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Is science really "objective "?

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I'm trying to come to terms with an argument I've been having with a friend of mine.

I take the position that science is fundamentally objective. I don't think that scientists themselves are necessarily objective, but that science as a whole is objective. I also don't think that science necessarily arrives at the absolute truth. I make the claim, though, that science can reach objective truth.

My friend takes a different position. He claims that science cannot be objective as there is always inherent bias. He thinks that science is at least to some degree subjective, that science isn't done in a vacuum so to speak, it's done by people -- people who are laden with social, political, and economic baggage -- and that science is done within an historical context.

I've been trying to read up on each side of this debate and it seems quite involved.

Can anyone suggest some good arguments from both sides? I want to do this as "objectively" as I can.

 


all that matters is the quality of the present moment. Because that's all there is to reality. A present Moment 😇

 

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Objectivity is a subjective notion.


You are God. You are Love. You are Infinity. You are Leo.

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8 minutes ago, Leo Gura said:

Objectivity is a subjective notion.

Lol. I guess they can overlap but I wouldn't equate them to one another. 

I think an idea is objective when it doesn’t matter who’s talking. When it expresses a reality without modifying it.

And an idea is subjective when it belongs to us, when it is shaped by our way of thinking, our values or even our mood.

Much of the world is  chaos  due to people who think that their subjective views do reflect an objective reality, and they want other people to think likewise.

If you’re sad, you’ll see a half-empty glass. If you’re happy, you’ll see a half-full glass. I will tell you the glass contains 50% of both sides . 

 

 

BTW. You ignored my post to you in the dating section when I asked you to have a conversation with each other outside the forum ..so I take this here as another chance and ask you again  : can I contact you outside the forum (using WhatsApp or discord or Skype or whatever you like).


all that matters is the quality of the present moment. Because that's all there is to reality. A present Moment 😇

 

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It finds regularities in nature.


Intrinsic joy is revealed in the marriage of meaning and being.

 

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Do you believe that for something to be objectively true it must be justified? For example, if I point at something and say it a cat, I need to justify why what I am pointing at is a cat for it to be objectively true that it is a cat

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13 hours ago, Ulax said:

Do you believe that for something to be objectively true it must be justified? For example, if I point at something and say it a cat, I need to justify why what I am pointing at is a cat for it to be objectively true that it is a cat

What makes something "objective " is an interesting question. 

My definition is that It has to be 100% accurate description of the phenomenon at hand .unfiltered by humans biases and emotional state. 

For example..the electron weighs such and such..this fact can be considered objective if its actually a true proposition about the electron's mass .unfiltered or colored by the human observer's biases who took the measurements.

Edited by Someone here

all that matters is the quality of the present moment. Because that's all there is to reality. A present Moment 😇

 

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3 hours ago, Someone here said:

For example..the electron weighs such and such..this fact can be considered objective if its actually a true proposition about the electron's mass .unfiltered or colored by the human observer's biases who took the measurements.

How does the human observer discover what is objective?


Intrinsic joy is revealed in the marriage of meaning and being.

 

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Objective and subjective are unnecessary philosophical labels that will not get anyone anywhere. It's better to think of science as a highly practical and effective tool for manipulating external reality.


Foolish until proven other-wise ;)

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@Someone here It probably really depends on the specific phenomenon.

There are more exact sciences like physics and less exact ones like psychology.

And there is definitely bias within science. Science doesn't always just objectively figure out truth.

Like for example conventional western medicine is considered evidence based which basically means that it's based on scientific findings.

Naturopathy is considered unscientific. So basically if you prescribe someone vitamins and minerals and herbs as a treatment this would be considered "unscientific".

But it's not even like there are no studies done on the effectiveness of "natural" substances like vitamins to treat certain dysfunctions, there are studies like this. But these findings just get much less recognition and attention. There clearly is a bias towards pharmaceutical drugs and many more studies are made for the efficacy of these pharmaceutical drugs, and then when the results show that a certain drug yields better results than just a pure placebo, the treatment with this drug is considered an evidence based treatment.

