things are which is not chosen by humans (or human-like entities). Such science continued during the Hellenistic period.
Socratic science
  • Socrates controversially turned philosophy to the study of human things, including human nature, the earlier realm of mythology and tradition, and is executed. He criticized the older type of study of physics as too speculative.
  • Aristotle creates a less controversial systematic programme of Socratic philosophy, which is teleological, and human-centred. For example: the sun goes around the earth, and many things have it as part of their nature that they are for humans. Each thing has a formal cause and final cause and a role in the rational cosmic order. Motion and change is described as the actualization of potentials already in things, according to what types of things they are.
Medieval science Continues the Aristotelian or "Scholastic" programme, in a way compatible with monotheism, initially mainly Islamic, but increasingly a Western European synthesis of Catholicism and Aristotelianism towards the end of the middle ages. Relatively dogmatic and static, despite some notable exceptions (al-Kindi, Roger Bacon etc).
The Renaissance and the origins of the modern programme Several key turning points occur, initially mainly in Italy, and partly inspired by the recovery of old Greek texts:
  • 15th century. The Aristotelian corpus is shown to be wrong about the solar system by Copernicus.
  • 17th century. Galileo uses mathematics and experiment to demonstrate more problems with medieval physics, and is persecuted in Italy. In northern Europe, printing of works critical of medieval thinking flourishes, and Bacon and Descartes argue for a new science: Bacon arguing for a non-teleological science based upon experiment, and Descartes arguing for mathematical science. Bacon specifically argues that philosophy and science should be dedicated not to speculation, but to improving the lives of all people.
Newton and Leibniz 18th century. Successfully developed such a new physics integrated with a new mathematics. Leibniz also incorporates terms from Aristotelian physics, but now being used in a new non-teleological way, for example "energy" and "potential". This in the style of Bacon, assuming that different types of things all work according to the same laws of nature, with no special formal or final causes for each type of thing.
19th century.
  • Darwin succeeds to explain the differences in types of even living things without requiring formal or final causes, causing new controversy about modern science.
  • Confirmation of the existance of atoms by Dalton
  • Thermodynamics and electromagnetic theory raised new questions which could not be easily answered using Newton's framework.
Relativity and Quantum physics 20th century. Newtonian physics is fundamentally revised, leading to a new physics which contains two parts, that are not yet full incorporated.
Good. Then the three points are subtopics. It immediately makes me ask, 'how is it that this vision of science held up over such an extended period?'. Feynman believed we are in a crisis in theoretical physics right now. The ball is currently in the experimentalist's court, and the viewpoint of Peirls 1956 is retrospectively OK, but incorrect/incomplete as Laws of Nature for the future. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 10:51, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
Your question contains debateable assumptions in itself. Has there been one vision of science which has held up un-changing? To the extent that there has been one possible controversial answer is obvious: it is just progress, and the ideas which work survive. But I think not everyone agrees. Is this however a question which we need to answer in order to describe science?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 10:59, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
I have made a kind of draft, expanding out those notes, just to see what it might look like. I have put it on my Sandbox for now, but if others think this is worth working on maybe we should move it to a draft page for this article?--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 13:58, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
Andrew Lancaster, while the article has been quiescent because we are waiting for a major bibliographical contribution, perhaps we might be able to re-start the wiki action. Perhaps we might move the etymology section to a separate article, and replace the saved space with your new proposed history section. That might very well encourage other editors to attach additional citations to the history section. Strickland & Strickland 2006 briefly list hundreds of scientific ideas which vary in form over time, as our understanding progresses during several million years on the globe. Of course they mention the Greek embrace of inquiry, as well as the other ideas in your panorama of science, above. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 16:12, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
Feel free. My draft can be more sourced, of course, but the aim was to show a structure of discussion which was chronological in structure, based on your notes above, so I see reason why not to propose putting it in. (I only sourced the things I thought people might question.) OTOH, I am not sure we should fully delete reference to etymology yet. Maybe something can be salvaged in a small sub-section, at least for the time being. I do think that the history of the terms helps explain what science is, and how it developed. But separating discussion of this out from the history itself makes sense.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 09:32, 10 December 2011 (UTC)

It's all gone quiet...

