Reviews for On Scientific Progress
dx713 chapter 1 . 7/24/2011
You kind of lost me here. I like your style and your use of metaphors, but there are things in your text that bug me.

First, a vector is a good metaphor for a direction, but not for a path between two points: because that’s the beauty of a vector, it’s that it doesn’t depend on the points you use to define it. You could have defined it with an infinity of other point pairs.

The second is that while I totally relate to your explanation about the subjectivity of the notion of progress for societies or an individual, for science, I think the vector to project the progress on is quite easy to define. Science aim is to explain the world. So it’s the increase of reliable predictions the theory can make. Each time a theory is debunked, or each time a theory is confirmed by experience, that’s progress.

Now, apply your text to a more general notion of progress, like a whether a scientific advance is progress for the society at large, and then, I can follow you. I’ll have to think more about the exact meaning of your Schrödinger’s cat metaphor (you might want to expand on it a bit more) – but I can follow.

Did you set yourself a length limit, or can you expand that in a second chapter?
Guest chapter 1 . 7/4/2011
Definitely not your usual fare. And as you may have noticed, I'm on a late night reviewing spree. Don't mind me.

Your paragraph and the probability of an event and its effects also reminds me of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Just a little memory from the days of my chemistry classes and quantum mechanics...

I thought this was interesting. You make some interesting points... I'm familiar with all the concepts you used, but I didn't quite understand your definition of "progress" at first. I think I was waiting for a more concrete definition, which as it were, sort of defies the point of this essay.

However, I now understand what's going on, and I feel like your reasoning is pretty sound. I followed your logic pretty well the second time around. I wish I had some suggestions about where exactly things seem shaky if at all.

There were some places you could easily extend this, if wanted to. For example, the validity of certain reference points. That feels like a discussion that could go on as long as one about whether or not there is such a thing as a universal values system.

I tend to shy away from posting essays, but kudos for actually doing it. You certainly are not limited to just poetry!
110Million chapter 1 . 7/1/2011
Yay, I understood what the essay meant, so that must mean I'm smart XD

Really though, a fantastic piece. But I hate anything that brings up Schrodinger's cat. I always feel so sorry for the cat...
RavenclawMoose chapter 1 . 7/1/2011
Interesting essay. Unfortunately, your analogy was a bit hard to follow. From a physics perspective, you sort of melded together a bunch of quantum mechanics things that doesn't necessarily go together quite as neatly as you made it sound. The idea is that certain particles are literally in every possible state until you measure them. The act itself of measuring causes the wavefunction to collapse into a particular state. This idea did not come across very clearly in your explanation.

While it is true that quantization and the probabilistic nature of nature are closely intertwined, it is not quite as simple as you made it sound. Uncertainty arises because you cannot accurately measure both the position and the wavefunction of a particle at the same time. This poses an issue in quantum mechanics because all particles are simultaneously particle and wave.

Still, I do like the metaphor. The way I read it, you are saying that we are simultaneously at every possible point of progress and non-progress, until we define both a starting reference point and an end goal? It's an interesting idea.

RM