Whatever normative virtues one might think Popper’s account of science has it’s quite funny that 3 of his main prongs:
1. Falsifiability
2. Conjectures & refutations and
3. The inability to predict knowledge

Are all flatly & patently false as accounts of science
1. Falsifiability
A. As an account of individual scientific cognition it’s flatly false, humans use confirmatory, holistic and, for better or worse, often approximately Bayesian or Hebbian reasoning styles
B. As an account of the history of science, it is false because
i. Institutionally, organizationally & methodologically it’s not followed
ii. As a counterfactual, had it been followed many of the examples of science Popper names would have been rejected
C. As a method, it’s practically, instrumentally, computationally & empirically intractable, unworldly, inaccurate & unproductive

D. Empirically it fails to explain OR predict scientific behavior, the discovery or acceptance of scientific theories & scientific success
E. Only as an account of the way scientists and their defenders explain their behavior & theories post hoc especially politically, diciplinarily & justificatorily does it have any explanatory value, but that’s like saying self deceit is productive
2. Conjectures & refutations
While very similar to falsifiability, and all the objections to that applying here too, it also should be said that such an account is referentially inert
A. Science consists in practices, behaviors, methods, discourses, texts, experiments, explanations, technologies, tools, norms, institutions & tacit knowledge, none of which is covered by C& J
B. Even as an account of the idealized work of science, the idea that it proceeds in such a cognitivist & discursive manner is flatly false, and, as a normative framework, would stifle creativity, generativity, consistency, parsimony & pedagogy
C. What’s worse, the nature of know how, interestedness, tacit knowledge, rule following & so on, means that logically in principle (due to pragmatics), computationally in substance (due to info loss) & instrumentally in practice forecloses its usefulness & accuracy intrinsically
D. The nature of causal, experimental & logical regresses combined w the intrinsic costs & constraints of time, space, energy, attention, computation, resources, complexity & so on make it a dead end even under idealized circumstances
3. The inability to predict knowledge, which, with the open systems and three worlds account to which it is wed, forms the basis of Poppers rejection of social science
A. First of all, if the inability to predict future knowledge undercut social science it would undercut natural science too, unless one claims that once discovered a scientific truth will never be upended but that contradicts the very falsification criteria it relies on!
B. It presupposes a kind of complexity & emergence which is found throughout all systems including in physical, chemical, biological & other such systems
C. Related to both of these, it basically argues historicity obviates facticity but this, again, would apply to natural sciences dependent on initial conditions as well as the scientific process itself
D. While Popper admits this for cosmology, biology & science itself, he, in effect says ‘everything can be explained by scientists, who are social, living, historical beings, & science, EXCEPT life, sociality, history and science itself’ !
E. As an empirical fact it is wrong, there are computational, empirical, historical, analytic, economic, cognitive & ethnographic models, methods and results that *can* predict future knowledge
i. One can predict w some robust accuracy & precision what individuals will accept as true
ii. One can retroactively explain with robust accuracy & precision why & what scientists accepted as true w/o falling for the historiograpgic fallacy (i.e. assuming ‘as if’
iii. One can both explain & predict with robust accuracy & precision what scientists & scientific institutions will focus on, who will get cited, who will get funded, the path they will take, their specific biases, and the proliferation of knowledge
iv. But if those 3 seem like cheating, which a Popperian would say they are (altho that’s inconsistent for the first one), as a fact future results can be predicted with accuracy as well, as in what scientists & others WILL discover
iv (cont). Indeed, if Poppers model of science is correct esp. re ad hoc-ness, or if Lakatos’ programmes or Kuhn’s normal science claims are true, this actually *follows* necessarily
iv cont. There are 2 glosses here though:
1. One is logical, if either a Kantian or Popperian frame is true then one can know what one will discover bc it logically follows, whether this counts as genuine discovery depends if you think synthetic a prioris exist
(Does the fact that most mathematics is tautological within ZFC mean that we know all new math results bc they are entailed? Is proof a heuristic sham, and not a real generator of knowledge? What to make of Reverse Mathematics as Zalamea points out then or statistics or comp ?)
2. The other gloss is that in Kuhn or Lakatos it would follow bc programmes or paradigms generate their own conclusions, albeit subject to controversies, complexities and ad hoc extensions
3. The final gloss is that the one exception, which is what Kuhn calls revolutionary science & paradigm shifts or Latour 'matters of concern' forecloses such epistemic prediction because of its relative/contextual/culturally laden/constructed nature
i.e. if Popper's claims about the inability to predict knowledge were true, it would only be because science works exactly the opposite of the way he claims it does. Ironically, science does work differently than what he says, but epistemic prediction is still possible
Anyway, some further thots:
1. Poppers account of science fails empirically, predictively, analytically & normatively but it has had great traction as a folk explanation by scientists themselves and in popular discourses, tho no longer in philosophy of science for the most part
2. Lakatos account is accurate when it comes to how disciplines approach issues and change over time. While Andrew Abbott's account of the genesis, structure & spread of disciplines is probably the most accurate one we have.
3. Kuhn's account is good at explaining the pace of science, the funding of science, and the history of science as it looks from the position of historiographic ignorance, but it doesn't explain individual scientific strategies or the diversity, change & robustness of science
4. Bourdieu's framework is the best explanation of individual & interactive scientific research strategies, which combined with Knorr Cetina's concept of epistemic cultures, is the best we have of this.
5. As I said Bayesian, Hebbian & explanatorily holistic accounts are the best accounts of individual scientific cognition, but this doesn't grant us much traction, and the normative, philosophical & institutional implications of the above are quite limited
6. Polanyi, Harry Collins, Jason Stanley and others are the best (often totally inadvertently) at explaining scientific prestige, know-how, the dialectic of interest & experience, the nature of replicability & regress, and the nature of expertise
7. Latour & Callon give the best explanations of the technologies, controversies, discourses, citations, coalitions, translations & circulations of scientific knowledge, methods, labs, practices, instruments, discourses, and texts.
8. Merton is best at explaining the institutional & organizational culture of science, but he, with Popper, Lakatos, and Kuhn, are all trapped in a similar internalist & absolutist framework, at the end of the day, which limits their usefulness to the diversity of the world
9. For their specific areas of issue, Feminists & Queer Theorists on gender & sexuality, Critical Race on race, Postcolonial on Eurocentrism & imperialism, Marxian (with some HUGE caveats) on class, interest, corporate science etc, they are the best at their explanations
10. Similarly a broad deflationist account that shares features with all of the above, including the diverse works of Ivan Illich, Thorstein Veblen, James Scott, Michel Foucault, Thomas Szazz, RD Laing, Donald Mackenzie, etc, are good at explaining the relation of science & power
11. Related to the above, I find Jasanoff & Ezrahi to be illuminating on the relation of science to democracy & policy, Feenberg & Winner passable on technology, Shapin, Bloor, Galison, Daston, Healy & Fourcade to be excellent on internal normative criteria, etc.
12. When it comes to the philosophy of science I am torn asunder in my preferences, on the one hand I really like Ross, Kincaid, French, Wallace, Deutsch, Ladyman, Cartwright, etc, on the other hand, I like a lot of Continental work exactly the above's opposite
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