Karl Popper Vs. The Demarcation Problem

Karl Popper Vs. The Demarcation Problem

Karl Popper once made a valiant effort to logically define the limits of science, but failed. Here's why.

Karl Popper’s falsification criterion for determining the difference between science and pseudoscience (also called fake science) is insufficient as a solution to the demarcation problem: the problem of determining what is and isn't science, because it does not rule out pseudosciences like astrology from being considered.

One objection to this argument is that Popper’s theory actually does rule out astrology as a pseudoscience, rather than a science. Since eventually pseudosciences will have to resort to ad hoc explanations for their mistakes, whereas sciences make claims that are either falsified or at the very least falsifiable. An example of science is the theory of planetary gravitational orbits, which was subjected to testing when calculations appeared to go wrong. If this test had been falsified, then science would have had to mark potentially the entire scientific paradigm that it existed false. On the other hand, astrologers will never shift their entire paradigm. Instead, they will simply continue to explain away their inaccurate ideas until falsification becomes impossible.

This objection must be responded to by pointing out that it is not always true. Sometimes, what many would consider pseudoscience does make radical changes to its core beliefs based on falsification. A new sign was added to astrology, for example, in response to tests concerning the future and the rotation of the planet on its axis. Alternatively, at times science and the scientific community that practices, it seems unwilling to change in the face of falsification. For a long time, scientists stubbornly refused to believe that x-rays were harmful to pregnant women and their babies, because the person who made this discovery, Dr. Alice Stewart, was a woman. Eventually, her work did convince other scientists to believe rightly that x-rays could be dangerous, but this was not so much in response to the falsification of their previous theories. It was in response to other pressures, and it took years for her data to be accepted in the scientific community.

As such, it can be seen that although appearances may point to its correctness at times, Karl Popper’s falsification criterion is lacking as a solution to the demarcation problem, because it does not truly define science or pseudoscience at all times.

Cover Image Credit: Saima Meditation

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything

I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

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Five Tips to Get on Top of Your 2019: Tech Editions

Yeah, there's an app for that.


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Google Calendar.

Look at that beauty.

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Google Doc File Folders


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Momentum Chrome Extension

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