What does it take to put forward a rebuttal to an quantitative theoretical model?

I claim in this post: What does it take for an quantitative theoretical model to be reliable? that a quantitative theoretical model will have to fulfill a set of criteria to be reliable. Consequently an alternative theory will have to fulfill the same criteria. So – let´s say that the main theory is that increasing CO2 level in the atmosphere is causing global warming and the alternative theory is that varying output from the sun is causing a variation of the average tropospheric temperature. Both theories will be subject to the same criteria:

  • The theory is about a causal relations between quantities that can be measured
  • The measurands are well defined
  • The measurands can be quantified
  • The uncertainty of the measurands has been determined by statistical and / or quantitative analysis
  • The functional relationships, the mechanisms, has been explained in a plausible manner
  • The functional relationships, the mechanisms, has been expressed in mathematical terms
  • The functional relationships between variables and parameters has been combined into a model.
  • The influencing variables which have significant effect on the accuracy of the model are identified
  • The model has been demonstrated to consistently predict outputs within stated uncertainties
  • The model has been demonstrated to consistently predict outputs without significant systematic errors
  • The model has been tested by an independent party on conditions it has not been adjusted to match

A rebuttal of an quantitative theoretical model will have to:

  • Identify at least one significant deficiency of the model with regards to the criteria above, or
  • Demonstrate observations that are significant, reliable and inconsistent with the theoretical model

In addition, it is worth observing principles for putting forward good arguments. Remember – an opinion is an unsupported claim; an argument is a supported claim. An argument should also fulfill some criteria to be regarded as a good argument: (Ref.: “Attacking faulty reasoning” by T. Edward Damer)

“THE STANDARD FORM OF AN ARGUMENT

Once a person has satisfied the burden of producing reasons in support of a claim, we are then in a position to evaluate the quality of his or her argument. The first step in doing so is to reconstruct the argument into what is called a standard form.  A standard format that exhibits the logical structure of an argument is as follows:

Since (premise),
which is a conclusion supported by (subpremise),
and (premise),
which is a conclusion supported by (subpremise),
and (premise),
[and (implicit premise)]
and (rebuttal premise),
Therefore, (conclusion).”

While we remember that the burden of proof for any position usually rests on the participant who sets forth the position, it is also worth remembering that there are many, many known logical fallacies which will render an argument invalid or incomplete.

So I think it is reasonable to say that it is a lot easier to put forward a rebuttal of a quantitative theoretical model than it is to put forward a reliable quantitative theoretical model. But it also takes a whole lot of effort to put forward a valid rebuttal. And even if you do put forward a valid rebuttal you have no guarantee that your opponent agree with your standards.

“No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.”
― Albert Einstein

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One thought on “What does it take to put forward a rebuttal to an quantitative theoretical model?

  1. Pingback: Index – Posts by “Science or Fiction” | Science or fiction?

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