Error Corrections from last Post:

I wrote,

We seek out criticisms to our guess and look for methods to falsify it. If we falsify the guess then we guess something different and repeat. If we fail to falsify the guess, we accept it but only tentatively.

Correction by Elliot Temple,

In CR, the term “falsify” commonly refers to *empirical* refutation only. To avoid ambiguity and miscommunication, it’s best to avoid the term (alone) entirely, and use “empirically falsify”. And use something else like “criticize” or “refute” to speak generically.

I wrote,

According to Popper, we can disprove a theory but never fully prove it.


You can’t *fully* disprove a theory. Your criticism could be wrong.

Indeed. I will also add that we don’t reject a theory just from 1 failed observation. We must also have a better theory in place. One that explains what the previous theory successfully explained, and accounts for the mismatch in observation.

Refuting an Article on Falsification

I came across this article titled Why Falsificationism is False.

The article gets it wrong on the very first sentence,

Karl Popper famously defended the view, known as falsificationism, that what distinguishes science from non-science is falsifiability.

It appears the author did not use source material (later confirmed when he uses the SEP article on Popper) so his criticisms of Popper are going to be based on misconceptions.

As Elliot Temple pointed out that On Realism and the Aim of Science Popper states,

my views on science (sometimes, but not by me, called ‘falsificationism’)

What Popper defended, and what he called was ‘Critical Rationalism.’ This is the standard name of Popper’s Philosophy.

An Error Occured with Medium and 90% of my Content from this post got removed.

Trying to somehow recover it, for now, I’ll leave up the error corrections. But most of my content is missing.

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UPDATE: Can’t recover what I had written. Next Time I should write in a local file instead. The article I am attempting to refute is so poor that the effort of rewriting the whole thing seems hardly worth it, instead, I’ll highlight more of the misconceptions below.

From the article,

But Popper thought that the problem of induction was insoluble and that we must accept this fact.

This is incorrect. Not only did Popper think this was a solvable problem, but he also solved it! From Objective Knowledge Popper writes,

Of course, I may be mistaken; but I think that I have solved a major philosophical problem: the problem of induction. (I must have reached the solution in 1927 or thereabouts.) (p1)

If it is not clear by now the author has not read Popper. This passage is from Page 1, and the above-mentioned passage on the introductory section.

The rest of the author of the article goes on to restate (without giving credit) The Dunhem-Quine thesis, of which Popper was aware of and dealt with. Logically the thesis states that when an experiment is at odds with a theory, it does not necessarily mean the theory is false, there could be something wrong with the experiment. This is true and Popper agreed. He never said that we reject a theory based on a single experiment or observation.

Given an experimental disagreement with a theory, we can’t know whether a false assumption is the cause, or a mistaken experiment, or the whole theory is to be refuted. Until we have an alternative better explanation. Once we have a better explanation we can understand what is the discrepancy between theory and observation. In the meantime, we keep the current best explanation. (Eg Theory of relativity is our best explanation but will eventually be falsified when a better theory is conjectured).

In short, this article did not show that falsification is false, but it did show the author’s ignorance of Popper.

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