Have you ever heard about critical rationalism?
Critical rationalism can be regarded as the modern scientific method. Commonly known as the hypotetico – deductive method. The method is shortly put:
- 1. Use your experience: Consider the problem and try to make sense of it. Gather data and look for previous explanations. If this is a new problem to you, then move to step 2.
- 2. Form a conjecture (hypothesis): When nothing else is yet known, try to state an explanation, to someone else, or to your notebook.
- 3. Deduce predictions from the hypothesis: if you assume 2 is true, what consequences follow?
- 4. Test (or Experiment): Look for evidence (observations) that conflict with these predictions in order to disprove 2. It is a logical error to seek 3 directly as proof of 2. This formal fallacy is called affirming the consequent.
Note that by this method we can never absolutely verify (prove the truth of) an idea. But we can falsify wrong ideas – we can prove ideas to be wrong.
Further, an idea, hypothesis or theory is corroborated by the severity of the tests it has been exposed to and survived, and not at all by inductive reasoning in favor of it.
This is what Einstein meant when he said:
“No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.”
Richard P. Feynman phrased it like this:
It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are – if it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.
Karl Popper phrased it in this manner:
“what characterizes the empirical method is its manner of exposing to falsification, in every conceivable way, the system to be tested. Its aim is not to save the lives of untenable systems but … exposing them all to the fiercest struggle for survival.”
The first 26 soothing pages of the masterpiece by Karl Popper contains the essence:
The logic of scientific discovery
Critical rationalism stands opposed to Inductivism:
“Believers in inductive logic assume that we arrive at natural laws by generalization from particular observations. If we think of the various results in a series of observations as points plotted in a co-ordinate system, then the graphic representation of the law will be a curve passing through all these points. But through a finite number of points we can always draw an unlimited number of curves of the most diverse form. Since therefore the law is not uniquely determined by the observations, inductive logic is confronted with the problem of deciding which curve, among all these possible curves, is to be chosen.”
Ref: The logic of scientific discovery (Page 123)
Here is a a famous quote in which inductivism is evident:
“What you will see is an accumulation of facts and disturbing patterns of behavior. The facts on Iraqis’ behavior – Iraq’s behavior demonstrate that Saddam Hussein and his regime have made no effort – no effort – to disarm as required by the international community. Indeed, the facts and Iraq’s behavior show that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction.”
(Ref: US secretary of state’s address to the United Nations security council).
As the aftermath showed, there were no weapons of mass destruction. Or to phrase it in the way of critical rationalism: The idea that: “There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq” has been put to an extremely severe test. A test in the form of a war against Iraq. A war in which one of the objectives were to find and destruct weapons of mass destruction. There are still no reliable reports about such weapons. The idea that there were no weapons of mass destruction has therefor been corroborated by the fact that no such usable weapons were found and reported as a result of this war.
United States troops found chemical weapons in Iraq. However, United States did not find what they expected to find, and started a war to put an end to.
“George Bush, in a moment of reflection ahead of his departure from the White House, last night admitted that the decision to go to war against Saddam Hussein on the basis of flawed intelligence was the biggest regret of his presidency.”
There is no doubt that important knowledge was revealed about nature also before Karl Popper described the hypotetico deductive method and made it readily available to us, either by stumbling across important discoveries or even by following the method, without having a full description of it.
There is also no doubt that an immense amount of unknowledge existed at the same time. Some of of this unkowledge has caused great harm or death to people, groups of people, ethnic groups or even humanity. Mistakes based on inductivism could be illustrated by gruesome examples, I will refrain from going down that road.
The great discovery by Karl Popper was a method by which potentially harmful inductive ideas could be falsified, or by which judgement could be suspended while trying to come up with conclusive tests.
The discovery of the hypotetico – deductive method was potentially a great leap for mankind. Suddenly we knew what to do to increase our knowledge about nature in a systematic way – and to get rid of wrong ideas. Unfortunately the hypotetico – deductive method is not taught to every student at every university. Many have heard about the hypotetico deductive method – few live it.
The great discovery by Karl Popper, the hypotetico deductive method, the discovery which might hinder human suffering by harmful unknowledge, can not be taken for granted. Critical rationalism is not something we get for free. We only deserve it if we argue for it. We only get critical rationalism by demanding it.
Hence mankind must object to inductivism and demand critical rationalism. If we don´t demand critical rationalism, we might suffer by inductivism or cause harm by inductivism. If we don´t demand critical rationalism, we might even have to bend over and welcome idiocracy.
United Nations endorse inductivism
In the following I would like the reader to bear in mind that a useful definition of culture can be:
“A culture is a way of perceiving, thinking and acting – which has been learned, developed or discovered by an organization – while learning to deal with its internal and external challenges – and which is being taught to it´s members as the right way of perceiving, thinking and acting.”
Critical rationalism is a way of thinking having the greatest respect for pitfalls in the quest for truth. A way of thinking on which friendly relations can be built. Friendly relations between parties who value truth and knowledge – at least it will have greater success than inductivism. Inductivism on the other hand, is a flawed method, a method which can be regarded as a problem of a cultural character.
It is then time to look at the charter of United Nations.
By its charter United Nations is supposed to:
– To maintain international peace and security…
– To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples …
– To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character,
– To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.
Hence, one thing United Nations should do, within it´s charter, is to be a proponent for critical rationalism and an opponent to inductivism.
It is then a great disappointment to register that United Nations has created an organ called Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC, a body on which United Nations enforced:
– the unscientific principle of a mission (§1)
– the unscientific principle of consensus (§10)
– an approval process and organization principle which must, by it´s nature, diminish dissenting views. (§11)
Ref: Principles governing IPCC work
(More on that here)
It is then time again to turn to Karl Popper again for at take on non-numerical probability statements, The kind of subjective statements United Nations IPPC is relying on so heavily :
“a subjective experience, or a feeling of conviction, can never justify a scientific statement … Can any statement be justified by the fact that someone is utterly convinced of its truth? The answer is, ‘No’; and any other answer would be incompatible with the idea of scientific objectivity. .. one thing must be clear: if we adhere to our demand that scientific statements must be objective, then those statements which belong to the empirical basis of science must also be objective, i.e. inter-subjectively testable. .. there can be no statements in science which cannot be tested, and therefore none which cannot in principle be refuted, by falsifying some of the conclusions which can be deduced from them.”
Ref: The logic of scientific discovery
It is therefore also a disappointment to discover that Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change invented a system of expressing subjective statements, non-numerical probability statements. Statements about degree of agreement, degree of robustness and qualitative level of confidence. These are kind of statements which are incompatible with objective science. Such subjective statements are heavily influencing all the work by IPCC and its working groups.
Guidance Note for Lead Authors of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report on Consistent Treatment of Uncertainties
United Nations has itself become a problem of an international cultural character
Based on the arguments above, the necessary conclusion must be that United Nations IPCC has departed from objective science, departed from critical rationalism and endorsed inductivism. United Nations IPCC has also endorsed subjective statements. Statements which are incompatible with objective science. By the governing documents for IPCC it is clear that United Nations body IPCC is governed by unscientific principles.
United Nations has influence on all nations, and by the definition of culture provided above, it should also be clear that United Nations has created an international problem of a cultural character.
United Nations has created an international problem of a cultural character, an international body pretending to be strictly scientific, while it is obvious from its “Principles governing the work by IPCC” and from “Guidance Note on Consistent Treatment of Uncertainties”, that it is not at all based on robust scientific methods.