X-Message-Number: 8233
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 12:24:51 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Perry E. Metzger" <>
Subject: Falsifyability

> From: Mike Perry <>
> The recent discussion on simulation, etc. has raised the issue of 
> whether non-falsifiable hypotheses should be taken seriously, with 
> the suggestion that since they are untestable they should not. But I 
> think this is not true of all non-falsifiables. For instance, 
> the day-person hypothesis (that we become a new person every time
> we wake up from unconsciousness) is not falsifiable, yet it makes a 
> difference whether we accept it or not.

Mike, I think you have PROVEN my point.

For instance, you would behave very differently if you believed in the
divinity of Jesus Christ versus being an atheist. HOWEVER, this is by
definition a religious question.

It is true that one's non-falsifyable beliefs change one's behavior --
but is that science, or religion, at work?

The "day-person hypothesis" is just such a quasi-religious belief
system. Sure, whether you believe it changes your behavior -- but do
you have any reason to declare this a non-religious question?

If a hypothesis is not falsifyable by any conceivable means --
especially when they hypothesis has as part of its statement the
notion that it cannot be proven by any conceivable means
(i.e. Searle's hypothesis about consciousness, or the statement "God's
existance must be taken on faith and seeking proof is heretical") then
we are certainly talking religion, not science.


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