The Instigator
Pro (for)
11 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
1 Points

Scientific theories should require the ability to be falsified.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/7/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,624 times Debate No: 38545
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (19)
Votes (3)




Falsifiability has long been held as a criteria for a validly conceived scientific theory. In this debate I will defend this criteria, and Con will argue that falsifiability is not a necessary criteria for a valid scientific theory.

is defined as

knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation

and a scientific theory is

a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on knowledge that has been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation. Scientists create scientific theories from hypotheses that have been corroborated through the scientific method, then gather evidence to test their accuracy. As with all forms of scientific knowledge, scientific theories are inductive in nature and aim for predictive and explanatory force. ... The strength of a scientific theory is related to the diversity of phenomena it can explain, which is measured by its ability to make falsifiable predictions with respect to those phenomena.

This opening round is for definitions and acceptance only. We agreed to the definitions of science and scientific theory prior to the debate. I will give the Pro case at the start of the second round.

I'm looking forward to a good debate.


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Let me just say, it's an honor to debate with you RoyLatham, Pro hereafter. These are the things we discussed in the comments:

The notion of Falsifiability as a requirement for science is a rather recent suggestion by Karl Popper [
in his 1959 work, "The Logic of Scientific Discovery.” Meanwhile science has arguably been around way longer than the 50's. So falsifiability isn’t as well entrenched as Pro makes out, and it’s certainly up for questioning.

As Pro said, he’ll have to defend that falsifiability is a criteria for a validly conceived scientific theory. In other words,
Pro must defend that it is a necessary condition of scientific hypotheses and theories that they are falsifiable.

Definition: A theory or hypothesis is falsifiable if and only if there exists a logically possible observation statement or set of observation statements that are inconsistent with it.

On the other hand, it is not my burden to show that falsifiability should be removed as a criteria for a valid scientific theory. That is a normative claim and it’s not the logical opposite of Pro’s descriptive claim. Rather my position as Con will be to show, descriptively, that falsifiability is not a necessary condition for a scientific hypothesis or theory.

I agree with the definitions however note that the definition of a scientific theory doesn’t include the actual requirement for falsifiability, rather it’s of a suggestive nature,

“The strength of a scientific theory is related to the diversity of phenomena it can explain, which is measured by its ability to make falsifiable predictions with respect to those phenomena.”

So the strength of a scientific theory is proportional to how bold or risky its predictions are. But since this is just a suggestion for what makes a good scientific theory, then it doesn’t make sense to say I as Con am “arguing for a change in the status quo, which therefore bears the burden of proof.”

I agree I have a burden and that’s to show that falsifiability isn’t a necessary condition for a scientific hypothesis or theory. And Pro’s burden is to show the opposite, that falsifiability is in fact a necessary condition for a scientific hypothesis or theory.
Here is the discussion on this matter. I hope Pro and I can generate a fruitful dialog!

Debate Round No. 1


!. Falsifiability is necessary for a theory to be useful

Science is devoted to the development of theories that make useful predictions. If a theory agrees with everything that can possibly be observed, it has no practical utility. Practical utility means support for technology. Knowing laws of nature allows constructing bridges that hold up to use, integrated circuits that work in computers, drugs that cure disease, and that accomplish all the physical tasks that support life.

Let's momentarily suppose that all scientific theories make predictions. For example, Newton's Law says that force is equal to mass times acceleration. That predicts that if we know two of the three quantities of force, mass, and acceleration, then the third is accurately predicted by the formula. The theory can then be falsified by comparing the predicted value of the quantity with what is observed. Any theory that enables making useful predictions can therefore be falsified.

Now consider a theory in which any observed outcome is consistent with the theory. Such a theory cannot be falsified because nothing that happens is contrary to the theory. Consider the theory, “All events in the world occur according to a grand plan that cannot be known.” Anything that happens is consistent with that theory, and therefore provides no help in building bridges or anything else. A theory that cannot be falsified makes no useful predictions. Making any prediction with practical consequences allows the possibility that the prediction will be wrong, and the theory is thereby falsified.

People are free to speculate about unprovable theories, but that's an activity outside of science.

