Monday, June 27, 2005

fact and theory

Moreover, "fact" doesn't mean "absolute certainty"; there ain't no such animal in an exciting and complex world. The final proofs of logic and mathematics flow deductively from stated premises and achieve certainty only because they are not about the empirical world. [...] In science "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent." I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

- Stephen J. Gould, "Evolution as Fact and Theory"; Discover, May 1981

(thanks again yath)

it doesn't get much more concise than that.

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