måndag 23 juli 2012
Feynman's Logical Fallacy
This clip shows that even Richard Feynman has fallen into the trap of the logical fallacy of confirming a hypothesis by observing consequences of the hypothesis. Or rather the other way around: Feynman in the role of the great scientist takes a firm grip of the audience by the trivial information that if a consequence of the hypothesis is at variance with observation, then something must be wrong with the hypothesis. But by lifting this triviality to a deep insight by a great scientist, Feynman opens to the fallacy of confirming a hypothesis by observing consequences.
Feynman thrills the audience by revealing that a physicist starts out by simply guessing a law/hypothesis (which makes the audience laugh) and then seeks confirmation by observing consequences. Feynman does not say that a physicist starts by giving some direct rational reason why the hypothesis should hold. Simply guessing is the physicists method. No wonder that modern physics is so strange.
A longer clip is here. Feynman continues with a discussion about preferring hypotheses which are more likely, that is hypotheses with some rationality and not just wild guesses as he started out with. Feynman thus blurs a most essential aspect of science and causes confusing rather than enlightenment.