2. Falsification is necessary for a theory to have explanatory power

Someone put it as, "A theory that explains everything explains nothing." A scientific explanation relates causes to effects: D happened because of A, B, and C. Saying that D happened because of a theory, but anything else might have happened as well, does not explain D. It goes no further than saying that D was observed. A falsifiable theory not only allows D, but it disallows other outcomes. If the not-predicted outcomes are observed, then the theory is invalid.

Because non-falsifiable cannot be contradicted, an infinite number of non-falsifiable theories can coexist. For example, causes might be attributed to invisible spirits of various kinds arranged in various hierarchies. A methodology that allows an infinite number of alternative explanations has little explanatory power. At some point there may be more than one valid scientific theory that explain an event, but choices are severely limited and falsifiability provides the possibility of determining which is true.

Science strives not only to provide useful theories but to explain how the universe works. Falsification is necessary for explanation.

3. Scientific enterprise is distinct from a scientific theory

Data collection is a part of the scientific enterprise. A geologist may assemble a map showing, say, the rock and soil types of New Mexico. That's a scientific activity that doesn't involve falsifiability. If the geologist forms time line theory from the data, that's subject to testing.

Scientists are also free to speculate as part of the scientific enterprise. They can think of something before considering whether or not it can be formulated as a valid scientific hypothesis or theory. If it cannot be formulated as scientific, they can either abandon the idea or try to modify it so it valid. However, the work des not join the body of legitimate science until it is shown to be falsifiable.

For example, string theory is an attempt to link the fundamental forces of nature into a coherent common structure. The hypothesized structure is then considered as a potential scientific theory. There is controversy over whether string theory is a valid scientific theory or not. [3.] Whether it now qualifies or not, scientists, including advocates, agree it must be falsifiable.

Activities leading up to a valid scientific theory need not be proved falsifiable at every point, but the final product must be.

4. Falsification is not the only consideration of science, but it is critical

String theory brings up the point that falsification only gets rid of theories, it doesn't prove them uniquely correct. “When string theory was proposed, it was used to predict flux tubes of strong force. It has also predicted black hole entropy....The problem in both cases are that more simple theories have done the same. So it has passed testing, but not unequivocal testing. That is, you have to complement with comparison between theories because you have competitors for the same predictions.” [4.]

But that's a universal problem in science, not a reason to abandon falsification as a criteria. No scientific theory is ever proved to be universally true. The condition that that a theory is falsifiable is a necessary condition for it to be scientific, but it is not the only consideration at work in science. For example, simple theories are preferred over complex ones. Symmetry is often demanded in a theory, i.e., that it have no preferred direction in space. By a “valid scientific theory” we mean a theory that qualifies as having the potential to be a scientific theory. If the test is performed and fails, then it isn't a valid description of nature, but it was a valid candidate.

5. A history of bad science does not justify bad science

My opponent observed that science has been going on for a long time, but that falsification as a criteria dates to the 50s. Falsification has always been recognized as a criteria. Archimedes discovered that the volume of an object could be measured by the volume of water it displaced. If the theory did not work, would it have persisted? No, falsification has always played a definitive role in science. More recently, "the Michelson–Morley experiment was performed ... to detect the relative motion of matter through the stationary luminiferous aether ("aether wind"). The negative results are generally considered to be the first strong evidence against the then prevalent aether theory" [5.]

There has also been bad science for a very long time. Astrology persisted for a very long time, because all events were found to have astrological explanations. In the 19th century, phrenology, the "science" of predicting character from the shape of person's head, was widely accepted. what past bad science shows is that sharper methods of distinguishing bad science were needed.

Popper pointed out that the strength of a theory is in proportion to it's ability to be falsified. General relativity predicted that light would be bent by gravity. That's such an extraordinary and definitive prediction, that when the bending was observed in a solar eclipse it provided substantial proof of the theory. That was one of the events that inspired Popper's observations.

If A is proportional to B, there is a relationship such that A equals k, the constant of proportionality, time B. Hence if the ability to be falsified is zero, the strength of the theory is zero. The Stanford Philosophy article Con cited says, “... factors combined to make Popper take falsifiability as his criterion for demarcating science from non-science: if a theory is incompatible with possible empirical observations it is scientific; conversely, a theory which is compatible with all such observations, either because, as in the case of Marxism, it has been modified solely to accommodate such observations, or because, as in the case of psychoanalytic theories, it is consistent with all possible observations, is unscientific.” [6.]




