Bart @ Ryerson

Posted by Bart Thu, 05 Mar 2009 03:49:00 GMT

In September 2008, I began a Master's Degree in Computer Science at Ryerson University. You can view my Ryerson page here. As a result, this blog has become a bit outdated. But I've been busy, and updates are there, specifically my links page.

My primary area of research is ontologies. Specifically, I'm researching automated ontology mapping through machine learning (video from Standford). The domain I'm currently concentrating on is logical representation of ontologies in first order logic languages. This field is dominated by deductive theorem provers, and inductive logic programming. See Alan Bundy's paper Survey of Automated Deduction

Evolution of Scientific Discovery (a demarcation problem)

Posted by Bart Fri, 21 Sep 2007 02:04:00 GMT

I've been discussing the difference between science and pseudo-science for the last few months with my theology, science, and sociology friends, and we've come up with more questions then answers. This is good news, because that is what good science dictates....

Anywho... I found an interesting article on the status of the "Hobbit" species found several years ago on the Island of Flores. They're about a meter long, and have human like features, except for the fact that they're about a meter long, and don't exhibit any signs of a disease to have stunted their growth. The small size is/was believed to be a necessity of the lack of food (scarcity of resources) on the island they were inhabiting.

I heard humans are adaptive creatures....

Now to my main point. I found this article on the BBC site, which on the side also has any relevant information about the current article. This feature gives the reader a great history of the developing story. This article is a science based one, and shows how the science of this discovery was viewed and reported at each new development. This article has the following trail:

Notice the tone of each sequential news article.

Sorted by date:
  • 'Hobbit' joins human family tree
    - they're just like us.... we've learned so much about ourselves
  • Hobbit was 'not a diseased human'
    - 000 more clues, they're sort of like us, but evolved differently
  • New 'Hobbit' disease link claim
    - they're like us, but diseased... but still like us!
  • More Flores 'Hobbits' described
    - oooo... even more clues... we can start classifying them much better now
  • 'Hobbit' stirs scientific clash
    - scientists argue over the science involved in categorizing the 'Hobbits'... scientific rigor and review
  • Team widens search for 'Hobbits'
    - more research is needed.. and we've learned so much in the process
  • New twist in 'hobbit' human story
    - they had small brains, but were smart enough to make and use tools.. hmm.. interesting... very interesting
  • 'Hobbit' human 'is a new species'
    - they don't fit a formula.. they must be a new species
  • 'Hobbit' wrists 'were primitive'
    - oooo, more clues revealed through empirical evidence: bones, mass, motor skills, pressure, etc

Science by it's nature is open to criticism. It wouldn't be science if it wasn't. It's not exact all the time, but scientists realize it's a work in progress on most days. And if anything is true in the first principle and self-evident, such as

if (true OR false) then true 
then it's true "as far we can tell". And that's true through practice, no metaphysics involved.

The most important thing is that scientists are always willing to say, "this is what we believe", and it's never an absolute truth, unless it's an axiom, as appose to tautology.

To me it comes down to subjective and objective logic. Subjective conclusions are biased. Subjectivity is great for formulating hypotheses, but conclusions require a greater amount of empirical and logical proof; and that proof NEEDS to be objective. Otherwise you're playing politics by consciously pushing an agenda.