I have my interpretations of Karl Poppers work and definition of falsifiability (see also: Falsificationism) but independent of my opinions and impressions on the subject matter I have found, more often than not, somebody force feeding me this statement which, for the sake of further discussion, I label Statement F:
"A statement that is not falsifiable is not scientific"
To which I retort, “Can we apply this statement to itself in a recursive manner?” I am then, asked, “Why would you want to do that?” And I answer, “To see if the statement you proposed is scientific?”
Till date, I have come across only one professor, who, after carelessly hurling Statement F at me and subsequently receiving my retort, immediately realized that he should not even try to attempt this exercise and hopefully he has stopped saying that sentence to people. The rest of the people I have put this across to, have conveniently fallen into the recursive chore. (See: recursion)
So how do we apply Statement F to Statement F ?
We need to find at least one such statement that is scientific and yet, not falsifiable. If we are unable to do so, Statement F gets labeled – “not scientific”. Should it? Is that really the correct methodology of falsification? Could it merely be our ineptitude in not being able to find a statement that is scientific and not falsifiable that makes us believe that Statement F is indeed not falsifiable and thus, not scientific? Isn’t the researcher’s ineptitude or incompetence in the use of verification or falsification as research strategies an inherent problem? How would anybody avoid that inherent problem? Would we need to assert some other statement that defines “scientific statements” in order to figure out whether Statement F is scientific? Shouldn’t we then use that other definition by default instead of Statement F ?
Instead of directly indulging into this exercise of applying Statement F to itself, let us consider what could be done in case Statement F were found to be scientific as per Statement F and then the case where it were labeled unscientific as per Statement F.
In case it were labeled scientific we could retain it as a criterion for demarcating scientific vs not scientific and continue to indoctrinate every “scientist” with this view of what is or isn’t scientific. But, what would we do with the set of statements that were found to be scientific and not falsifiable. Clearly, that set would never be successfully classified as not scientific by the use of Statement F as a criterion for demarcation! Ballocks!
Ok, so what about the case where Statement F were labeled unscientific? Would we still retain it as a criterion for classifying what is or isn’t scientific? Clearly, nobody should commence a scientific inquiry with a preconceived notion like Statement F which were known to be intrinsically unscientific! Ballocks again!
After going through the above discussion a student with a masters degree in philosophy noted that the notion, “a statement must be falsifiable in order to be scientific” is indeed a philosophical view point and not a law so its nature, in terms of being scientific or not, must be ignored to avoid suffering a conundrum.
So the conclusion is: It is very easy to screw with Popperians and to do so it quite rightful!
PS: In case you clicked on the link for “recursion” can you please comment bellow, telling me how many times you continued to click on “Did you mean: recursion“