The question of Falsificationism as a necessary condition for science takes place against the backdrop of the problems of induction and demarcation. No doubt falsifiability is a virtue for theories, but as Pro admits it’s but one of many virtues for a theory. There is also fruitfulness, ability to solve internal conceptual problems, etc. All of these virtues along with what Pro mentioned and falsifiability, come in relative degree. Another way of saying that a theory has a high degree of falsifiability is that it is “less ad hoc.” Now it is not my contention that "less ad hoc-ness" isn't good for scientific theories to have. Rather my contention is that the virtue of "less ad hoc-ness" doesn't give a clear demarcation or necessary condition for science.

There are also other virtues for a theory and it’s not obvious which one is best or even good enough to be considered as a necessary condition. Yet according to Pro, somehow falsifiability is the more serious virtue; it’s asymmetrical relative to all other virtues. In other words, falsifiability is king of the many virtues a scientific theory can possess, and so it should be a necessary condition for considering something to be science. It is this claim to the throne which I humbly deny.

Why Falsification Is Not a Necessary Condition of Science

Counter Examples

There are many examples of scientific theories which aren’t falsifiable but I’ll just present three.

1) The phlogiston theory of combustion where phlogiston was emitted from substances when they burned. But when it was observed that substances actually gain weight when burnt, and it was here that scientists made the unfalsifiable, yet still scientific, modification that phlogiston had negative weight.

2) Lorentzian relativity preserves Newton’s unfalsifiable absolute frame. There’s even proof that Lorentz’s interpretation may be preferable in the future following the discoveries of John Bell. [2]

3) Unobservable entities postulated in physics such as fields and the early inflationary era to explain flat curvature and large scale isotropy. Such an entity is pushed out beyond our event horizon so that it can never be observed. [3]

Assumption of Fallibilism

The allure of falsifiability over the other virtues arises by way of assuming that knowledge must be deductively certain. But what reason does falsificationism give us to decide between a conflicting observation and the theory instead? If a hypothesis doesn’t forbid any specific observation then it’s taking no risks. But if that were true, then theories which ascribe low probabilities to specific observations without ruling them out completely are unfalsifiable and so unscientific. But nearly all scientific hypotheses are in terms of probability, not deduction! So falsification must be weakened significantly to probabilities with a tolerance threshold relative to each individual field of investigation. But often times this is a subjective “prior probability” rather than a generalized standard.

Furthermore, an absolute measure of falsifiability can’t be defined since the number of potential falsifiers for any theory will always be infinite. For example, how falsifiable is Newton’s law of gravitation? It’s infinitely falsifiable!

Quine-Duhem Problem

In testing a theory by comparing it with observations, there are always background assumptions used in order to merge the theory together with the observations. For instance saying that iron always expands when heated assumes that we can find pure iron samples, or if we wanted to test Chargaff’s rule (bases C and G are equalled to A and T in all DNA samples), we assume many chemical techniques. Another example from an astronomical theory: we must predict the telescope’s orientation, its prediction also involves interconnected statements constituting the theory, initial planetary positions, assumptions enabling corrections to be made for light refraction from the planet in earth’s atmosphere, etc.

Now the problem is that it’s always possible to blame one of these assumptions conjoined to the hypothesis H, rather than H itself. (Historical examples of this available upon request).

There is therefore no asymmetry of virtues found here in favor of falsifiability, for it’s always logically possible to blame other assumptions involved in the test of the hypothesis rather than the hypothesis itself. And so falsificationism becomes no better than justificationism.

Thus in the aftermath of the Quine-Duhem problem we can no longer describe falsifiability as a necessary characteristic of science, it can only be a behavior of science.

Why Falsification Should Not Be a Necessary Condition of Science

The argument for the normative claim, that falsification should be a necessary condition for science, is that falsifiability (or less ad hoc-ness) is asymmetrical relative to all other intellectual virtues a theory can have, and so therefore since it’s the best, then it should be a demarcation criteria for science. History disagrees.

History of Science

If falsificationism had been a necessary requirement for science in the past then some of the best examples of scientific theories would have been discarded in their infancy without being developed.

1) Newton’s gravitational theory was falsified by observations of the moon’s orbit, then Mercury’s.