Hmmm, Looie and Fifelfoo, the page has gone quiet - as you were the ones who identified content to work on/add, have at it. It might give this article a little momentum...cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 13:59, 6 November 2011 (UTC)

I'll bibliographise in the next fourtnight to twentyonenight. Fifelfoo (talk) 09:14, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Yippee! Now where is Louie....sorry, this is a bit like council workers doing street repairs really, but I reckon if the two of you just go for it and see how it develops, then we can take stock. Might be the most orderly way....heheheCasliber (talk · contribs) 10:40, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
The environment got too noisy for me to follow discussions. I've been drawn into other things, will see if I can get back to this at some point. Looie496 (talk) 15:01, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
It's quiet now, so the stage is all yours (and Fifelfoo's) - 2-3 folks getting stuck in is an optimal number. Casliber (talk · contribs) 20:07, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Preliminary report: History of Science has a vast literature, and for this level of article it is vital to focus on tertiary sources: field reviews in scholarly journal and introductions; textbooks aimed at post-graduates is the ideal, though under-graduates are acceptable. Part of this is to do with the vigorous historiographical debate in the History of Science, which goes into minutae. History of Science is geographically divided prior to the Renaissance, and then focuses on Western Science. The presence of competing critical historiographies (particularly in the field of meaning and explanation) means that we need to be very careful when presenting a narrative of the history of science. The "currency" in the field appears to be thirty to forty years; if we focus on works published after 1999 we will be generally embodying the most recent work. The core explanatory concept used in history of science for the current period is "technoscience"—we need to introduce readers rapidly but gently to similar structures of thought (scientific "revolution", paradigm, etc.) without dumping them into the lap of Kuhn, Lakatos, Feyerabend. There is an excellent Cambridge series in ongoing publication, but it is huge and based around expert chapters. We ought to focus on the introductions and generalist opinions in these works, though relying on geographic area summaries and "fringe" practice summaries in the history of science. And keeping it fast, small and readable. Much of the "history of science" overlaps with "philosophy of science," and more importantly, there is a moderate overlap in history of contemporary science with much of the rest of the article (science practice; science in society). Oh, and the scope presented in histories of science includes the social sciences _and_ notes fringe practices as relevant "non-sciences" to science. Fifelfoo (talk) 03:54, 24 November 2011 (UTC)
So erm...a bit of light reading and chuck in a few lines then eh? No worries, she'll be right, mate ;) Casliber (talk · contribs) 10:01, 24 November 2011 (UTC)
I hope it will be possible, once Fifelfoo posts a draft bibliography, for other editors with less relevant background (such as myself) to be able to go and read some subset of them so that we can contribute to discussions about content and assist with integrating the material at a level a little higher than copyediting. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:30, 24 November 2011 (UTC)
Mike Christie, there are some resources available to you instantly:
  • Watson 2007 recounts how he learned the basics of good science from C. S. Peirce. See for example, Peirce (1878) "How to Make Our Ideas Clear", as well as "The Fixation of Belief". Watson's boyhood joy in natural history he got from bird-watching with his father.
    Watson and Crick discovered the macromolecular structure of DNA. They were inspired by Erwin Schrödinger (1944) What is Life.
    Peirce might well be denoted the American Prometheus.
  • Ulam 1983 recommends Poincaré, Henri (1905), Science and Hypothesis  Eprint
    Ulam was a contributor to the Manhattan Project, along with dozens of others at the Nobel laureate level. He conceived the first successful iteration of the design of the hydrogen bomb, in the process of proving that Edward Teller's design would fail to achieve autocatalytic action.
  • Srinivasan & Sally 1983 documents how Emmy Noether, at age 18, finally distinguished herself from her peers by deciding to enter Erlangen, and later, Gottingen University. Pages 133-182 show various facets of her personal and professional life, including a method for attacking the problems of her field (e.g. p.142, which is to constantly shift perspective, according to Ruth S. McKee), which she taught to her students. The testimony of her students distinctly demonstrates the differences in approach between her group, and a male-dominated one. It is instructive to contrast this with the advice given by Watson 2007.
    Emmy Noether proved the conservation of mass, energy, charge, and other constants of motion.
  • Joseph Needham, Science and Civilisation in China (SCC) multiple volumes written over a lifetime, might not be so easy for you to get. Apparently there are fewer than 5 sets of SCC available in my state of 5 million residents. But if you can get to a set, just open one volume and prepare to be overwhelmed by good scholarship. Needham spent a lifetime pursuing a counterfactual question (according to Fara 2009, pp. 53-4). Therefore his null hypothesis was falsified, and China has had science all along.
    Any one of Needham's volumes would have been a respectable life's work, for a typical historian.
--Ancheta Wis (talk) 18:30, 24 November 2011 (UTC) I just added notes in italics to state some broader significance of the sources, for the benefit of casual readers. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 13:25, 26 November 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Casliber, is there anything the rest of us might be able to contribute to the article during this period? Any suggestions? --Ancheta Wis (talk) 16:12, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Aargh, I was waiting for Fifelfoo, but nevermind. I guess deciding what are the top priorities of missing bits WRT history of science and outlining why below. If you and Fifelfoo and maybe some other folks do that it'd be a big step in the right direction (do yours equal those above or were you just identifying some easily accessible ones?). I am not familiar with much in the area at all. Casliber (talk · contribs) 13:03, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
Andrew Lancaster, in a section below, has outlined a reasonable start for the section on history of science. I have been adding citations on this talk page which are topical responses to the issues raised during the discussion. Fifelfoo's preliminary sketch lists explicit publishers, but not titles. If we were to take Looie496's position on expertise (which is if you are expert enough, go ahead and jump in) then I propose that we simply list reasonable titles from the Cambridge and Oxford series as a start. I have studied the Needham series on Science and Civilisation in China (Cambridge University Press), for example, and I am sure that other editors can list what they believe to be good sources.
On the talk page above, there is a Galileo quote from Strickland & Strickland 2006, p. 3 which I believe justifies Looie496's position on expertise. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 15:47, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

