Scientific Proof Is A Myth
“Proofs are mathematical entities: you start with a set of postulates, things that you begin with as givens. From those postulates, you take simple, straightforward steps, obeying the laws and rules of the system that you began with. As you progress, you can build up more and more complex rules, tease out intricate behavior, and axiomatically prove what will and won’t happen.
In science, at its best, the process is very similar, but with a caveat: you never know when your postulates, rules, or logical steps will suddenly cease to describe the Universe. You never know when your assumptions will suddenly become invalid. And you never know whether the rules you successfully applied for situations A, B, and C will successfully apply for situation D.”
Science gives us a great and powerful way to learn so much about the world. We can test things out, find a range of validity to our theories, make predictions and verify them, and increase our understanding of nature, the world, and the Universe, exactly as it is. We often say that science has “proven” a great many things — I say it too
— but it isn’t true. All science can do is validate, confirm, and provide evidence that something is consistent with an idea or hypothesis being correct. But proof is another matter entirely, and something forever beyond what science is capable of. You can always prove that something is true given a framework and a set of rules, but you can never know when the rules you assumed will fail to apply to the situation you’ve newly encountered. However, don’t make the mistake of saying that just because there’s no such thing as scientific proof, we can’t know anything.
On the contrary, science is the greatest toolkit we have to gain actual, factual knowledge about the world we inhabit. While science can never prove anything, it can teach us more than, arguably, anything else. Read on to find out what it all means!