2) Bohr’s theory of the atom was falsified by Lakatos (1970, pp. 140-54) showing that given current electrodynamics, the electron should collapse into the nucleus within a very short time.

3) Maxwell acknowledged that his own kinetic theory was falsified by measurements on the specific heat of gases (1965, vol.1, p.409). All the important developments in the theory occurred after this falsification.

4) Copernican revolution: there were many falsifications sustained here such as the tower argument, the fact that a spinning earth would fling objects into outer space. There was also the absence of parallax and also that observations of certain bodies doesn’t change size appreciably during the year. Copernicus had no adequate response to these, but he did have simplicity on his side!

It’s therefore unhelpful for science if the extreme openness of falsificationism were made a requirement. For although ruthless criticism is recommended, its opposite, dogmatism also has a positive role to play. But now if both a critical and a dogmatic behavior can be condoned for science, then it’s hard to tell which behaviors are ruled out.

Khun criticized falsificationism on these grounds. Falsifying observations are anomalies that are always present and are not in themselves a reason for abandoning a paradigm. Progress in normal science requires a certain amount of dogmatism and close-mindedness, a refusal to question fundamentals. For because nature is so complex and there are so many possible ways of investigating it, researchers will not make progress unless they have something that focuses attention on a few aspects of it and a specific way of approaching it. Otherwise there’s just too many choices and science becomes chaotic. So as an analogy, even if you are in a very leaky boat, you shouldn’t jump out of it unless a new boat is available (which may also be leaky, but less so)!

Falsificationism is Too Easily Satisfied

Astrology magazine “Your Stars” promised those whose birthday is on 3/28 that “a new lover will put a sparkle in your eye and improve social activities.” A clearly falsifiable claim. Any Christian claim that the bible is literal is also falsifiable.

Thus falsifiability can’t distinguish between astrology and astronomy, creationism and geology, since both make incorrect predictions.


The claim, “all scientific knowledge is falsifiable” itself isn’t falsifiable. So falsifiability is an arbitrary standard for science, not a necessary one.


2. James T. Cushing, "What Measurement Problem?" 75 & see Popper, Quantum Theory, 30

3. John Barrow, “Science and Ultimate Reality,” 363

Debate Round No. 2


Con did not address any of my arguments, therefore they all stand. He does not deny that non-falsifiable theories are useless.

Con's Examples of non-falsifiable theories are incorrect

A theory that is not falsifiable remains after a thousand years as valid as it was on the day it was proposed. Everything is in accord with the theory and nothing can possibly contradict it. Con gives three examples of theories he claims are not falsifiable, yet should be accepted as valid scientific theories. All three examples clearly fail.

Con claimed phlogiston theory is valid science and cannot be falsified. So, has phlogiston theory been falsified? In fact it has. No one considers it a plausible theory today. Con pointed out that when the original theory was falsified, a modified theory was invented to cure the falsification. That admits that the original theory was falsified and abandoned. The new theory of the same name posited that phlogiston has negative mass. So does that theory still stand? No, it was falsified by showing that the lost mass is in combustion products.

Perhaps Con is suggesting that theories are never really falsified, but rather they can always be modified to escape falsification. But that's not true. No version of phlogiston theory remains as valid. No version of phlebotomy remains. No version of the luminiferous ether theory remains. Moreover, a modified theory is not the same theory. The old theory has been falsified. The old theory may inspire a new one.

A “valid scientific theory” is one that is within the scope of science, rather than philosophy or art or whatever. The criteria include making useful predictions and a useful explanation, which in turn implies it is falsifiable. If the theory is testable then it is in the valid form of a scientific theory. If the test fails, then it is not true – a distinct issue.

Con's second example was Lorentz Relativity, more commonly called the Lorentz transformation. “The Lorentz transformation is in accordance with special relativity, but was derived well before special relativity.” Special relativity is falsifiable, so the Lorentz transformation is falsifiable. It is no more than a different mathematical formulation of part of the same theory.

