O futuro do Darwinismo - e tem futuro???

segunda-feira, agosto 17, 2009

Future Darwinism- Evolution of the Scientific Method
David Tow

The scientific method is recognised as the primary knowledge generator of modern civilisation. Through the rigorous process of verification, applying both inductive and deductive logic, causal relationships governing physical phenomena are defined and tested in the form of models or hypotheses.

David Tow, Director of the Future of Life Research Centre in Sydney Australia, has added a new evolutionary twist to understanding the nature of the Scientific Method.

He believes that the scientific method bears a striking similarity to the larger process of evolution itself and is a subset of that process. The difference is one of complexity and scope. Evolution is a universal generic process of adaptation and optimisation, which selects and amplifies the most appropriate response of a system to its environment. The scientific method is a meta-method or methodology aimed at selecting the most appropriate theory or causal model within an experimental environment.

But the two Tow believes are intimately connected. A greater understanding of the evolutionary nature of the scientific method will lead to an acceleration of the process of new theory discovery, which in turn will accelerate the broader process of evolutionary knowledge discovery.

The original conceptualisation of a hypothesis is often the result of pattern discovery based on intuition, creativity or serendipity. This initial hypothesis is then further experimentally tested and refined against sample data until its predictions can be accurately assessed in relation to real world phenomena and observations. If this matching process fails, the hypothesis will be discarded or radically reworked. If successful, it will continue to undergo verification, in relation to an ever-widening knowledge context.

Karl Popper proposed that all theories should be constantly tested and verified to see if a better theory can be achieved. This recognises that no hypothesis is a perfect formalisation or predictor of future reality. Popper's hypothesis therefore basically restates the evolutionary process.

There is no end to this process. All current major theories, even Relativity and the Standard Model of Quantum Physics, are constantly being optimised, refined and sometimes radically reinterpreted.

The knowledge and wisdom gained from trial and error processing for early hominids was initially passed on to future generations through behaviour mimicking, then by word of mouth after language developed and finally in the form of writing and symbol processing, which has continued through to the present time in a digital form.

At the same time a greater understanding of the cause and effect of natural phenomena emerged through the evolving knowledge structures of science, mathematics and logic. Finally the major scientific breakthroughs of the 17th Century, including newton’s formulation of the laws of mechanics combined with the analytic machinery of calculus mathematics, provided insight into the underlying abstract mechanism at work- the scientific method. This was defined and applied by Newton, Bacon and others.

The key to better understanding the scientific method, is that it is not a single process but a number of sub-processes, which are continually evolving. These processes include- initial conceptual insights, general hypothesis formulation, experimental framework development, data access and capture, analysis of information and evidence extraction, hypothesis modelling based on inferencing logic, algorithmic formulation, experimentation, testing and validation of procedures, hypothesis optimisation and refinement.

Each of these sub-processes within the overall framework of the method is therefore evolving as scientific advances continue.

Over the centuries the tools for data capture, analysis and abstraction have also constantly evolved. For example, improved measurement tools and techniques have extended observational capabilities beyond the senses using the microscope, telescope, imaging equipment and mass spectrometry etc. Also advanced mathematical, statistical and graphical techniques are now routinely applied- amplified during the latter part of the 20th Century by the power of computer processing.

The scientific method was therefore not invented or discovered in its present form, but evolved and continues to evolve, using processes common to all adaptive learning.

Blog link- http://thedarwinblog.blogspot.com