Archive for December 20th, 2021

December 20, 2021

Mathematics and science

by Neil Rickert

In his blog post today:

thonyc gives some interesting history on the use of mathematics in science. I found this quite interesting, and it corrects some of my own misunderstandings. Popular books which touch on the history of mathematics tend to gloss over much of the detail.

We tend to see the use of mathematics in science as relatively sudden. But thonyc’s account shows that it was actually more gradual. In a way, that makes a lot of sense and is perhaps what we should have expected.

The experimental method

Discussions of the scientific method usually emphasize the idea of experimental testing. That’s how I was introduced to science in elementary school. Many internet discussions of science emphasize the experimental method. This can be a way of distinguishing between science and religious creationism, because the so-called scientific creationists do not use the kind of experimental testing that we see in science.

In reality, though, experimental testing is not limited to science. A good cook tests her concoctions. A tennis player tests his strokes. Experimental testing is ubiquitous in life, and is better thought of as part of pragmatism. Even a religious creationist tests his ideas by seeing how his intended audience responds to his stories.

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