Con points to electromagnetic, gravitational, and other fields that he claims are “not observable.” They are not observable by human vision, but they are observable by scientific instruments and experiments. We know that magnetic fields exist because their hypothesized behavior is verified by predictions made by the theory being confirmed. If hypothesized behavior was not observed, the theory would be falsified. Perhaps Con worries that only the behavior of the field is observed and confirmed while the field itself is not observed. But the theory of fields only deals with how the fields behave and can be used to predict field interactions, so that's all that needs to be subject to falsification

Inflation theory is falsifiable and it has passed many tests. More tests are ongoing, “An experimental program is underway to further test inflation with more precise measurements of the cosmic microwave background. In particular, high precision measurements of the so-called "B-modes" of the polarization of the background radiation will be evidence of the gravitational radiation produced by inflation, and they will also show whether the energy scale of inflation predicted by the simplest models (1015–1016 GeV) is correct.” [7.]

There are currently a number of hypotheses related to cosmology that have not yet reached the stage of being falsifiable theories. Speculation is allowed prior to establishing a claim to being a valid theory.

Con has not given a single example of a valid scientific theory that cannot be falsified. Examples of non-falsifiable theories are astrology (because failed predictions are always rationalized after the fact, while valid theories do admit infinite rationalization), creationism (which explains all gaps in data supporting evolution as being miracles; as gaps are explained, the ones that remain are still claimed to be miracles), and astrology (which provides only reliable post-event explanations). Cited previously, Popper says that Marxism and Freudian psychoanalysis cannot be falsified.

Failed tests yield progress

A failed test of a valid theory raises the question of what went wrong. Con points to examples of theories that failed early tests of falsification. When a test fails, there are two possibilities, either the theory is wrong or the test was wrong. Scientists must then sort out which is the case. With a theory that is not falsifiable, no tests are possible. Failed tests allow science to progress to better understanding of the laws of nature.

Separately, Con generalizes his argument to “But what reason does falsificationism give us to decide between a conflicting observation and the theory instead?” Falsification does not in itself give a reason to decide whether the test was wrong or the theory was wrong, and it does not have to. It tells scientists that there is a problem to be resolved. In general, the resolution involves evaluating the experiment with respect to other established scientific theories. The error may be found in a defect of the experimental setup, often by varying the setup and seeing how the results change. We have many useful scientific theories, so clearly the problem of deciding what is wrong is solvable.

Low probability theories have scientific potential

Con argues that theories with a low probability of outcome cannot be falsified in practice, so they must be considered unscientific. He then argues that all scientific theories depend on probabilities, so falsification is never valid. To be a scientific theory, it is only required that the theory be in principle falsifiable. There are a number of theories in physics that require amounts of energy so large as to be practically unattainable. Nonetheless, the theory is potentially useful, and a method may be found in the future that permits testing. Solar neutrinos were detected by putting 378,540 liters of perchloroethylene a mile under ground, a method previously unachievable. [8.]. A theory that is falsifiable may or may not turn out to be useless, while if it is not falsifiable it is guaranteed to be useless.

The debate resolution claims that falsifiability should be a required. If the required test cannot be achieved in practice, then the theory remains in a box on the shelf, unable to be tested. It is as useless as a non-falsifiable theory, but for a different reason. That some such theories exist does not invalidate the use of falsifiability for the much more common case where falsifiability is practical.

Science depends only on verification within domains, not universal verification.

Theories are not tested in all possible circumstances, so complete validation is impossible. But while some theories depend on observing rare events, many theories do not. Magnetic field theory has been used many thousands of time in practical devices and have worked reliably. That gives them a high probability that they will be useful in similar applications.

Con argues that tests of theories are built on assumptions, and “’s always possible to blame one of these assumptions ..” It's possible to blame the assumption, but it not always possible to follow through and show that was the problem. Falsification allows the question to be raised of whether the assumptions or the theory is wrong, whereas a non-falsifiable theory cannot be tested at all.

The statement "All valid scientific theories are falsifiable." is not a scientific theory. It asserts a definition of "scientific theory."


Con's arguments amount to no more than saying that falsification is sometime difficult to apply.



SubterFugitive forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Con has in effect conceded

My opponent has forfeited Round 3. In Round 2 he failed to address my Round 1 arguments, and of course by forfeiting he did respond to my Round 2 rebuttals. His opportunity to respond is now lost. The debate rules agreed to by my opponent in accepting the challenge include:

DR 4. No new arguments shall be made in Round 4. Pro may rebut previous arguments using new evidence solely for that purpose, but no new arguments are allowed. Con may not present any new evidence or make new arguments in R4. R4 is for summarizing the debate and pointing out merits and deficiencies of the arguments rather than introducing new contentions.