Mike Christie, Jacques Barzun's critique (that scientists appear to be driven by faith) I believe is outmoded. Perhaps in your investigative readings you might find evidence among the writings of the most recent authors in history of science for a move beyond this ideology. Max Born (1949), Natural Philosophy of Cause and Chance, wrote that scientists base their beliefs in induction (pp 6,7,14,46,64,84), which Born admits is based on faith. However, Born also states (p.7) that scientific practice has a rule of craft, or code which has proven successful. This craft has another basis, that of abduction, which C. S. Peirce has written about. Might this move away from induction interest you for your readings? This move is not only philosophical: the newest version of the Haskell programming language has banned induction from its patterns. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 12:24, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

I think it is an eternal and almost inevitable discussion that induction relies on a "faith", but it is a "faith" in what has worked in the past. So it is a kind of rational faith, and not really what everyone means by faith. I think the locus classicus for discussion of this is Hume, whose philosophy is certainly still widely cited as relevant, and not out-moded. It can probably be mentioned at least in passing, within the philosophy section, because it is a common topic, but I think it does not require long discussion because it is essentially just a word-meaning issue. (There is also a more complex type of faith in most science, or maybe it is a more metaphysical way of describing the other one, which is the belief in "laws of nature". But for modern science, laws of nature are not much more than simply things which happened the same in the past and future.) --Andrew Lancaster (talk) 13:45, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
Andrew, based on your response, and on the notes in Talk:Science/Archive 5, I propose, for the proxy bibliography:
  • Russell, Paul (2008). The Riddle of Hume's Treatise: Skepticism, Naturalism and Irreligion New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press.
It appears that the sections Science#Science and society might now be addressed, perhaps with Hume as a starting point. Next task: find this title in the library. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 13:14, 23 December 2011 (UTC)
Let me note that saying induction is a faith based on what has worked in the past basically means using induction to justify induction. That was Hume's fundamental point: that there is no way of formally justifying induction without using inductive reasoning. Looie496 (talk) 16:46, 23 December 2011 (UTC)

re:the first picture

Does that picture have anything to do with the experimental sciences?ScienceGeek (talk) 17:29, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

