Chapter 1. Explaining prediction.

I’ve trained to be an engineer. And practiced being one.
Then I felt the need to understand. And studied sociology.
That’s how I learned, the hard way, the difference between ‘hard’ science and ‘soft’ science.
Between ‘bona fide’ science and ‘bogus’ science…

Those of us still convinced that soft science is bogus have yet to grasp the whole meaning of ‘science’.
A collection of ‘special’ data, a ‘special’ method of gathering data and a ‘special’ state of mind.

We all know what ‘scientific data’ and ‘scientific method’ mean.
But there is almost no talk about ‘scientific state of mind’.
Most people consider that ‘scientific thinking’ is solelly about applying the scientific method when dealing with the ‘reality’. With what happens ‘outside’ of us.
Outside of our individual consciences…

Historically, science – the concept of science, had sprung up in the minds of people concerned primarily with physics and chemistry.
Hence the subsidiary concept of ‘consistency’.
Data can be considered to be scientific only if it had been gathered in a ‘consistent’ manner.
If by applying the same method, in the same circumstances, the end results will be the same – regardless of who had happened to be at the helm of the experiment.
And a method can be considered to be scientific only if it produces the same data whenever it is applyed, in the same circumstances, by no matter whom.

I’m sure that, by now, at least some of you have figured out what I’m driving at.
The main difference between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ science is, of course, related to the relative inconsistency of the data yielded by the ‘soft’ sciences. This being the reason for which some people cannot even accept the ‘scientific’ nature of the soft sciences…

Hence the need to discuss about the ‘scientific’ ‘state of mind’…
Let me start by pointing out the fact that we, people, are rationalizers.
We pretend to be rational, true, but in reality we are nothing but very astute rationalizers.
So astute that we are not even aware of the fact.
We are so convinced of our rational nature that we are fooling ourselves.

Please read about this subject by hitting the link below if you are not familiar with the concept of rationalization before proceeding.
https://cushmanlab.fas.harvard.edu/docs/rationalization_is_rational.pdf

Accepting that we are deep enough into rationalization that we need to pay special attention when trying to be objective is the first step towards attaining a scientific state of mind.
The second, and just as important, step being the respect we need to extend towards our peers. Towards our fellow experimenters.

Changing tack – and approaching ‘scientific state of mind’ from another angle, I might try to describe it as a ‘work in progress’.
A never ending attempt at self improvement made by someone fully aware of the fact that they’ll never get there. Yet still striving towards that goal.
A never ending attempt made by somebody who knows they’ll never get ‘there’ yet they continue to encourage others to go further and further up that road.
A never ending attempt made by people who know they’ll never get there yet they respectfully help each-other towards their common goal.

And now, that I’ve done my best to explain what I mean by ‘scientific state of mind’ let me delve in the main subject.
The real difference between soft and hard science.

By their very nature, hard sciences are defined by the fact that an explanation constitutes a very good prediction.
If you are capable of explaining the Earth rotation around the Sun you are also able to compute where the Earth will be 10 seconds from now. As well as ten centuries from now…
If you are capable of explaining radio-activity you are also able to build an atomic bomb.
By understanding how DNA works we have been able to come up with a mRNA vaccine against the SarsCOV-2 virus.
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html

The problem with soft sciences being that in their case, explanations – no matter how precise, cannot predict much.
We know why a maniac behaves like one – because …, but we don’t know what a maniac will actually do. Nor when…
We know that a free market works better than a monopoly but we cannot agree upon how free a market should be. Nor can we agree upon what a ‘free market’ really looks like…
We know what will eventually happen to an empire – it will fall, because of ‘negative selection’, but we never know exactly when and how that will happen… nor what will occur between the establishment of the empire and its eventual demise.

Savvy?