I think this means Con has conceded the debate.

Summary of the debate.

My arguments in favor of having a criteria of falsifiability for a scientific theory are that without the possibility of falsification, a scientific theory can neither provide predictions or explanations. A theory that does not face falsification cannot make predictions, because any prediction faces the possibility of falsification. A theory that cannot be falsified does not explain anything, because all outcomes are consistent with the theory, and an explanation must say why some outcomes occur and others do not. without either prediction or explanation, a theory is outside of the realm of science. We agreed at the outset that science was "knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation."
Things outside of science may, for example, be inspirational, artistic, or poetic; but without prediction or explanation of the natural world, they are not part of science.

Con claimed three examples of valid scientific theories that were not falsifiable.

1. Phlogiston theory is not an example of a valid non-falsifiable scientific theory because it was in fact falsified.

2. Lorentz transformations are not an example of a valid non-falsifiable scientific theory because they equate to a case of special relativity, and special relativity is falsifiable.

3. Unobservable entities are not counter-examples to non-falsifiability because the scientific theories are not about what the entities are, but rather about how nature behaves. For example, string theory does not claim that there are really tiny strings resonating at the subatomic level. The "strings" are explicitly acknowledged as being useful analogies. The theory gives predictive equations, and stops short of making claims about what the equations literally represent. The same is true of electromagnetic field theory. The theory is given precisely by Maxwell's equations, with the concept of fields an explanatory analogy.

I gave examples of examples of non-falsifiable theories: divine plan, astrology, creationism, Freudian psychoanalysis, and Marxism. They are not falsifiable because in each case no test of the theory has been accepted by advocates that would prove it false. None have predictive or explanatory power, so none are part of science. A theory may be true, but still be not part of science.

Con pointed to several problems in using falsifiability as a test of a scientific theory. The problems are real, but in no case is the problem resolved by abandoning falsifiability as a criteria for a valid scientific theory.

If a test fails, scientists do not immediately know if assumptions embodied in the test in the test were wrong or the theory was wrong. Perhaps the experimental apparatus did not work as expected, rather than the theory not working as expected. The requirement for falsification is not supposed to resolve every problem in science. It only says that there is problem that must be resolved.

Con pointed to historical examples of true theories that failed early tests. Further tests showed that the apparent failures of the theory were not the result of valid tests. I cited phlogiston theory, phlebotomy, and the luminiferous ether as examples of theories like that could not be revived after failed experiments. Falsification may not be easy, but the requirement produces sound scientific theories.

Indeed, falsification does not demand that a paradigm be immediately abandoned. That's not the point. The point is that scientists must still work to resolve the question of why the test failed.

It may be impossible to test a theory for practical reasons, including the case where the prediction is too rare to observe. That situation does not invalidate the principle of falsification. Being untestible as a practical matter renders the theory useless for practical reasons, not because it was required to be falsifiable. Advancing technology, a bigger science budget, or a new approach to verification may take the theory off the shelf for testing. Abandoning falsifiability doesn't make the theory any more useful or give it more explanatory power.

There were more arguments, but since Con did not respond I won't repeat my Round 2 presentation. My arguments remain unanswered.


Con should lose the conduct category for his forfeit.

Con should lose for failure to address my affirmative claims that falsifiability is necessary for a scientific theory to be useful and to explain nature, for failure to give a valid example of non-falsifiable theory having scientific validity, and for failure to counter my rebuttals.



SubterFugitive forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
19 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Hardly Subter.
Falsification has to go through the same process as confirmation and verification of Theories.
They are all up to peer review and the scientific verification (method) processes.

If I came up with what I consider as a phenomenon that falsified Evolution, I'd have to present it for the review of peer groups in that particular field of biology, along with the constraints and methods in any experiments or research which I used to arrive at this conclusion.
If my concept, data and analysis proved correct, Evolution may have to be replaced by an updated Theory that corrected the discrepancy I discovered in Evolution.
Though, I don't know what they would call the new Theory of biological progression of living creatures.
They'd probably call it Evolution VII.
Because there is no other Theory available to take its place.
So, they would simply Update Evolution to fix any flaws discovered.
So far, no flaws have needed to be fixed.
Posted by SubterFugitive 3 years ago
Sagey, you've just made falsification more arbitrary.
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Oops: I meant the once well known Scientific Theory that all matter was made of the once considered Elements named Fire, Water, Earth and Ether (magical gas).
Anything that couldn't be explained by rational consideration of combining Water, Fire and Earth, suddenly had the magical gas (Ether) added to it, to make it appear as explained.

