Sunday, July 12, 2009

the problem of induction

As I wrote that this blog won't only talk about rubbish politics of my country. So I remain obliged to my words. وہ وعدہ ہی کیا جو وفا نہ ہو. Today I read a very important topic which I thought worth discussing. We teenagers, especially those who have two three books on science, have a feeling that science is 100% rational and as humans progress science would also progress and at the end every thing would be demystified. So it's just a matter of time that science would be the final and only touch-stone of truth. Anything "scientific" will be true and anything "non-scientific" would be false.سچ تو صرف وہ ہے جس کو عقل سچ کہے۔. This is the whole idea which engrosses us as if it's a religious dogma. We don't read, so we are led astray.

If we look at the history of science we will see that science uses specific tools through which it deciphers fact or logic. On the most fundamental level these method include induction and deduction. I won't discuss what deduction is leaving it as a question for the reader. Just one sentence, it has inherent problems if you look at it.

Our discussion focuses on induction. Induction is a method through which scientists generalize an idea and expanding it over space and time. I might explain this through a "non-scientific" example, شاہد ہر جمہ کو نماز پڑھتا ہے، اس لیے وہ اس جمہ کو بھی پڑھے گا. The problem is that even if shahid offers prayer on every friday we cannot conclude that he will offer it on this friday. He might be going on a dance party or her sister's marriage! We cannot generalize this result. the result has a 50-50 probability.

Similarly, scientific induction works on a principle know as UN, not united nations but uniformity of nature. for example, let us take the newton's law of universal gravitation. Newton say's that if two bodies are in close proximity than will apply a force on each other which is (G*M1*M2)/r^2. where the constant G is again termed as the "universal" gravitational constant. Newton only tested his result on apples, stones and the heavenly bodies which could be seen through his telescope. But what he said was,"Because my laws apply equally good on apples, stones and few heavenly bodies, they are equally good for the whole universe". (An inductive statement similar to shahid friday prayer). Similar is the case with Coloumb's law, farady's law of electro-magnetism, et cetera. All these scientist use the the idea of uniformity of nature. All these laws take this for granted that nature is uniform. This idea was challenged in the 18th century by the philosopher David Hume.

Hume asked a very simple question. Many scientist use the method of induction but how can they prove induction to be itself a truth? A person might answer, "because induction has been working for the last 5000 year so can induct that it will continue to work in the future". But this is "begging the question", a logical fallacy. No can can say "I speak truth because i speak truth" similarly no one can say "I believe in induction because I inducted this result that i believe in induction". This is a circular argument.

This thought of Hume, known as the problem of induction, attacks at the root of science. Because if the way to truth is irrational then how can the truth by rational!

Many scientist tried to prove Hume wrong, most notably Karl Popper, but no one succeeded. Today the philosophers of science don't consider science to be rational. In fact science is no reality, it's an interpretation of reality.

Many people nowadays try to prove religion through science, but i think they don't know what the West itself is thinking . We shouldn't use science to prove religion as irrationality cannot prove religion. Akbar ala-badi correctly said:
فلسفی کو ڈھونڈنے سے خدا ملتا نہیں
ڈور سلجھا رہے ہیں، اور سرا ملتا نہیں۔

1)philosophy of science

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