Sunday, November 29, 2009

David Deutsch: A new way to explain explanation

David Deutsch speaking at TED in 2005.Image via Wikipedia
David Deutsch TED Oxford July 2009

Karl Popper: All observation is theory laden.  Yeah, I would go with this.  Some theories are in-born.  Some theories - the theories used for everyday observation - span the majority of human individuals.  And there is also variation across individuals, so different people approach observation differently because of different theories of observation.

Scientific theories: tested by observation, not derived from it.

Is it enough to say scientific theories are testable conjectures?  No - because many myths are testable conjectures.  And when they fail the test, the myth-teller provides an ad-hoc correction.
  • Bad explanation - easy variability in details, trivially modified - ad-hoc - after the fact - when disproving facts are discovered - variations in details added by motivated defenders of bad explanation
  • Karl PopperImage via Wikipedia
    Good explanation - assertions about broad range of reality - details hard to vary after the fact - it stands on its own or doesn't, the hardest possible test, to the highest possible standard of explanatory power
David Deutsch believes that the setting of good examples of "Good Explanations" and scientists striving to create more and more Good Explanations is the reason for the staggering forward progress of modern science since Galileo.

TED Blog: A new way to explain explanation: David Deutsch:
For tens of thousands of years our ancestors understood the world through myths, and the pace of change was glacial. The rise of scientific understanding transformed the world within a few centuries

Why? Physicist David Deutsch proposes a subtle answer.(Recorded at TEDGlobal 2009, July 2009, Oxford, UK. Duration: 16:39)
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