In late 2005 a federal judge barred a Pennsylvania public school from teaching "intelligent design" in its biology classes. The trial had taken six weeks and resulted in a resounding win for those who support the teaching of evolution in the classroom. The ruling was a tipping point for many in that debate between evolution and its possible alternatives, a debate that has been raging since before the 1925 Skopes Monkey Trial. Many see this debate as an encapsulation of a battle of cultural values and one that is a key sign of the direction of society as a whole. Indeed, very rarely do tempers flare higher than when questions come up regarding what to teach a nation's children.
[...] For example, electrons are not observable by humans; they are, however, observable by instrumentation, which in turn is observable by humans. The logical positivists held the view that there existed mathematical and logical rules that served to translate the theoretical, i.e. electrons, into the observable. This brought them to the troubling conclusion, however, that electrons are not, in fact, particles that make electron meters read out results, but are rather simple an economical rule to speak about many electron meter readings. [...]
[...] This “scientific confirmation” was exactly what Popper rejected, because it allowed such an unsound practice as infinite justifications from finite observations. Popper realized that something had to fill in the void left by the problem of induction, and his quest led him through pessimistic meta-induction. This states that, because all rejected (i.e. past) theories have been false, it should be assumed that our current and future theories will be false as well. This led to fallibalism, that science should never be definitively convinced of the truth of any theory. [...]
[...] What Popper's criterion allows to be called scientific is open to interpretation; a strict interpretation would concede too little since there are no scientific theories of interest that are completely free of anomalies. Conversely, if only the falsifiability of a theory was considered, and not the willingness of an individual or group to obtain or accept falsifying instances, then almost all theories would be permitted. The problem of demarcation was not solved by Popper, as evidenced by the court ruling in Pennsylvania. [...]
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