Science, as exemplified by the voyages beyond the pillars of Hercules.
There are a lot of choices available aren't there:
  1. the frontispiece to Novum Organum showing the ships sailing beyond the pillars of Hercules
  2. Archimedes
  3. Hubble space telescope

--Ancheta Wis (talk) 18:05, 11 December 2011 (UTC) Note: the lede image was then switched on 20 December 2011. --Ancheta Wis (talk)

scientific practice section

There is good information here, but the introductory part of this section could possibly be rewritten to flow better, and be clearer. Also the section on measurement doesn't explain how measurement relates to the practice of science; other parts of the article do, but perhaps it should be expressed here too... --Oceans and oceans (talk) 05:02, 1 February 2012 (UTC)

Be bold. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 09:41, 1 February 2012 (UTC)
 :) thanks, might do some time... --Oceans and oceans (talk) 10:09, 1 February 2012 (UTC)

Puzzling item in todo list

Does anyone know why "achieve consistency with other science related pages of Wikipedia" is in the todo list? Are there some specific inconsistencies that inspired someone to add this task? RockMagnetist (talk) 16:56, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

Rewrite of the last sections

The sections under Science & society, and also under Critiques, mix two aspects:

1: Users of science, versus creators of science

2: Contents of science, versus applications of science

  • There are historical examples of women creators of science or technology, some dating back several millennia but they have not been publicized very well.
  • Science policy can be helpful for the progress of science, or detrimental. Only policy can shape the goal, whether to help or hinder. For example, the current papers to create an aerosol form of Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 are the active target of government policy.
  • The applications of science can trump economics, and eventually affect social and economic institutions for good or ill, the atomic bomb and the internet being obvious examples. But humble examples, such as public hygiene, or Semmelweiss' injunction to doctors, that they wash their hands after autopsies, can trump economics and markets as well.
  • Public support for popular segments of science can lead to funding, but funding mechanisms for science need not be popular; they have been policy-based, for example. Military funding of science has existed at least since Archimedes. This ought to be mentioned.
  • The section on Politicization of science is outdated, and reads as an obscure fact right now
  • There is no mention of the time of separation of magical thinking from scientific thinking, which historically occurred after the witch trials in the 1600s, or of any current examples of magical thinking (this is controversial, of course).

If there is a space budget for the article, we could push for content rather than commentary about science. If there is not space for content, the current items in this section might be placed in the respective main articles, to save space.

Would any editors object if we started to add the contents of those sections which are commentary about science to their respective main articles, in the interest of saving space in this article?

Comments? Ancheta Wis (talk) 13:14, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

Hi Ancheta, I am not sure if I follow. Based on your proposal, I'm assuming you want to add content but save space at the same time, presumably by removing text from other sections? Cheers. danielkueh (talk) 19:32, 1 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes; I am trying to address a concern that more content will make the article too long. We can address that concern by rewriting, and by pushing commentary about science to other articles. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 22:06, 1 January 2012 (UTC)
Sounds reasonable. danielkueh (talk) 22:11, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Now that the list of possible sources has been archived, here is the Science bibliography that was assembled by several editors. The archive also contains the rationale for the selection of the sources. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 17:35, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

It appears that some editors are removing content for lack of citations. In 1600 Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for his cosmology, and there is no lack of citations for this. These are very old controversies, e.g. Andrew Dickson White (1896), History of the warfare between science and theology in Christendom. Admittedly it has taken centuries for some religious institutions to shift their position. Is it worthwhile taking up space for this social / education problem? --Ancheta Wis (talk) 14:15, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

