The Slightly Disgruntled Scientist

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Post-Positivism

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Originally from a Bad Science post asking about post-positivism…

[Tessa K]: positivism is the view that physical theories should only relate experimentally measurable — or even directly observable — quantities. For example, before the existence of atoms or molecules were verified, molecular theories of thermodynamics are not positivist.

Einstien worked in an environment very much influenced by positivists (like Mach), and you’ll note that his theories are very much oriented around observables (Heisenberg also).

POST-positivism comes after. With the advent of large, collaborative scientific endeavours (such as the Manhattan Project, Hollywood films and ridiculing P.T. Barnum until he made a lot of money), it was necessary to compile authoritative lists of things that could be measured. However, the question of whether the list itself could be experimentally verified to exist caused a great deal of consternation amongst the scientific community, leading to such famous quarrels as Russell’s paradox, the EPR paradox and Feynmann’s infamous “I know you are but what am I?” paradox.

Consequently, the list was split into four parts, each given to four little known physicists who died horrible deaths soon after. It is said that whoever finds and assembles the four parts will see the truth in whatever topic haunts them, shortly before dying a horrible death — making it a perfect present for that kid in the back seat who has just asked “are we there yet?” for the hundredth damn time.

What was the question?

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