But there are even cases where certain antidepressants did not even exceed the effectiveness of the placebo and still the antidepressants found their way on the market. Hmmmm...might this have something to do with money that could be earned? 🤔🤔

Even in sciences like physics it has happened that older theories were later proven wrong. Like Einstein basically disproved the physics of Newton. You can use Newtonian physics to calculate certain things, but that's because for most of our purposes the effects of general relativity can be ignored.

So science can be wrong, there are biases and preferences within science, financial interests that interfere with science and so on.

But therefore I do not believe that science is horribly wrong most of the time, it's just not perfect.

If science was that bad we probably wouldn't be able to build smartphones etc.

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4 hours ago, Carl-Richard said:

How does the human observer discover what is objective?

Of course via the act of observation which is a subjective experience. 

Are you hinting at the measurement problem In quantum physics? 

 You can't measure the state of a system without disturbing the system. More accurately, whenever you measure a system, you are merging with it, to create a hybrid system. You can't disentangle the observer from the observed. It's all tangled up in itself. 

I think this is a point for the argument that science can't escape the subjective domain.

Edited by Someone here

all that matters is the quality of the present moment. Because that's all there is to reality. A present Moment 😇

 

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1 hour ago, Gesundheit2 said:

Objective and subjective are unnecessary philosophical labels that will not get anyone anywhere. It's better to think of science as a highly practical and effective tool for manipulating external reality.

It's obviously more than that .

Science is the best tool that we have so far for understanding the world around us, or the entire universe. It is a process by which we observe, create hypotheses, test hypotheses, reject failed results, refine hypotheses or create new ones, and continue so.

The objectivity of science as lies in its insistence that hypotheses pass tests in the real world before they are accepted as useful or truthful. A succesful experiment to test a hypothesis must be repeatable, even by different scientists on different days and in different places or cultures, in order to be accepted. As such, it is the only known process by which we can obtain objective knowledge of our world.

If you can think of any other "objective "method to arrive at certain conclusions about the world then please provide. 

And before you say it ..I know what you gonna say .you will probably suggest new age spirituality techniques such as meditation, psychedelics, yoga ,Mantras etc...but what you have to understand is that these fall into the category of science. 

I sense we need a good definition of what science is before we proceed In this conversation. Otherwise we will mix stuff up unnecessarily. 


all that matters is the quality of the present moment. Because that's all there is to reality. A present Moment 😇

 

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52 minutes ago, Federico del pueblo said:

@Someone here It probably really depends on the specific phenomenon.

There are more exact sciences like physics and less exact ones like psychology.

And there is definitely bias within science. Science doesn't always just objectively figure out truth.

Like for example conventional western medicine is considered evidence based which basically means that it's based on scientific findings.

Naturopathy is considered unscientific. So basically if you prescribe someone vitamins and minerals and herbs as a treatment this would be considered "unscientific".

But it's not even like there are no studies done on the effectiveness of "natural" substances like vitamins to treat certain dysfunctions, there are studies like this. But these findings just get much less recognition and attention. There clearly is a bias towards pharmaceutical drugs and many more studies are made for the efficacy of these pharmaceutical drugs, and then when the results show that a certain drug yields better results than just a pure placebo, the treatment with this drug is considered an evidence based treatment.

But there are even cases where certain antidepressants did not even exceed the effectiveness of the placebo and still the antidepressants found their way on the market. Hmmmm...might this have something to do with money that could be earned? 🤔🤔

Even in sciences like physics it has happened that older theories were later proven wrong. Like Einstein basically disproved the physics of Newton. You can use Newtonian physics to calculate certain things, but that's because for most of our purposes the effects of general relativity can be ignored.

So science can be wrong, there are biases and preferences within science, financial interests that interfere with science and so on.

But therefore I do not believe that science is horribly wrong most of the time, it's just not perfect.

If science was that bad we probably wouldn't be able to build smartphones etc.

