What is it about theories in the human sciences and natural sciences that makes them convincing?

Superseded scientific theories. Fascinating stuff.

Some, actually.

Ok I promise not to bump
Im just trying to spark some conversation.
I think what is convincing about human sciences is the fact that they are open to interpretations, allowing the reader to make up their mind on which theory they are convinced by.

The best way to do that is to expand upon your original post. Conversation is a give and take.

What role do you believe evidence plays in this process? Do you believe that some conclusions in the human sciences are more empirically justified than others? Or does it all boil down to personal whim?

[Sam Beckett]Oh, boy.[/Sam Beckett]
To clarify matters for all, would you mind giving us your definition of “Science”?

Interpretations are open, as long as they account for all known facts. Facts are not open to interpretation.

By human sciences, do you mean things like sociology and anthropology? Things like neurology and cognitive science? Psychology? Aesthetics? Political Science?

By natural sciences do you mean biology and ecology? Physics and chemistry? Astronomy? What would you consider to be unnatrual science? Would studies on ESP be natural? Are human sciences natural? Or does your question really apply to any science at all? I’m going to assume that it does.

Now, when you say wrong but convincing, are you talking about areas of study where there are multiple complex causes for every effect, so that it’s difficult to tease out what cause produces what percentage of what effect? And it’s difficult to be sure that you’ve identified all of the causes?

Or is it perhaps that, since we have a personal identity, and social and political habits, that it’s easy for us to interpret something that agrees with our predispositions or makes us feel good about ourselves as supported by evidence and true, and something that runs counter to our predispositions and makes us feel bad as not supported by evidence and false? Where we would, perhaps, not have a similar emotional bias to a heat transfer experiment?

If your question is about being misled by our emotions, then publishing will allow others to correct for our personal biases, but not for any biases that everyone in the reviewing group shares. The surest way to correct for groupthink is to be sure that your work is reviewed by a broad and diverse group. Since there’s no way to be reviewed by an infinitely broad and infinitely diverse group, there is no way to be sure that there are no unsupported preconcieved notions included in your conclusion.

If your basic question is ‘why have some conclusions been proven wrong later?’, well, you can only be completely sure that you’re right if you never come to a conclusion at all. There is always the possibility that there was something you didn’t know about influencing your experiment or statistical study. But if your work is going to be of any use, you have to put your conclusions out there for other people to test.

You put your work out. You trust current and future researchers to challenge your work. You hope that your conclusions will be good enough to be of use, but expect that they will be refined or replaced later. That’s as good as it gets.

Is this not a Theory of Knowledge question, for IB, that you have to complete alone :dubious: :dubious: :dubious: :dubious:

six months late and a dollar short.

I’m working on my masters in history. Please, let us not confuse history with science. I cannot possibly test any of my historical theories. Therefore, I am not engaging in science. I may have a theory of what happened. “During the 1590s, the number of witches executed in Scotland jumped dramatically because of X, Y and Z.” I can point out the evidence to support my conclusions but I can never put them up to a rigorous scientific test.

Sure you can, if you, or someone else, finds evidence (some previously unread or disregarded document from the time, for instance) that X, Y or Z never actually occurred. Historical theories get disproved by newly discovered evidence all the time, just like scientific ones do.

I doubt whether anyone thinks that history is science in the same sense that physics is, but if science were really adequately defined by the falsifiability test (the bumper sticker version of “the scientific method”), history would indeed be a science.