The philosophy of falsification from Karl Popper:
Science and knowledge can never ‘confirm’ something as truth/truthful, but can only FALSIFY things as being untrue.
1.Black swans do not exist.
Once upon a time it was thought that only white swans existed in the world. In this time, if you told a scientist or nature person:
“Do black swans exist?”
They would say “NO”. We have saw 1 trillion swans in the wild, and we have never witnessed a black swan. Thus, black swans don’t exist.
But a few hundred years later, we finally see a black swan. Now the scientists go:
Of course it is obvious that black swans exist!
So this is the point:
The sighting of just 1 black swan has totally FALSIFIED the notion that only white swans exist.
2.Data can never prove anything.
So this becomes interesting to me, because:
Even if you have 10 quadrillion data points showing some sort of correlation, it does not PROVE causation.
For example, let us say the following:
For all the 100+ year old (centenarians) we have studied, they have all ate blueberries. Thus the secret of living over 100+ years old is to eat blueberries (and lots of it).
But this is almost like saying:
Every centenarian we have observed takes a shower everyday. Thus there is a high correlation between taking (daily) showers and long-life.
We get suckered by correlation. There is no statistics which can prove causation.
3. What can prove causation?
Causation can be proved with hard science and logic.
I put a match in a dry bush, and the dry bush envelops with fire.
We can say then the match CAUSED the dry bush to catch on fire.
I put my hand in the fire for 5 seconds. I took out my hand and I feel pain.
Then we can deduct:
The fire CAUSED the pain in your hand.
4. Statistics can never prove anything to the individual.
Let us say we conducted an observational study with 1 billion asian people, and all 1 billion of those asian people were good at math. Can we then infer:
If you are Asian, you are good at math.
It can take one person (myself) to disconfirm that thesis.
You only need ONE person to disconfirm any theory.
5. Racist statistics?
Or another thing:
We have observed that there are very few Asian people in the NBA. Thus, Asian men are genetically inferior to African-American men in terms of physical ability and strength.
We have observed that the majority of crime in America is from African-American men. Thus African-American men are more likely to commit crime in America.
This is a huge problem. This is what causes racial profiling in cops. And this is my thought:
The individual is more essential than the average.
Cops should NOT racially profile, even if it does make society ‘safer’.
For example, let us say I was an African-American male. I am college-educated from UCLA, and an entrepreneur. I would fucking hate it if I got pulled over simply because I was African-American. Even this one hypothetical case should outlaw racial profiling.
6. What are we trying to do with science and statistics anyways?
Karl Popper has great ideas [source PDF]
- It is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory — if we look for confirmations.
- Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions; that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in question, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory — an event which would have refuted the theory.
- Every “good” scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things to happen. The more a theory forbids, the better it is.
- A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue of a theory (as people often think) but a vice.
- Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or to refute it. Testability is falsifiability; but there are degrees of testability: some theories are more testable, more exposed to refutation, than others; they take, as it were, greater risks.
- Confirming evidence should not count except when it is the result of a genuine test of the theory; and this means that it can be presented as a serious but unsuccessful attempt to falsify the theory. (I now speak in such cases of “corroborating evidence.”)
- Some genuinely testable theories, when found to be false, are still upheld by their admirers — for example by introducing ad hoc some auxiliary assumption, or by reinterpreting the theory ad hoc in such a way that it escapes refutation. Such a procedure is always possible, but it rescues the theory from refutation only at the price of destroying, or at least lowering, its scientific status. (I later described such a rescuing operation as a “conventionalist twist” or a “conventionalist stratagem.”)
I think science and statistics should only be used to FALSIFY or DISPROVE nonsense.
7. Beware of irrefutable and non-testable things
BE INSANELY SKEPTICAL. Very very very very very skeptical of almost everything.
Why? The more skeptical you are, the less likely you are to get suckered. And this is what wisdom is:
Wisdom is the knowledge to DECREASE your chances of getting suckered by others or reality.
8. Test yourself
For myself, I have zero interest in studying others. I am more interested in studying and testing myself. For example, some tests: