Vital Signs

Truth and Consequences

Dead white males did not invent the rules of science; they discovered them. These rules enable science, and science alone, to make successful prediction.

And prediction is only evidence acknowledged by science to demonstrate that one is on the trail of the truth. One may, of course, invoke anything one wishes in attempting to come up with a successful scientific claim. If a dose of intuitional astrological foot fetishism helps, fine. But this claim gains no scientific validity until it can successfully make a prediction that does not require allegiance to intuitional astrological foot fetishism.

Prediction is the determinant of scientific truth—and, many believe, the determinant of anything (other than logical and mathematical truth) that can be termed "truth." Prediction plays this role because science holds that "truth" can meaningfully be defined only as the concordance of a claim (a description, hypothesis, theory, or explanation) with nature ("reality"). And only a claim's ability to predict can give us reason to believe that we are nearing truth—as opposed to merely experiencing a powerful, but quite possibly deceptive, feeling that we are nearing truth.

To be sure, there are those who apply the word "truth" to beliefs and moral values, concepts that are not, even in principle, capable of giving us reason to believe that they are more than...

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