Tuesday, November 16, 2010

on (scientific) theory, hypothesis & assumptions

In thinking about our last class, it was intriguing to hear individuals and their groups attempting to operationalize a definition for Scientific Theory, and Scientific Fact. While there was a general class consensus as to what a Theory is, and in turn what constitutes a Fact, there was tremendous variability presented and much debate about where the threshold for Scientific laid. This variability seems analogous to the view and dissemination present in our writings of Darwin and the so-called Darwinists as seen here in this medium.

Truthfully - operational definitions vary from science to science, and there are rarely clear well defined distinctions between the varying levels of 'classical' or 'hard' sciences, like chemistry and physics, and the 'soft' social sciences like sociology, psychology or anthropology. Here the level of analysis is important and debated, set, reset and dynamically decided within each field.

Our group approaches in this class have, it appears to me, followed a similar vein of rationality. What is acceptable fact to our Darwinists, lacks the logical heft for both critics of Darwinists and Logicians themselves. What is damnable evidence regarding the failings of Evolution Theory to explain human culture and development is a misunderstanding of assumptions.

For example, the theory of Evolution by the mechanism of natural selection (including individual, sexual and group methods) makes the assumption that individual development is static, that is, it does not change. This is done to unpackage complexity/variance from the greater variables regarding selection, mutation, and inheritance for instance. What this does not mean is that Natural Selection ignores individual development, but simply that within the given theoretical framework, it is assumed to be constant and therefore not impacting the group of individuals (ie. species development), such that the scientists may look solely at the group level.

Thankfully, with much of the work largely supporting Darwin's theories, these little issues of variance (like individual development) are being pulled from the list of assumptions and (scientifically) tested. It is from here largely accepted and supported 'Theories' are to be called into doubt, and current fields of the 'softer sciences' are bridging into one another. Developing fields of Biopsychology, Evolutionary Psychology particularly are leaving the simplistic adaptationist theories and adopting more holistic systems-theories that allow for bidirectionality in the expression of genomes, phenomes, the environment and personal (individual) experiences.

No comments:

Post a Comment