Falsifiable Predictability

This post was inspired by a comment on an ealier post.

Being skeptical comes down to two words, Falsifiable Predictability.

Predictability – I predict that if I stand up from my chair and press that button over there by the door, the light will come on.

Falsifiable – Means doing just that, getting up from the chair and actually testing the theory, pressing that button and seeing if the light comes on.

It become science when your process is tested by others i.e. Peer reviewed.

The question against religion comes down to the question of, what is their prediction and how can I falsify it, i.e. test it. There are a lot of claims in the bible, all I am asking is for one of them to be falsifiable under controlled conditions.

Until that happens, it is all just talk.

Being skeptical is about being ready to put those claims to the test each and every time. Never assume that just because last time I asked a god to smite me and nothing happened does not mean the next time I ask it won’t happen. Being skeptical means continuing testing, always searching but never accepting without Falsifiable Predictable evidence.



9 Responses to “Falsifiable Predictability”

  1. Emm Says:

    Cool. One day I should write down what I believe in and what I would like to believe in with respect to religion.

    The other area we discussed once before was alternative therapies. Like I absolutely believe in the powers of aromatherapy, pressure point massage and reflexology. I believe in them because I have repeatedly made use of them and they have worked for me. I noticed last time I discussed it with you and Graeme that you guys were picking up on some outlandish claims that had been made regarding those practices and that wasn’t how it had been presented to me. I was never told that they could cure or diagnose anything, more a matter of “picking up on” certain things or “helping with” others. I guess the root of that argument was you guys had come across the idiots in life who talk about causation as opposed to correlation.

    Cause and effect is not often possible to ascertain, eve when it comes to medical science.

    For example, we never talk of causation in psychology. We don’t say therapeutic techniques cure you and we don’t say events in your life cause certain effects. When you study psychology, a lot of what you do is read about other people’s clinical trials. All you can ever hope is to display to a certain degree of correlation and hope to exclude other factors. Everything is done on bell curves.

    With my background in psychology, I can certainly appreciate the correlation between the treatments I had and the good effects I experienced. I found they were more helpful as a whole than sessions with a psychologist. I know you lost a friend to dodgy science but I honestly beleive that was dodgy science – people looking for cure and magic as opposed to simply being a positive influence.

  2. themyst Says:

    The Falsifiable Predictability of psychology is that if person A and B and C all have the same issues, using the same method will produce similar results.

    Also one must never ignore the placebo effect when dealing with aromatherapy, pressure point massage and reflexology etc. If I get a massage, I feel great, that does not mean it healed me of anything. The same goes for nice smells.

    For example, if they said every time they press a certain point they heal someone with a heart problem, then we can test that claim. Unfortuneatly every time we do test those claims, nothing happens.

  3. Emm Says:

    Your point about the alternative therapies is good. Once again, I think the difference is in the people who are claiming that they cure anyone of anything. The school to which my friends belonged stated catagorically that they were not healing therapies but contributed to a healthier whole.

    But your point applies equally to psychology. And psychiatry. The same medications and therapies do not produce the same results. Psychiatry is simply trial and error where they put you on one medication after another until you improve. Psychology simply does not fall into the realm of falsifiable predictability. Using one treatment on people of the same issues is not always going to bring the same results. There isn’t even strong evidence that sways the argument in favour of either medication or therapy. Some people can be helped, some people are just sedated so that they are not a danger to themselves or others.

  4. themyst Says:

    “Psychology simply does not fall into the realm of falsifiable predictability.”

    I have heard a lot of other skeptics say the same thing, some even claim that Psychology is not even science, I personally do not have enough knowledge to comment on the issue.

  5. Emm Says:

    Psychological research uses the scientific method, the same method used in medical research, You have to have a representative, randomly selected sample; each study must have a control (or a non-test) group. Subjects must not be told of the nature of the results or the effects which they should feel. Etc etc.

    In all my time of studying research across a couple of fields, I must say I never came across the concept of “falsifiable predictability”.

    In fact, a more likely question posed to us would be “study A got one result and study B got another result, is one of them a better study than the other?” The answer is usually no. In fact, when we got no result in a study (which meant we could not state to a 95 or 99% correction factor that there was a correlation) we had to report that. There are many valid reasons why a study might not show a correlation and if you move from the microcosm to the macrocosm, why one therapy or one medication might bring different reactions in different trials or treatments.

    My first reaction to “other skeptics say the same thing, some even claim that Psychology is not even science” would be to say that perhaps they don’t know enough about proper science or the nature of research to make a statement like that. I too don’t know enough but I think I might investigate it for you. Who knows, perhaps I could contribute an article on the scientific method!

  6. themyst Says:

    I think we are confusing research with claims.

    When a claim is published in a Peer reviewed Journal, it is the final study that is published and how they got there, the final theory if you will.

    It is that final claim that is Falsifiable by the Peers.

    I always hear skeptics use the term Falsifiable and science demands scientist Predict the outcome of their research.

    It is most likely that I may have heard the term “Falsifiable Predictability” somewhere

    for example … “Yes, they count because abiogenesis and the Big Bang are conclusions based on observable, predictable, quantifiable and falsifiable data.” – http://atheistnexus.org/xn/detail/2182797:Comment:312056

    … and it is also possible that I invented the term.

    I did a google search and found hundreds of examples like the one above but never my exact phraseology.

  7. Emm Says:

    But in psychological journals you never find “claims”. You find an article on why a theorist thinks something and they take you through the research they have done to support that. Or, they will note in detail what they studied and how they did it so that others can learn from them and figure out why they did or didn’t get a result.

    You’ll never find something like “XYZ therapy shown to cure autism in Melbourne kids”. It will always be “Promising Melbourne study shows possible link between XYZ therapy and alleviation of symptoms in autisitc children”.

  8. themyst Says:

    So the difference is indeed research as apposed to claims.

  9. Emm Says:

    Yes, that’s why I say that I think the problem with the people you and Graeme were referring to is that they made claims that they couldn’t possibly back up. Immediately, I too would distrust someone who made such claims. Real professionals don’t. Think about it – you never see claims of “proven results” beside real professionals listings. If you did, you wouldn’t trust them.

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