 

I think this question is requiring a bit of definition of three terms: science, objective, and subjective. I will define science as the process of scientific investigation. Most of the physical sciences such as physics and chemistry follow the scientific process, which requires experimental measurements and independent replication of the experiments. Mathematics does not follow the scientific process although it might be considered the language of the scientific process. Most of the so-called social sciences do not follow the scientific process and should be called arts rather than science. Independent replication is rare in these subjects because it is difficult and results so often are not replicated.

By objective, I mean experimental measurements (results) that do not change (are invariant) regardless of the persons/experimenters conducting the experiment.

By subjective, I mean results that vary depending on the the experimenters and/or their pre-existing opinions. Based on these definitions, science is human-objective. I add the human prefix because we only know reality as humans; we cannot conceive of reality beyond the scope of our humanity and its senses. Note that being objective in this sense does not necessarily mean that science will always produce “true” results; only that the results are repeatable. Some people believe that the modern physics of relativity and quantum mechanics added subjectivity into physics because the experiment conducted influences the results of the experiment. For instance, the measured length of some object can vary based on the movement of the observer/subject. However, the same result will obtained by other observer/subject with the same movement conditions with respect to the object. Quantum mechanics has similar issues with respect to the wave or particulate nature of measurements. However, these results are also replicable consistently.

 quantum mechanics and relativity are considered our best descriptions of nature but they are incompatible at a deep level. Maybe and non-human can understand how they both can be “true.”



all that matters is the quality of the present moment. Because that's all there is to reality. A present Moment 😇

 

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1 hour ago, Someone here said:

Of course via the act of observation which is a subjective experience. 

Are you hinting at the measurement problem In quantum physics? 

I'm hinting at repeated observation and experimentation. The more you're able to establish regularities, the more you want to call it objective. That said, scientific objectivity is never absolute. Science is always embedded in a context, and its objectivity can only be judged relative to that context. This applies to every level of the scientific process: methodology, data collection, data interpretation etc.

For example, you could claim that Spiral Dynamics has established certain regularities of human development, but within the constraints of its metaphysical and methodological assumptions like psychological essentialism and developmental stage theory, the data collection constrains of WEIRD bias and Clare Graves' essay methodology, the data interpretation constraints of thematic analysis etc.


Intrinsic joy is revealed in the marriage of meaning and being.

 

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1 hour ago, Someone here said:

It's obviously more than that .

Not really.

1 hour ago, Someone here said:

Science is the best tool that we have so far for understanding the world around us, or the entire universe. It is a process by which we observe, create hypotheses, test hypotheses, reject failed results, refine hypotheses or create new ones, and continue so.

What's the point of understanding the world through science? Is it not to ultimately have the ability to manipulate it and create desired effects in external reality?

1 hour ago, Someone here said:


The objectivity of science as lies in its insistence that hypotheses pass tests in the real world before they are accepted as useful or truthful. A succesful experiment to test a hypothesis must be repeatable, even by different scientists on different days and in different places or cultures, in order to be accepted. As such, it is the only known process by which we can obtain objective knowledge of our world.

If you can think of any other "objective "method to arrive at certain conclusions about the world then please provide. 

You are imagining the notion of objectivity. It is your subjective creation.

1 hour ago, Someone here said:

And before you say it ..I know what you gonna say .you will probably suggest new age spirituality techniques such as meditation, psychedelics, yoga ,Mantras etc...but what you have to understand is that these fall into the category of science. 

Lol. Do you think I'm a hippy or someone with spiritual ego?

1 hour ago, Someone here said:

I sense we need a good definition of what science is before we proceed In this conversation. Otherwise we will mix stuff up unnecessarily. 

I know what science actually is. But if you want you may check Wikipedia or something.


Foolish until proven other-wise ;)

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5 minutes ago, Gesundheit2 said:

You are imagining the notion of objectivity. It is your subjective creation.

What do you call it when different scientists repeat the same experiment under the same conditions and get the same result?


Intrinsic joy is revealed in the marriage of meaning and being.

 

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19 minutes ago, Carl-Richard said:

I'm hinting at repeated observation and experimentation. The more you're able to establish regularities, the more you want to call it objective. That said, scientific objectivity is never absolute. Science is always embedded in a context, and its objectivity can only be judged relative to that context. This applies to every level of the scientific process: methodology, data collection, data interpretation etc.

