"It seems to be very hard to get some people to understand that the number of “tests of string theory” is not “very few” but zero, for the simple reason that there are no predictions of string theory, generic or otherwise."
What's the counterargument to that, then? I'm curious!
The notion that "it will be once we have established the parameters of our low energy world well enough" is not supported by any evidence, unless you are saying "once we have given it the correct theory to imitate, it will imitate it correctly". A sheet of paper could do that, though.
i.e. it is just creating a complicated system to "curve fit" known data.
If Math had only ever produced such models? Yes, yes I would. And I think so would you, and most other people.
Are you saying string theory is pure math?
If not, then the comparison doesn't make sense.
Now, “falsification” itself is a silly/naive cartoon-ish framework for how to do science. It has its uses, but we mustn’t cling to it too much (which would be cargo culting). We certainly have many other useful approaches as well.
In fundamental physics, unlike models of other limited domains, experimental results/constraints over history keep composing on top of each other. So, it is very hard to build a theory that satisfies every one of the past constraints. In a sense, string theory is the only example we’ve managed, on that front. Other “alternatives” consider a much more limited domain (quantum gravity), for better or for worse.
Whether we must continue investing effort/resources on that front is a political question, not a scientific one. And that is a complicated question, with many aspects to consider. Let’s please not get hung up on the “falsification” bugbear. If we were really nitpicky about falsification, we would completely cease doing/studying/researching psychology, economics and a whole host of complex topics.
i don't understand your point. you're saying something like "even though GR supersedes Newton it doesn't falsify Newton, and Newton is still useful". yes incorrect theories can still be useful but that doesn't make them correct. As soon as i use Newton for very fast things (or very small things) and i get poor results that is falsification of the claim that Newton is a GUT. maybe that isn't an interesting claim (though certainly there are a lot of theorists that are interested in that claim) but that's subjective not formal.
That's totally false. Don't lump in other sciences with whatever physics is doing with string theory just because you don't have experience with them.
Psychology and economics are ruled by falsifiable theories! You might not be able to run experiments that are as clean as one might want, but our theories of how, for example, children learn language are absolutely falsifiable and they make concrete predictions about the kinds of errors children should make. Or what kind of behavior you should see from your dog when you train them, theories built up with hard work over a century of modeling and experiments.
It seems to me scientific realism only worked as long as we kept falsifying things. The main example people point to is the moon landings, which was pretty long ago now. What other useful approaches do we have? I've studied philosophy of science--once the philosophers told scientists that falsification was cartoonish, it seems like they've moved onto more social means of demarcating science, but ultimately a scientific statement has an epistemal value on some spectrum. I'd say it's much more valuable when we are able to falsify--how else can we determine how true something is?
The main progress in science has all come from engineering recently--we have fast computers so we can just throw the problem at the computer. That is ending now, or at least it will end at some point. Ultimately without a better scientific theory we can't give computers harder problems.
I was taught logical positivism had failed, however I don't believe it really has failed.
What successes has this new modern method of science really had? I don't see quantum mechanics really progressing that much beyond filling in the paradigm. Finding a new paradigm is where science really shines, and I think that tends to happen with methods of Popper and Ockham.
Finding simpler, more predictive theories has a much larger effect on society versus finding theories which are extremely complex to only explain 0.0001% of the phenomena.
If you think our current theories are necessarily complex, then you're a Platonist, eeek!
Like what? If a model generates testable predictions, surely it's still important to go ahead and test them?
Each scientific discipline has its own standards. We're talking about physics, so I don't think what psychologists are or aren't doing with their field is relevant.
In physics you used to produce predictions and test those predictions experimentally. It's not too sophisticated but it has worked pretty much miraculously so far. Now, if we're into building models that can't produce predictions, that might be deep and useful at some point, but it doesn't mean everybody else has to accept an inversion of epistemology now to make room for it simply because there are people asking to do so.
The psychology and economics examples are very ironic to me as I see the main issue with the effectiveness of those fields being precisely the lack of falsifiable results in their research. Its prone to a large body of bogus theories being used to the detriment of the field.
>Now, “falsification” itself is a silly/naive cartoon-ish framework for how to do science.
Unfortunately, Popper's "theory" has become the dominant go to for epistemology of Science today. Many scientists now think science=falsifiability which is wrong. Popper over generalized a narrow method and elevated it to a global and distinguishing characteristic of the scientific method. Popper's error itself was based on the assumption that logic=Deduction (i.e. identifying a contradiction is our only means to "truth") and completely ignored Induction which is the real problem in epistemology. You can't prove something false without first knowing what is true. Knowledge or truth is not what is left over after you prove everything else false which is an impossible task anyway.
P1: All men are mortal.
P2: Socrates is a man.
Ergo: Socrates is mortal.
So this is one of the standard forms of a deductive syllogism (there are many others). The basic idea is that if you accept that premises 1 & 2 are true then the inference must follow otherwise your thinking includes a contradiction. E.g. All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, but if you think that Socrates is immortal then it implies a contradiction so one or both of your premises are wrong or your belief that Socrates is immortal is wrong.
In formal logic courses in college they swamp you with all the variants of the deductive syllogism and what gets lost is that they are all based on Aristotle's Law of Identity. The Law of Identity basically says "A is A", a thing that exists is what it is and that contradictions cannot exist. So if you find a contradiction in your thinking then you have gone off the rails somewhere in that process.
So Popper's falsifiability principle is implicitly based on deductive logic which in turn is based on Aristotle's Law of Identity. Popper's mistake was ignoring induction or generalization which is evident even in the syllogism above. The premise "All men are mortal" is a generalization not a deductive conclusion; where do these premises come from? So deduction (and falsifiability) is dependent on induction which his theory completely ignores so it is DOA.
But the string theory framework has not produced any testable models.
> string theory is the only example we’ve managed, on that front
Huh? String theory hasn't produced any testable models, so it has not done anything towards satisfying all of the constraints of known experimental results.
Whether, sure. But if politicians fund $X towards high-energy physics, how to allocate that funding is at least partly a scientific question.
And driving dollars after an unfalsifiable theory (or framework) sounds like a money pit. There's no point at which its adherents will say "never mind, this is a bad approach, let's try something else."
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge%27s_law_of_headline...