History of science section errors

I am chiming in to note that some of the sections here in the history of science are incorrect and do not provide citations. In particular the one that I see much trouble with is the "Renaissance, and early modern science" section. Whoever wrote this made many incorrect assertions. For example Copernicus work did not prove the heliocentric system was correct for it was a model and was a theoretical work in the spirits of the Almagest. Also there is an error in the description that does not mention Ptolemy who gave the geocentric model its rigor and made it a mathematical science that predicted well the movements of heavenly bodies. Also where are the executions the Catholic Church made about Copernicans? No citations for this claim are made. Even Copernicus dedicated his heliocentric work to Pope Paul III. See . There is another error in that "Bacon" is cited as Roger Bacon, but the one who proposed a New Organon was Francis Bacon. Aristotle's method was called the Organon. Also Descartes and Bacon were not the first with Galileo to marry mathematics and the study of nature. Plato was a proponent of such unity and so was Aristotle and Medieval scientists like Roger Bacon were all proponents of applying math to nature. Ptolemy's work and the fact that astronomers used it for a millenia show that mathematics were used to predict movements of natural objects. The field of "optics" works with the marrying of mathematics and physics. In Aristotle's thoughts in "Posterior Analytics" certainly shows how mathematics apply to fields of the sciences, but he did mention that certain fields were not locked in or sealed off by mathematics alone. (On the Applicability of Mathematics to Nature: Roger Bacon and His Predecessors. David C. Lindberg. The British Journal for the History of Science. Vol. 15, No. 1 (Mar., 1982), pp. 3-25). Also the term "atheistic" as describing the inductive sciences is incorrect since the mechanical perspective was seen as worldly or "secular" and the mechanical view of was held by Newton and even in the Middle Ages the mechanical analogy via a clock was used by Nicole Oresme (Edward Grant. A History of Natural Philosophy: From the Ancient World to the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge University Press. P. 284.) The fact that theists used this mentality renders this statement false. What can we do to correct all of these problems? Ramos1990 (talk) 19:14, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

Be bold? danielkueh (talk) 21:03, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
I propose that the judicious use of {{cn}}, {{disputed}}, etc be employed:
Ramos1990, What matters is that we talk through the exposition of any issues that you see. As part of the community of editors, we can use this talk page to improve the article. So if we might work on the disputed sections, sentence by sentence, I believe that we will reach consensus on the article. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 22:04, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

To start, I am reluctant to invoke the execution of Giordano Bruno in 1600. The issue of executions in the name of preserving State authority just invites a whole cycle of bad faith edits. It didn't work for the ancient Greeks, it didn't work 400 years ago, and it didn't work for the Qin dynasty 2200 years ago. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 22:04, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

I have taken a few small steps in the direction suggested by Ramos1990. Not sure how (or whether) to include mention of Aristotle in the Copernican shift away from the Ptolemaic model. For now, I have removed "the Catholic Church executed people who publicly argued the truth of Copernicus' earlier findings"; that may warrant some discussion. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 23:21, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
It's part of the move toward conceptual simplicity and away from reliance on authority. This has been part of modern scientific training, starting with teachers in the universities, like Newton's professor at Cambridge. That is not to say that religion did not affect science; Newton was a secret monotheist, which was anathema at Christian Cambridge. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 23:34, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for the support here. Some of the changes are a good improvement. I think we can do a lot if we take things little by little. On the issue of the printing press used to print challenges to church dogma is pretty much slanted. This phrase should be removed since printing was simply made to print anything and this included things that supported and contradicted certain ideas that church officials dealt with. Emphasizing that printing was used to challenge the Church is very ignorant since Aristotle's works were seen throughout the medieval period to be problematic with the Catholic Church. For example, Aristotle believed in a god who was impersonal , but also believed that the universe was eternal (which contradicts the origin of the universe and earth and God's nature in Christendom) but this did not stop medieval scientists from using and printing copies of his works. They used his works often as a guide to their research. Another issues is with the "atheistic" label for the "new" science. Who argued this? Any citations for it? From reading Newton's "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy", Francis Bacon's scientific method in "New Organon", Copernicus' "On the Revolutions", Galileo's "Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences" and other works, like those from Leibniz or Boyle's "Sceptical Chemist", from this period, none of these argued that science (Natural Philosophy) was "atheistic" nor did they treat science (Natural Philosophy) as supporting atheism in any given sense.