For example, you could claim that Spiral Dynamics has established certain regularities of human development, but within the constraints of its metaphysical and methodological assumptions like psychological essentialism and developmental stage theory, the data collection constrains of WEIRD bias and Clare Graves' essay methodology, the data interpretation constraints of thematic analysis etc.

I get the first paragraph. Not sure I follow the second one .sometimes you remind me of Nahm with your cryptic style xD

Well..scientists observe carefully and repeatedly..Then they study what they have observed and form theories using what they deduce from their observations.
They determine what the theory predicts will happen under specific conditions.
Then they design and run experiments to test those prediction.
Then other scientists run those same experiments to verify that the results are the same for everyone.
If everything works out and matches up they and  there is no other theories  around that explain the same thing just as well they start calling it an accepted theory.
That’s as close as they ever get to “knowing” something because tomorrow a new discovery may be made that their theory should predict and doesn’t
If that happens, they adjust the theory to take the new discovery in to account and go back to the testing phase.
Sometimes the new discovery makes so much difference it can’t be worked in to the existing theory.
Then they go back to the raw data and start over from there to create a whole new, entirely different theory. So it's a self-correcting system.  Science is the most objective method to arrive at conclusion about the nature of universe,biology, chemistry, physics, or really anything.  I know I'm sounding like a stage orange materialist but it Is what it is . I believe science has more both truthfulness and practicality than mysticism or spirituality. But that's just me .

12 minutes ago, Gesundheit2 said:

What's the point of understanding the world through science? Is it not to ultimately have the ability to manipulate it and create desired effects in external reality?

No .that's one point .but there are many others . To arrive at an accurate knowledge about the world.  Here is where epistemology kicks in. How do we know ANYTHING?  In my opinion via direct experience and direct experimentation. 

You might ask what's the point of that either ? And here there is really no answer. You can have sex with your pragmatism all you want but being practical and pragmatic about everything isn't gonna produce the desired results in your life .maybe because you have your priorities backwards. You think that practicality is more important than Truth .while I think the opposite is the case .


all that matters is the quality of the present moment. Because that's all there is to reality. A present Moment 😇

 

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@Someone here yeah I understand what you mean with science and objectivity.

But still having said all that I still believe that science is influenced by the subjectivity of the people who do it.

Science claims that it wants to generate knowledge about reality. But then when you look at what science actually studies you can clearly see that there are certain preferences.

Why is there not a ton of science done about voodoo or whether ghosts exist or not? I mean there's probably some research on this, but compared to how much research there is for understanding quantum mechanics or whatever it's very little.

Can you imagine how in some other world (like if we imagine a parallel universe for a moment) it could be the other way around? Like all the time they would study paranormal activity and ghosts and voodoo and they would care little about gravity.

Then science also isn't ever satisfied with just measuring things. The measurements have to be interpreted and a theory is required for what causes measurements to be the way they are. Humans have to come up with that theory and then validate it. Science has the standard for itself to be able to explain why certain measurements are the way they are, as in which physical law is causing these measurements or these phenomenons.

What do you think? If there were hyper intelligent aliens with 1000 IQ, will they arrive at the exact same conclusions based on certain measurements? Because if the results are objectively true, this should be the case.

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Science is an illusion, it is an imagination, even though it can be pretty helpful on the practical level. It is nothing but the patterns of consciousness, but of course, by studying the manifestation of consciousness, you can come to understandings about consciousness, yeah. 

Edited by Vibroverse

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10 hours ago, Carl-Richard said:

What do you call it when different scientists repeat the same experiment under the same conditions and get the same result?

Consistency.

10 hours ago, Someone here said:

No .that's one point .but there are many others . To arrive at an accurate knowledge about the world.  Here is where epistemology kicks in. How do we know ANYTHING?  In my opinion via direct experience and direct experimentation. 

You might ask what's the point of that either ? And here there is really no answer. You can have sex with your pragmatism all you want but being practical and pragmatic about everything isn't gonna produce the desired results in your life .maybe because you have your priorities backwards. You think that practicality is more important than Truth .while I think the opposite is the case .

