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Mathematics As A Subjective Tool?

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Posted by Mario Dovalina on May 23, 2003 00:26:09 UTC

Hi, Tim:

~~"a scientist can use mathematics any way he sees fit... scientific progress has often been achieved in loose and capricious fashion"~~

I'm a bit curious as to your reasoning behind this.... perhaps mathematics can be used to express any arbitrary relation, but to make the mathematics fit observed data to create a workable mathematical model of some phenomenon, math certainly cannot be used in any way seen fit.

Scienctific progress has often been achieved through accidents, absolutely. Most of the more interesting leaps in knowledge have occured through mistakes, I would argue. However, is this reason enough to call science loose and capricious? Absolutely not. Science's reaction to unexpected observables is what determines whether the progress is capricious or not, not the observables on their own. As long as the surprise (i.e. penicillin) is taken in stride and analyzed in an objective manner, there is no grounds to call science loose.

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