In fact Francis Bacon stated in the essay "Of Atheism" : "And therefore, God never wrought miracle, to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it. It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion. For while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them, confederate and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity." If anything they treated information from the revised scientific methods as part of a natural mechanical world that was secular and universal, not atheistic. In many of the history entries in this article I see the Conflict thesis in much of the entries on this article which has been debunked often. The core issue is that no citations are provided for many of the exaggerated claims at all. What do you guys think?Ramos1990 (talk) 01:42, 11 March 2012 (UTC)

Ramos1990, please cite page numbers for the titles. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 02:27, 11 March 2012 (UTC)

Which ones are you referring to specifically? Is it concerning science as "atheistic"? If so, as I recall, none of these mentioned science (Natural Philosophy) as being either "theistic" or "atheistic" since they did not need to argue such issues in their scientific works as this was irrelevant to the aims of these works. This is why I am puzzled at the claim on the article which has no citations on this. However, these men did infer God in these works and as result they indirectly denied atheism. Simple examples are the last paragraphs of book 3 for Newton's "Principia" and Copernicus' preface in "On the Revolutions" to Pope Paul III. The only one of the ones mentioned that "may" have something on the sciences with respect a theistic nature or atheistic nature would be the New Organon. Advancement of the sciences fulfills Biblical prophecy from the Book of Daniel [Divine Providence] (XCIII) ( But I think this would be stretching it. Throughout the work and elsewhere Bacon does not assert that the sciences are an "atheistic" or a "theistic" enterprise, but he treated it like the others did - as simply a universal mundane enterprise for acquiring knowledge from nature. If science was seen as "atheistic" you would have prohibitions from the church on all research, but this never occurred from the time of the early Church to today. Only a few theories were seen to have some decent skepticism and resistance - which is the norm in all fields of the sciences which introduce novel theories that reshape basic assumptions. For Francis Bacon's essay above its (Francis Bacon. The Major Works (Oxford World Classics). Oxford University Press. 2002. p. 371). Otherwise can you clarify your request? By the way here is a good website on the issue during the time period in question and beyond ( Ramos1990 (talk) 07:00, 11 March 2012 (UTC)

Math and natural science

While it is true that Aristotle proposes some mathematical relationships for natural laws, all of his proposals seem to be the standard geometrical ones which (when translated into algebraic formulae) come out more or less linear equations. What happens starting with Vincenzo Galilei, the father of the physicist, is the realization that the algebraic relations that describe nature can be non-linear (with square roots and so on), and furthermore the suspicion that perhaps any law of nature can be described by some algebraic formula. That is approximately the point in history at which Galileo Galilei, with his quadratic-time formula for motion enter natural science, not very long after Kepler with his non-circular geometry of planetary motion. Almost immediately comes Descartes' 1637 Discourse on Method and works on analytic geometry to make it plain that all any natural laws (even geometric ones) could be described in algebraic equations. THEN the world is ready for Newton. So what was changed right about then (late 16th, early 17th century) is not the idea that some math and some natural science can go together (this is old), but rather a larger faith that ALL natural science consists of laws that ALL can be represented by some kind of algebraic relation. SBHarris 19:32, 11 March 2012 (UTC)

Yes, does it make sense to include these kinds of relationships between the scientists in the article? Galileo's 1623 polemic The Assayer clearly stated his vision of the role of mathematics as the language of science, and influenced the continent. Isaac Barrow's lectures on geometry and optics found at least one memorable student in Isaac Newton, who assisted Barrow in his writeup, Lectiones Opticae et Geometricae. Barrow is responsible for the fundamental theorem of calculus, which makes claims that Newton (and Leibniz) invented calculus overly simple, doesn't it. In fact, it is difficult to read translations of Barrow's lectures, without reading calculus into the theorems. I have a book by one translator who out-and-out claims infinitesmal calculus is due to Barrow, but this is probably revisionist history. But Barrow had an effect. Leibniz bought Barrow's book in 1673, and claimed he was independent of Barrow. At the very least, he 'stood on Barrow's shoulders'. Do you think we should probably rewrite the sections of the article which might make overly broad claims about Newton and Leibniz? --Ancheta Wis (talk) 15:23, 12 March 2012 (UTC)


Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. NO NO NO NO

Science is the systematic process of observation, experiment and inference on physical phenomenon. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:19, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

  • Not only "testable" but "repeatable" should be added to the first sentence. I don't have priviledge to make changes to this article. Independent verifiability and validation is the heart of testability. -- (talk) 03:38, 2 June 2012 (UTC)


The close of the introduction is slightly confusing. It currently reads:

  • Over the course of the 19th century, the word "science" became increasingly associated with scientific method, a disciplined way to study the natural world, including physics, chemistry, geology and biology. It is in the 19th century also that the term scientist was created by the naturalist-theologian William Whewell to distinguish those who sought knowledge on nature from those who sought knowledge on other disciplines. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the origin of the word "scientist" to 1834. This sometimes left the study of human thought and society in a linguistic limbo, which was resolved by classifying these areas of academic study as social science. Similarly, several other major areas of disciplined study and knowledge exist today under the general rubric of "science", such as formal science and applied science.

