But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.”(Acts 8:9-10) NKJV
One of the ways that popular science (SciPop) attempts to be rigorous and hold itself accountable is through use of something called the scientific method. It’s a systematic approach to investigation.
It’s also a philosophical framework that requires that all hypotheses have to be ideas which can be tested through experimentation in such a way that multiple independent researchers can repeat the experiment and get the same result. This is where peer review comes in. Through extensive experimentation and testing only those hypotheses that withstand the intense scrutiny of peer review are accepted as fact by the scientific community, supposedly. Here’s a definition of hypothesis:
A hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. For a hypothesis to be a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can test it.– Hypothesis, definition
Karl Popper was one of the architects of the scientific method. He and others were sick and tired of Victorian Era polemics who expounded what they called “science” but which was poorly sourced anecdotal evidence.
Incidentally Charles Darwin fits this category. If you read Darwin’s “on the origin of species” you’ll quickly realize that it’s a rambling diatribe of anecdotal evidence which has no basis in science. Here’s the thing: It was what the people’s itching ears wanted to hear, a plausible narrative around the premise that there is no God. Darwin foresaw the Hawking effect:
The Scientific Method Post Hawking
- If it’s plausible it’s possible.
- If it’s possible it happened.
- It has to have happened because we exist.
- The chances of us existing are so remotely tiny that our existence proves our hypothesis (whatever it is).
What Popper and his peers thought science needed was a rigorously constructed logical process where blowhards could be exposed as frauds and real information would prevail. This sounds great, right? After all we need a scientific community that’s dedicated to standards and accountability.
That was sublime subtlety. Popper and others were able to construct a system of scientific accountability which would make finding the truth impossible either as a premise or as a conclusion.