The Truth

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. Part of the problem that many people have is that they have a fundamental misunderstanding of what science and the scientific method is trying to do. There is this notion that science is the search for The Truth®. That’s simply not the case. Science is nothing more than our attempt to understand how the natural world works. That’s all. Nothing more. Unfortunately I think even a lot of scientists forget this, in part because science has been so effective that it’s easy to become overconfident.

Science deals only with what is in some way verifiable. No matter how awesome an idea is, if you can’t verify it in some way shape or form, it’s useless to science. String Theory is a perfect example of this. It’s an awesome theory that elegantly explains a lot of what we see in our universe, and hints at a lot more that we don’t see. Many if not most things explained by current theories are explained by String Theory, in many cases more simply, and it explains many other things that aren’t currently explained by any known theory. It’s everything that scientists love to see in a theory. It is very nearly perfect, except for one crucial detail.

There’s currently no way to verify it.

The predictions of string theory differ from current theory only at scales and energy levels that are unreachable now and for the foreseeable future. As awesome as the theory is in so many ways it is now recognized by most of the scientific community as essentially useless, and it has been abandoned by many for that simple reason. Those scientists who are continuing to work on it are trying desperately to eek out some method by which it could be even potentially falsified.

It looks and acts like science in many fundamental ways, but for now it simply isn’t science because it simply isn’t verifiable.

To summarize my point: Science is not a search for The Truth®. Science is a search for a very narrow subset of the truth known as The Verifiable Truth®. No, less than that it’s a search The Reasonably Verifiable Truth®. Actually, even less than that, it’s a search for The Minimally Verifiable Truth®.