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Luckmeister
2009-Sep-22, 07:23 PM
Belief can be a substitute for truth,
and fantasy can be a substitute for truth.
Imagination can lead to discovering new truths.
Imagination can also lead to fantasy.
When using imagination, truth and fantasy often get mixed together,
and belief can be the result.
Science separates truth from fantasy,
and knowledge is the result.

But there's a problem with defining "belief." It has become a dirty word to scientists, largely due to its association with religion generally and ID specifically. Scientific belief is very different from religious belief. All quests for scientific proof have started with belief. A hypothesis is a statement of belief. The problem with belief is when one accepts a resulting theory as the best model to date without the required working examples and maths as validation.

But even when a theory has become the standard model, one can still say they believe that standard model is correct or not, because all theoretical science is a work in progress and only the basic laws of physics and individual practical applications of scientific knowledge can be considered truth. The rest must remain open to scientific attack and possible revision.

The problem is when "believe" is used as a synonym for "know." When a scientist says "I believe that..." he/she is saying "I'm confident a proof can be found that..." Perhaps, in that context, a different (maybe new) word could be used to avoid the confusion of meaning.

Your thoughts on this?

Mike

orionjim
2009-Sep-22, 10:03 PM
I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Deming speak on multiple occasions and he used the term “degree of belief” when trying to make predictions about a system.

If you Google "degree of belief" +deming you will find references.

Also search for analytic and enumerative statistics, the difference between the two is analytic depends on confidence intervals and probabilities where enumerative depends on "degree of belief". And unfortunately you can't calculate it. The problem is how do you increase your degree of belief? That is the focus of enumerative statistics.

Jim

Middenrat
2009-Sep-23, 12:36 AM
Agree, Luckmeister, belief is a semantically loaded hot potato.
In the case of scientific pronouncements the word understand may be successfully substituted, I believe.
D'oh!

Luckmeister
2009-Sep-23, 12:49 AM
I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Deming speak on multiple occasions and he used the term “degree of belief” when trying to make predictions about a system.

If you Google "degree of belief" +deming you will find references.

Also search for analytic and enumerative statistics, the difference between the two is analytic depends on confidence intervals and probabilities where enumerative depends on "degree of belief". And unfortunately you can't calculate it. The problem is how do you increase your degree of belief? That is the focus of enumerative statistics.

Jim

Thanks for the Google suggestion. Yes "degree of belief" is an attempt to both qualify and quantify the term. I look at statistical analysis as an art as well as a science.

In a college introductory statistics course, the first thing I learned was how easy it is to misrepresent conclusions through biased statistical analysis. That was an important building block in the development of my skeptical nature. Every time I hear that a statistical study supports an idea or premise, my first question is, "Who funded the study?" Then, if I have sufficient interest in the subject, I want to know the parameters of the study. Since that can entail some detailed research, most people will either accept or reject the findings on face value based on their bias. That's why lying with statistics is so easy.

And that's why we keep hearing contradictory results on the news about things like dietary studies. The results are often either funded by or cherry-picked by the ones making money from the sales it will generate.

In-house statistical studies are usually much more reliable. The studies are used towards a common goal of efficiency or focus.

Mike

Luckmeister
2009-Sep-23, 12:55 AM
Agree, Luckmeister, belief is a semantically loaded hot potato.
In the case of scientific pronouncements the word understand may be successfully substituted, I believe.
D'oh!

Yes, I understand that "understand" could be understood as an alternative to "believe." :shifty:

Mike

Neverfly
2009-Sep-23, 01:09 AM
Yes, I understand that "understand" could be understood as an alternative to "believe." :shifty:

Mike

I had faith that you would.

Luckmeister
2009-Sep-23, 01:17 AM
I had faith that you would.

Oh thank "goodness" -- Whatever that is. :think:

Luckmeister
2009-Sep-23, 03:02 AM
I'm watching a Science Channel right now hosted by Michio Kaku. He stated that almost all physicists now "believe" that string theory is the answer to the "theory of everything." He then said that they "believe" that the required extra dimensions do exist. I guess if the term is good enough for Dr. Kaku, I won't try to replace it. :)

I had the definite pleasure of carrying on a personal email debate with him a few years ago that spanned several days. I gained a strong respect for him during that exchange.

Mike

SolusLupus
2009-Sep-23, 03:12 AM
String Theory is pretty much a subject that requires belief. There's little supporting evidence available to us currently, but I do believe that the LHC might change that.

Don't quote me on that, though.

SolusLupus
2009-Sep-23, 03:13 AM
Don't quote me on that, though.

Got to the obvious joke before anyone else could.

Gruesome
2009-Sep-23, 03:13 AM
Your thoughts on this?

Mike

Information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, wisdom is not truth, truth is not beauty, beauty is not love, love is not music and music is the best." — Frank Zappa

QED.

Phamph
2009-Sep-23, 05:43 PM
The confusion and mystery surrounding the simple word 'belief' seems to only afflict people who have closley interwined 'non belief' with their identity.

Disinfo Agent
2009-Sep-23, 08:03 PM
Here's a previous discussion: Is Science Faith-Based? (http://www.bautforum.com/bad-astronomy-stories/70532-science-faith-based.html)