Skeptical Software Tools

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Tim Farley's site Skeptical Software Tools has some interesting posts, particularly this one about Building Internet Tools For Skeptics.

http://skeptools.wordpress.com/2008/07/01/building-internet-tools-for-skeptics/

It does not seem like there's been much activity there. Being a programmer I find it pretty interesting, and I'd like to experiment with some tools myself.

I think one of the more useful tools would be some way of getting a quick perspective on the scale of a topic, its relative size and links to other topics. This is quite hard to do at the moment.
 

lotek

Active Member
Very nice. i am trying to use pearltree to collect my sprawling to a manageable mess.
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
Mick....have you ever considered writing something on..."how to eliminate bunk"....?....say, from the standpoint where 'you have a theory'....and the best ways to eliminate bunk from a theory ?
I'm guessing this might be derived greatly from the scientific method, as well as ways to avoid personal biases (in an internet world).
I was very inspired from reading Feynman's "Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman", specifically the last chapter. Here's a snip...

It's a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty--a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you're doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid--not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you've eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked--to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can--if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong--to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

In summary, the idea is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgement in one particular direction or another.
Content from External Source

Cargo Cult Science
Richard Feynman
From a Caltech commencement address given in 1974
Also in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!
http://neurotheory.columbia.edu/~ken/cargo_cult.html

and a comment on the above speech...
Unfortunately, Feynman omits the fundamental point: The method must be primarily inductive, not deductive, in order to be self-correcting and compatible with “scientific integrity.” As I explain in my book, the standard deductive method–in other words, the process of making wild guesses and then working backwards from the supposed answer to the observed facts–is invulnerable to counter-evidence and is not self-correcting. Only the inductive method that goes from observations to generalizations has the integrity and efficacy that Feynman claims for science.
Content from External Source
http://www.thelogicalleap.com/?p=164
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Yes. And I'm a big Feynman fan. I'm on vacation right now but will address this when I return.
 
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