Comments about "Karl Popper" in Wikipedia

This document contains comments about the article Karl Popper in Wikipedia
In the last paragraph I explain my own opinion.



The article starts with the following sentence.
A theory in the empirical sciences can never be proven, but it can be falsified, meaning that it can and should be scrutinized by decisive experiments.
I agree. Every theory should be able to be tested by performing experiments. The results of this tests are either in agreement or in disagreement with the expected or predicted results of the tests. When they are in disagreement the theory is wrong and has to be adapted. When there is agreement, testing should continue.

1. Personal life

2. Honours and awards

3 Philosophy

3.1 Background to Popper's ideas

Popper puzzled over the stark contrast between the non-scientific character of Freud and Adler's theories in the field of psychology and the revolution set off by Einstein's theory of relativity in physics in the early 20th century.
The problem is that the theory of relativity is also very difficult to test by performing experiments. Its is mainly tested by performing observations.
In contrast, nothing could, even in principle, falsify psychoanalytic theories.
The issue is to what extend psychoanalytic theories can be tested. Such a theory should at least (clearly) identify (describe) certain symptons, the relations between the symptons and the cause of these symptons.
He considered that if a theory cannot, in principle, be falsified by criticism, it is not a scientific theory.
You can always criticize a theory and come up with a different theory but you cannot test a theory by criticism nor as a thought experiment.

3.2 Philosophy of science

3.2.1 Falsifiability/problem of demarcation

Popper argued strongly against the latter, holding that scientific theories are abstract in nature, and can be tested only indirectly, by reference to their implications
Most scientific theories are very realistic and can directly be tested in a laboratory. His opinion is largely true for the relativity theory in its wider implications.
Popper also wrote extensively against the famous Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics.
The problem with quantum mechanics is that the laws of physics at microscopic level are very difficult to test.
This problem arises from his position that the truth content of our theories, even the best of them, cannot be verified by scientific testing, but can only be falsified.
That is in principle true. The problem is that many theories can not be tested.
Again, in this context the word "falsified" does not refer to something being "fake"; rather, that something can be (i.e., is capable of being) shown to be false by observation or experiment.
There is a hugh difference between testing by observation only or by performing experiments.

3.2.2 Falsification/problem of induction

He states that while there is no way to prove that the sun will rise, it is possible to formulate the theory that every day the sun will rise;
It is possible to describe by using Newton's Law that every day the sun will rise. You can test that by performing observations but not by performing experiments.
It is impossible, Popper argues, to ensure a theory to be true; it is more important that its falsity can be detected as easily as possible.
Considering the movements of the planets around the sun: the explanation that certain observations did not agree with predictions was not in errors in the theory but in errors in lack of observations.

3.3 Rationality

Popper held that rationality is not restricted to the realm of empirical or scientific theories, but that it is merely a special case of the general method of criticism, the method of finding and eliminating contradictions in knowledge without ad-hoc-measures.
What is the definition of Rationality ?
According to this view, rational discussion about metaphysical ideas, about moral values and even about purposes is possible.
Such a discussion a discussion IMO only makes sense if you start from a set of basic assumptions, we all (involved) agree upon.

3.4 Philosophy of arithmetic

Popper's principle of falsifiability runs into prima facie difficulties when the epistemological status of mathematics is considered.
Mathematics by itself is often very difficult to test because it is most often based on very strict rules. It is the application of mathematics to describe physical phenomena that requires testing.
It is difficult to conceive how simple statements of arithmetic, such as "2 + 2 = 4", could ever be shown to be false.
That is correct. At the same time the mathematical solutions of the best gaming strategies are difficult.

3.5 Political philosophy

In his early years Popper was impressed by Marxism, whether of Communists or socialists.
It is very difficult to discuss Marxism scientifically. What exactly is Marxism?
Specifically, he unsuccessfully recommended that socialists should be invited to participate, and that emphasis should be put on a hierarchy of humanitarian values rather than advocacy of a free market as envisioned by classical liberalism.
If all of this is true is very difficult to test.

3.5.1 The paradox of tolerance

Although Popper was an advocate of toleration, he said that intolerance should not be tolerated, for if tolerance allowed intolerance to succeed completely, tolerance would be threatened.
In order to explain tolerance Popper should not use the word intolerance.
The problem is you cannot tolerate everything. The next problem is to establish what can and what cannot.
Generally speaking you need a government as an overall ruler but not always this is agreed by everyone (right or wrongly).

3.6 Metaphysics

3.6.1 Truth

3.6.2 Cosmological pluralism

3.6.3 Origin and evolution of life

The creation–evolution controversy in the United States raises the issue of whether creationistic ideas may be legitimately called science and whether evolution itself may be legitimately called science.
The question is if creation-evolution is a theory or the Darwin-evolution theory or both.
IMO it can only be one.
If both agree to that you already make progress.
The next step is to define some differences between the two.
Popper says at the beginning of Logic of Scientific Discovery that it is not his aim to define science, and that science can in fact be defined quite arbitrarily.
That is correct.

3.6.4 Free will

3.7 Religion and God

4. Influence

5. Criticism

7. See also

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Created: 4 June 2017

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