December 11, 2008

Snoopy sez...

It was a dark and stormy night

Lucy is alone in the house. As the wind howls outside the door, Lucy feels her way to the lamp she knows to be on the table. She pulls the chain to switch it on. Nothing happens. Frantically she tries pulling the chain a few more times. Still nothing. Obviously, something sinister was afoot.

With only the faint glow of lightning flashing occasionally through the curtained windows, Lucy feels her way to the cupboard where spare bulbs are stored. She retrieves one and makes her way back to the recalcitrant lamp. In the eerie darkness Lucy unscrews the bulb from the lamp and replaces it with the fresh one from the cupboard.

With bated breath Lucy pulls the lamp chain. Suddenly the room is awash with the welcome, warm glow of light. Lucy smiles as she relaxes in her easy chair to finish that Brad Pitt article in her copy of People Magazine.

End of a silly story, but lets tell it from a slightly different perspective:

1. Lucy observed an event in the real world.

2. Upon reflection and by deduction, Lucy formed an hypothesis: i.e.: the switch is bad.

3. Lucy performed an experiment to test her hypothesis by pulling the switch several times without success, which proved the original hypothesis invalid.

4. Lucy rejected the invalid hypothesis and formed another: i.e.: The bulb is bad.

5. Lucy performed an experiment by replacing the bulb, which worked, proving the new hypothesis valid.

6. Life is good.

Had the light still failed, Lucy could have posed other hypotheses, (faulty wall plug, tripped breakers, Charlie Brown had forgotten to pay the bill, etc.) and performed more experiments until finally solving the problem...

...or perhaps never solving it. Not all problems have easy solutions, and neither is it necessary that they all be immediately solved. It is only necessary that we continue the experiment.

This is the slow, plodding method of deduction and experimentation that has provided us with the great bulk of valid data we call science. That which has not been fully explained by science does not require an answer by superstition. We simply continue the experimentation.

What could be more simple?


MiniKat said...

Ah yes but if Lucy was twelve years of age and in a room with her sleepover friends, do you think the same use of logic would occur? ;-)

Welcome to the blog world. :-)

Rogue Medic said...

I was wondering how long it would take you to start blogging. Your blog is a welcome addition to the the list of must reads.

I like the approach to science.

A crusty old phart... said...

Unlike some I've failed to con publishers into paying for my missives, so I needed a venue to dump the stuff. This will work.

Very proud to have y'all visit my little effort.

Wai said...

The hypothesis of a bad switch is plausible only if one could discern where the fault in the switch lies. A bad switch is a bad switch no matter how many times the chain is pulled. Lucy lucked out when it was only the bulb that was bad. If the replacement bulb had not lit up when she pulled the chain, then she must go back to her first hypothesis that the switch might still be the culprit. Or try another bulb because the first replacement bulb might be back as well. But when all else fails, she might have tucked herself under her blanket and waited out the storm. Twelves years old...she wouldn't be home alone anyway.

Anonymous said...

It's bated breath...or is Lucy fishing?

Tom and Marsha said...

Welcome to blogging. Its great to see you have joined the rest of us in the world of speak easy. I am enjoying your writing, and have much to challenge you on. but that is for another day.