This isn't about my preference or your preference. Science does not produce knowledge, because knowledge is imaginary in the first place. It's just an alternative language to view the world through. Another way to put it is that science can only produce relative kind of "knowledge", but never absolute. Science cannot arrive at absolute truth even if it wanted to, because that's not what it's for.

To give an example, think of gravity. You might think that Isaac Newton somehow discovered gravity through science, and that gravity somehow explained something about the universe. But that's not actually true. If you think about gravity, it's literally just the phenomenon of objects falling down, or more simply the phenomenon of objects moving from up-to-down instead of from down-to-up. Newton simply thought and came up with a way of describing this phenomenon in a way that can be utilized with more accuracy when he proposed that the falling occurs due to the masses that objects hold (he invented this mass concept and the gravitational constant and somehow found a way to link between those concepts and distance). So he did not invent or discovered gravity per se, and gravity is not knowledge in any actual way, since the theory didn't actually explain anything the universe, but rather provided a framework to make use of.

Really, Newton was simply just smart enough to be able to translate the observable phenomenon of objects falling down into his famous mathematical equation: F = G(m1*m2)/R2, and this equation made it possible for us to manipulate the world in a way that serves our technical goals more accurately. But of course, this gravity equation does not work in dating and relationships, since bigger masses are not as attractive as the curvy ones ;)

So gravity is not an objective knowledge. It's rather just one possible interpretation/translation of the original observable phenomenon. If you're smart enough, you might be able to create your own gravity theory and call it something else, like the incredible Aakash theory. Instead of objects falling down, you might explain this phenomenon differently, like for example, you might say that objects are actually being pushed down from above instead of pulled down from below (credits to Phoebe from F.R.I.E.N.D.S). And if you somehow manage to find an equation that proves consistency, then you might get nominated or even earn a Nobel prize.

Edited by Gesundheit2

Foolish until proven other-wise ;)

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14 hours ago, Federico del pueblo said:

@Someone here yeah I understand what you mean with science and objectivity.

But still having said all that I still believe that science is influenced by the subjectivity of the people who do it.

Science claims that it wants to generate knowledge about reality. But then when you look at what science actually studies you can clearly see that there are certain preferences.

Why is there not a ton of science done about voodoo or whether ghosts exist or not? I mean there's probably some research on this, but compared to how much research there is for understanding quantum mechanics or whatever it's very little.

Can you imagine how in some other world (like if we imagine a parallel universe for a moment) it could be the other way around? Like all the time they would study paranormal activity and ghosts and voodoo and they would care little about gravity.

Then science also isn't ever satisfied with just measuring things. The measurements have to be interpreted and a theory is required for what causes measurements to be the way they are. Humans have to come up with that theory and then validate it. Science has the standard for itself to be able to explain why certain measurements are the way they are, as in which physical law is causing these measurements or these phenomenons.

What do you think? If there were hyper intelligent aliens with 1000 IQ, will they arrive at the exact same conclusions based on certain measurements? Because if the results are objectively true, this should be the case.

I think this is an argument for science being subjective . If I remember correctly from Leo's series about science..he mentioned that science is the new era religion. It comes with epistemic and metaphysical background and worldview. That's why they don't study ghosts and paranormal phenomenon. Because the materialist paradigm is baked into science. If a phenomenon can't be measured materially the it doesn't exist .and ghosts of course are immaterial. 

I think Science is definitely subjective, and mathematics, models, simulations and their wrong interpretations of everything are merely wrong assumptions even though they are so ultra-hardcore believed to be true, just like the actual religion is. that’s what science is, religion, instead of admitting limitations and the unknown, people cannot accept these limitations of knowledge, actually, limitations of assumptions, since the only way we can 100% know that something is knowledge is to have the entire picture of everything, all of it, and we cannot even get knowledge from this tiny directly observable part, and the smaller picture we are able to observe, the more wrong we are-just real-world facts.

Edited by Someone here

all that matters is the quality of the present moment. Because that's all there is to reality. A present Moment 😇

 

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