The passage I have italicized breaks the discussion of the narrowing of the term science; when the paragraph returns to the theme, the article this is ambiguous. I'm not sure how to resolve it; one possibility would be to move the discussion of the term scientist to the close of the passage, e.g.:

  • Over the course of the 19th century, the word "science" became increasingly associated with scientific method, a disciplined way to study the natural world, including physics, chemistry, geology and biology. This narrowing of meaning sometimes left the study of human thought and society in a linguistic limbo, which was resolved by classifying these areas of academic study as social science. Similarly, several other major areas of disciplined study and knowledge exist today under the general rubric of "science", such as formal science and applied science. It was in the 19th century also that the term scientist was created by the naturalist-theologian William Whewell to distinguish those who sought knowledge on nature from those who sought knowledge on other disciplines. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the origin of the word "scientist" to 1834.

I'm not completely satisfied with this solution. Any ideas? hgilbert (talk) 09:02, 2 June 2012 (UTC)

  • Over the course of the 19th century, the study of science became increasingly professionalized[11] and specialized; the term scientist was created to describe these specialists;[12] the word "science" became increasingly associated with scientific method, a disciplined way to study the natural world, including physics, chemistry, geology and biology. This narrowing of meaning sometimes left the study of human thought and society in a linguistic limbo, which was resolved by classifying these areas of academic study as social science. Similarly, several other major areas of disciplined study and knowledge exist today under the general rubric of "science", such as formal science and applied science.
  1. ^ Popper, Karl (1983). "Preface, On the non-existence of scientific method". Realism and the Aim of Science (1st edition ed.). Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield. 
  2. ^ Karl Popper: Objective Knowledge (1972)
  3. ^ Karl R. Popper: The Poverty of Historicism
  4. ^ The poverty of historicism, section 27, footnote 1
  5. ^ Popper, Karl (2002). "On The Sources of Knowledge and of Ignorance". Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge. Routledge. ISBN 0061313769. , section XIII
  6. ^ William W. Bartley: Rationality, Criticism, and Logic. Philosophia 11:1–2 (1982), section XXIII
  7. ^ Logic of Scientific Discovery, Sec.69 Fn.*2
  8. ^ Objective Knowledge, Chap.2 Fn.9
  9. ^ Newton-Smith, W. H. (1994). The Rationality of Science. London: Routledge. p. 30. ISBN 0710009135. 
  10. ^ Brugger, E. Christian (2004). "Casebeer, William D. Natural Ethical Facts: Evolution, Connectionism, and Moral Cognition". The Review of Metaphysics. 58 (2). 
  11. ^ Stipends were increasingly awarded for specific scientists, such as to Caroline Herschel for astronomical work, in the eighteenth century. Other forms of funding were the grants of land and equipment for observatories, and the selection of projects of exploration, such as for the mapping of landforms and sea currents.
  12. ^ The term scientist was created by the naturalist-theologian William Whewell to distinguish those who sought knowledge on nature from those who sought knowledge on other disciplines. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the origin of the word "scientist" to 1834.
Here is another version which shifts the emphasis slightly. This version conveys more of the expectations of the practitioners over the course of the nineteenth century. There is still an underlying current of naturalism for the natural sciences. The guiding themes for social, formal, and applied sciences are left unstated. --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 11:56, 2 June 2012 (UTC)
Your proposed opening, "the study of science became increasingly professionalized", presupposes that very narrowing of the term science to natural science that the original paragraph sought to describe. It would be clearer if the original opening sentence were preserved, with a possible passage about professionalization perhaps following later. In addition, we should provide a reference supporting the characterization and dating of this professionalization. hgilbert (talk) 13:31, 2 June 2012 (UTC)
The process of specialization had multiple threads, all occurring simultaneously.
  1. The professionalization was a new development. Before funding by others, only those with the time to think and write could do science, first as amateurs, then as professionals. One thousand years ago, it took men of leisure to write about science, first for themselves, then to others, and currently to the general populace. It takes time to think about science, as well as money.
  2. A scientific method arose only as systematic thinkers were able to reflect on what it took to do science (e.g., One thousand years ago, Alhazen's reaction to Ptolemy's theories of planetary motion, to theories of vision, etc.). Francisco Sanches (1581) used his training in medicine to critique Aristotle and the scholastics. Bacon's reaction to Aristotle and the scholastics was that there had to be a better way. Descartes followed up on Sanches' critique. Newton (1687) took the teachings of 'the Ancients' as the beginning point for his Rules of Reasoning. In the nineteenth c., Whewell's version of method was simply that of mathematical technique; Mill's version was a reaction to Whewell's claims; Jevon's simple three-step statement of method was not published till 1874 or so.
  3. When Whewell coined his term 'scientist', he unified previously separate researchers.
There ought to be a statement that it is the reseachers, and not a method, that create scientific results. As they worked, they clarified what science is and is not. It took centuries to separate science from magic, for example. --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 14:19, 2 June 2012 (UTC)

