National Collegiate Honors Council


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UReCA: The NCHC Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity:


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In "Science: Conjectures and Refutations," Karl Popper establishes a criterion for the scientific character or status of a theory: its falsifiability. And in one move, he turns a host of common scientific postulates—like the Ideal Gas Law, the Law of Conservation of Mass, Newton's First Law, and the Theory of Evolution—into "metaphysical research programs" whose nature renders them impossible to disprove though observable experiment ("Natural Selection and the Emergence of Mind"). According to Popper, the nature of such postulates transcend the physical world; making them just as unfalsifiable as a spiritual power, or a god. In this way, they concern belief rather than reality, and thus he does not deem them scientific because their credibility is predicated on an inherent faith in the theory’s accuracy. However, despite Popper's assertion, scientists continue to use these respective laws and theories. And thus, assuming that Popper's claim is valid, what he would call "metaphysical research" permeates science today.