Discussion: The Limits of Science


1. Science is limited to what can be tested.

2. Do things exist which can not be tested?

Examine Number 1 above.

– Tell us whether it’s true.

Ask yourself Number 2 above.

– Tell us what you come up with.


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1.  I would like to think that science, as a subject, is without barriers or limitations.  So, in principle, I would have to say statement is false.  Science may be limited to what can be tested.  This is not the same as “science will always be limited to what can be tested.”  While there may be things science currently cannot test, future generations inherit this burden, just as past generations have, and will be expected to rise to the challenge.

2.  Well…I’m assuming this is not a trick question…if a thing “exists” you are stating that it is, if it is then it can be experienced somehow or perceived on some plane of reality.  If that is the case, then I believe some type of test can be constructed.  This, of course, is dependent upon the objective of the test itself.

A question for you – can something that cannot be perceived by normal senses be tested?

John Doe

Statement #1: I think the first statement, is partially true. It is actually a “workable truth”, but if one adopts it as a “full truth”, one has adopted a self-limiting “thought-stopper”.

I’ve seen versions of this statement uttered by smug people. They’ve reduced it all to a neat little thought package with known boundaries.

The reason it is not fully true is that science, properly done, should be always looking for ways to test the untestable.

Here’s an example. Until Galileo, the tools to test theories of the planets were unavailable. Yet science, correctly, did not throw up its hands and say, “We can’t test that.” And we have telescopes today that enable science to test theories that would be inconceivable to the scientists of 300 years ago.

Statement #2: I think this is demonstrably true. The example of “love” is a good one.

Another factor that ties into this is that some things that actually DO exist aren’t even known about, let alone testable, because the tools or technology don’t yet exist to even become aware of them. For example, this was the case for bacteria and sub-atomic particles.

Which poses the interesting question: what kinds of things are all around us now that we aren’t aware of, yet are impacting us daily?