Science "as" The Scientific Method

One small comment here is that we must avoid in this article the dogmatic assurance that modern natural science (as well as some other sciences) are all dependent on a single unified method that we can write down and always use. A number of sociologists like Popper but especially Feyerabend have made a case [2] that there is no single "method" that all scientists use all the time. That is, "science" hasn't yet been reduced completely to a science. ;). And why should it be? After all, the logical problem of induction has not been solved. There is no "method" for doing induction and getting the conclusion right, or even most likely right, in the face of x amount of limited data. Therefore, there CANNOT be an agreed complete "method" for doing science, since (as we know) it all rests on induction anyway, so to claim we have a worked out "method" in the face of that failure, would be to sweep all that under the rug. Which we should not do. Don't rush in to claim encyclopedically that which doesn't yet (and may never) exist.

As an example, one black swan does not disprove that all swans are white. You need a flock of them and a lot of people who see and dissect them, rather like people having to see live platypuses before anybody believed they weren't a sewn-together hoax. See an fluorescent orange swan and you're going to look for the guy who painted it. And you can get many, many reports of neutrinos going faster than light, checked and rechecked at the same institution with different experiments, and you can still suspect some instituional screwup, like a loose cable. (This actually happpend, and people were fired [3]). There is no set of rules on when to abandon a theory. At some point, it simply becomes too ugly to be believed, or perhaps it is abandoned only when there is a prettier one tempting you away, like a trophy wife when you make too much money. Or a new generation of scientists must arise and the old one go, ala Planck's suggestion that science progresses funeral-by-funeral. In the real world these decisions are not made mathematically, but with inputs from aesthetics, wisdom, sociological factors, Baysian reasoning with inputs that aren't completely definable, and so on. And that's going to continue. Read The Trouble With Physics with the wacky tale about how string theory, at first, could not get its foot in the door, and now, OTHER ideas cannot get their foot in the door-- and all this change without any experimental data! If "science" is our name for that enterprise that what working "scientists" are engaged in (and what else could it be?), then all this must be kept in mind as we write a "true" encyclopedia. SBHarris 18:12, 2 June 2012 (UTC)

Hey Sbharris, I see your points on this. However, can you please clarify for others here what you you feel needs to be done with the article? Do you want to rewrite a few sections, for example? I agree that there are many dimensions, approaches, and methods to the sciences (natural and social). Serendipity and speculation are important contributors, for example. A simple reading of a grip of research papers should show how diverse scientists are and how diverse their methodologies are at reaching conclusions in the natural and social sciences.Ramos1990 (talk) 08:04, 3 June 2012 (UTC)

Doing any thing in Scientific Manner; Way is termed as "the Scientific Method" (talk) 18:09, 12 June 2012 (UTC)drpssinha04@gmail.com117.199.23.206 (talk) 18:09, 12 June 2012 (UTC)