Educating The Public About Science

Hannah Dvorak DvorakH at
Thu May 25 18:20:32 EST 1995

[much deleted]
> What does 'truth-functional' mean. I am using it in the sense that any 
> first order logical statement is truth-functional. That is, the  ANDs, 
> ORs,  NOTs, IF-THENs, EQUIVALENTS and quantifiers are used in  such  a 
> way  that  the statements are TRUE or FALSE, not ambiguous,  and  free 
> from  Intensional terms which lead to ambiguity. That is the  sort  of 
> language  which  scientists use when writing  papers  or  constructing 
> theories,  ie statements which are testable. 

gee, and I always thought the language most scientists wrote papers in was
English, which is a natural language, last time I checked. :)

>                                              Natural language  on  the 
> other  hand is full of idioms which are non truth-functional, and  the 
> notion of truth and falsehood are (technically) impossible to  define, 
> hence  all  the rhetoric. For an elaboration, see  Quine  (1992)  'The 
> Pursuit of Truth', or Quine (1966) 'The Scope and Language of Science' 
> in 'The Ways of Paradox and Other Essays'.

Seriously, though, I'm afraid I still don't see the problem.  I don't see
why it should be difficult to explain to the average person the importance
of rigour, clarity of definitions, etc. in formulating a research
problem.  (Maybe I just don't know any average people.)  All the more
reason for good science education at the elementary and high school
levels, before people are old enough to vote and thus affect science

- Hannah Dvorak

Hannah Dvorak                           |
DvorakH at           |
Division of Biology 156-29              | Ceci n'est pas un .sig.
California Institute of Technology      |
Pasadena, CA 91125                      |

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