This once considered as a Scientific Theory, lasted for centuries and some Elements of it (meant as a pun) made its way into crackpot medicine, now called Homeopathy.

Yes, Homeopathy is a hangover of the belief that everything is composed of Earth, Fire, Water and Ether.
The Homeopathic belief that having too much bile was bad came from the idea that Bile was a bad mixture of those 4 basic Elements.
Which we now know to really not be Elements.
But, that's the beauty of progress and hindsight.
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Once a Scientific Theory is proven wrong it is Wiped and is no longer a current Scientific Theory.
Like phlogiston theory, may have been a Scientific Theory, just as the theory that all elements were made from a combination of the fantastic elements: Earth, Water, Fire and Ether.

Phlogiston theory is no longer a Scientific Theory.
It was in the past, but it has been removed (Wiped) and is not a current scientific theory.
There are hundreds of past Scientific Theories (some ridiculous) that have been so Wiped.
Before Science became standardized , and Scientific Method had become mandatory, there were many weird and wonderful concepts taught as Scientific Theory.
So phlogiston theory is only one of many failed theories.

It really doesn't count as an example of a currently accepted Worthless Scientific Theory!
Posted by SubterFugitive 3 years ago
and worthless scientific theories normally aren't accepted.
Posted by SubterFugitive 3 years ago
See phlogiston theory.
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Hmmmm, Subter: @ "Well you can still have a worthless scientific theory which is still a scientific theory"

I'd like to see a worthless scientific theory.

To my knowledge, there are no worthless scientific theories.
Every accepted Scientific Theory must explain at least one Fact or Phenomenon to be accepted.
If it doesn't explain a Fact or phenomenon adequately and Rationally, it cannot be called a Scientific Theory.
Posted by SubterFugitive 3 years ago
Thanks for your interest, I'll give several examples throughout the history of science.
Posted by Smithereens 3 years ago
I'm intrigued. I can't imagine how the scientific method can produce something non-falsifiable.
Posted by SubterFugitive 3 years ago
Well I see you didn't actually chance the res,

"Scientific theories should require the ability to be falsified."

As per our discussion it should read,

"Scientific theories require the ability to be falsified."
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Reasons for voting decision: Poor... poor.. SubterFugitive.
Vote Placed by Poetaster 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: In his opening case, Pro equated the untestable with the unfalsifiable: a hypothesis which cannot be falsified can make no predictions, and therefore cannot be pitted against observation. The inability to empirically test it would disqualify it as scientific. Pro's main contention was that falsifiability is a necessary quality of scientific theories, but Con persistently argued against a sufficiency claim which Pro didn't make, and which had no capacity to upset the resolution. Con's critique of falsificationism also seemed inconsistent: he characterized it as both too exclusionary and too permissive, while his counterexamples conflated the falsifiable and the falsified. The latter were adequately rebutted by Pro. Pro didn't directly confront Quine-Duhem, but I was unconvinced that it posed a threat to the resolution: falsifiability needn't serve to divide the true elements from the false, only the testable elements from the untestable. Conduct loss for forfeit.
Vote Placed by Enji 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con forfeits after round 2, losing conduct. Several of Pro's rounds were in the teeniest little text making his arguments more challenging to read, S&G to Con. Con never addresses Pro's opening arguments. Con argues that (1) unspecific theories will be preferred by falsification because they aren't falsifiable but consequently such theories would be unscientific, (2) a failed prediction of a theory can be due to a flaw in either the theory itself or in the assumptions made testing the theory so a falsified prediction does not show that the theory is wrong, and (3) falsified predictions do not and should not warrant discarding a theory or theories would be discarded too easily which is unhelpful for science. (1) is self defeating - if falsifiability is a requirement of science, then unfalsifiable theories are unscientific. Pro argues that (2) and (3) are merely arguments that falsification can be difficult to test, whereas unfalsifiable theories are untestable. Arguments to Pro.