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  1. #1
    Writing... Tamske's Avatar
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    Default What is a scientific theory?

    This thread is a reaction on the "MBTI is not scientific anyway" these I've encountered more than once.

    So, when is a theory "scientific"? I'll start with a cartoon:



    Of course, math is purest. It's a very beautiful field full of the abstract ideas we NeTi users love . There is a flip side to the coin of purity: math doesn't describe the outside reality. For that, you have to contaminate the perfect abstract-idea world with observations. I'm a physicist. Physics is a description of reality - and you need to distinguish between description and law or morality. (It's in our nature to be racistic, but that observation doesn't mean I approve racism. Just to be clear: I don't.)

    Now about MBTI.
    There are differences between people. People have different characters. I want a language to describe them. I want to group them. I want to seek some patterns. If you do some statistics, you'll find nice Bell curves for all the dichotomies. Bell curves. Not peaks. That means the dichotomies do describe differences.
    Perhaps you'll find Bell curves for any dichotomy you can devise. But we're dealing with humans here. I don't think you can do anything better than this.
    But even while you can't find hard-and-fast laws ("All ESFPs are dumb" isn't true while "All electrons are repulsed by each other" is.), it's a consistent theory and it does describe reality.

    You've got to know the limits of the theory, of course. But even physics has its limits. In superconducting metals, electrons travel in twosomes.

    Edit: to credit the creator of that nice cartoon. Randall Munroe - see more on xkcd: Campfire.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tamske View Post
    This thread is a reaction on the "MBTI is not scientific anyway" these I've encountered more than once.

    So, when is a theory "scientific"? I'll start with a cartoon:



    Of course, math is purest. It's a very beautiful field full of the abstract ideas we NeTi users love . There is a flip side to the coin of purity: math doesn't describe the outside reality. For that, you have to contaminate the perfect abstract-idea world with observations. I'm a physicist. Physics is a description of reality - and you need to distinguish between description and law or morality. (It's in our nature to be racistic, but that observation doesn't mean I approve racism. Just to be clear: I don't.)

    Now about MBTI.
    There are differences between people. People have different characters. I want a language to describe them. I want to group them. I want to seek some patterns. If you do some statistics, you'll find nice Bell curves for all the dichotomies. Bell curves. Not peaks. That means the dichotomies do describe differences.
    Perhaps you'll find Bell curves for any dichotomy you can devise. But we're dealing with humans here. I don't think you can do anything better than this.
    But even while you can't find hard-and-fast laws ("All ESFPs are dumb" isn't true while "All electrons are repulsed by each other" is.), it's a consistent theory and it does describe reality.

    You've got to know the limits of the theory, of course. But even physics has its limits. In superconducting metals, electrons travel in twosomes.

    Edit: to credit the creator of that nice cartoon. Randall Munroe - see more on xkcd: Campfire.
    A scientific theory is not proved wrong.

  3. #3
    resonance entropie's Avatar
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    Funny cartoon and we had this discussion once at another place but nobody really liked to discuss it with me back then .

    Since I am no native speaker, I'll speak for myself, in german the word science means Wissenschaft, what means loosely translated "to produce knowledge". The term knowledge dates back to the time of enlightenment and is the opposition to belief.

    That means knowledge is everything that is not belief and vice versa.

    It's a common mistake people make if they criticize religious people for believing in a God, whose existance is not proveable or not to be known. The key difference to the understanding of every religious / scientific idea is whether one knowns if a thing exists or whether one belives a thing exists.

    One may not confuse that for example if researchers believe a thing exists but dont know it yet that they are believers. Being a believer means to accept that ones cause of belief stands without explanation. Meaning belief is about belief and gets stronger with deeper belief not with proven or disproven facts.

    Many rational people ask themselves why for example church people do believe so hard in theories or ideologies that have been disproven for century. Those supposingly rational people fail to understand the power of belief. The funny thing is the more a society shifts into the mindset of thinking of themselves to be rationals, the more they are subjected to becoming believers. The rational world is a kinda boring construct and does not suffice for many people to live this kinda unspectacular or boring life. So without noticing, even rational hardliners can turn into believers.

    In my opinion, science is everything that does produce knowledge and that certain knowledge is the knowledge one thinks of to be the truth. Science does require to be proveable in my opinion everything else falls under philosophy or observation in my opinion.

    MBTI is no science to me, not by a long shot. Its not even an observation or a study to me. It's a personal interpretation of reality a person had and maybe can be considered a philosophy.

    I personally still think of the mbti to be to limiting and all things considered, characterless in the end. ( now comes the point I prey on americans again ) Since the american society is still very rooted in religious beliefes and due to the opposition modern society is: which is in modern society without a religion, people are supposed to find a purpose to belief in for themselves, which can take them on rather stony paths; due to all of that there's a perfect culture medium for things like the mbti to emerge.

    If you think about how old the theory mbti is, really is, dating back to Jung and such, you have your scientific proof that certain developments in society obvisouly were necessary to make it possible for the theory to emerge and to be listened to by the people of today.

    So alone in that, it cant be a scientific theory because in comparison the sun was always a sphere, no matter in what century you looked at it. While the mbti even uses a system of functions that is maybe important in America, like j / p which means to be able to make decisions or not be able to make decisions ( which is a word "decision" I have never used to characterize a person in german and no other german uses it aswell ).

    That's at least my personal opinion and I can advise you just one more time, to not meet every new person in your life with the mbti test in the back of your head. That will just make you larger than life to a point on which you finally in the end, loose all connections to real world interactions and real world people.
    [URL]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEBvftJUwDw&t=0s[/URL]

  4. #4
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by entropie View Post
    Funny cartoon and we had this discussion once at another place but nobody really liked to discuss it with me back then .

    Since I am no native speaker, I'll speak for myself, in german the word science means Wissenschaft, what means loosely translated "to produce knowledge". The term knowledge dates back to the time of enlightenment and is the opposition to belief.

    That means knowledge is everything that is not belief and vice versa.

    It's a common mistake people make if they criticize religious people for believing in a God, whose existance is not proveable or not to be known. The key difference to the understanding of every religious / scientific idea is whether one knowns if a thing exists or whether one belives a thing exists.

    One may not confuse that for example if researchers believe a thing exists but dont know it yet that they are believers. Being a believer means to accept that ones cause of belief stands without explanation. Meaning belief is about belief and gets stronger with deeper belief not with proven or disproven facts.

    Many rational people ask themselves why for example church people do believe so hard in theories or ideologies that have been disproven for century. Those supposingly rational people fail to understand the power of belief. The funny thing is the more a society shifts into the mindset of thinking of themselves to be rationals, the more they are subjected to becoming believers. The rational world is a kinda boring construct and does not suffice for many people to live this kinda unspectacular or boring life. So without noticing, even rational hardliners can turn into believers.

    In my opinion, science is everything that does produce knowledge and that certain knowledge is the knowledge one thinks of to be the truth. Science does require to be proveable in my opinion everything else falls under philosophy or observation in my opinion.

    MBTI is no science to me, not by a long shot. Its not even an observation or a study to me. It's a personal interpretation of reality a person had and maybe can be considered a philosophy.

    I personally still think of the mbti to be to limiting and all things considered, characterless in the end. ( now comes the point I prey on americans again ) Since the american society is still very rooted in religious beliefes and due to the opposition modern society is: which is in modern society without a religion, people are supposed to find a purpose to belief in for themselves, which can take them on rather stony paths; due to all of that there's a perfect culture medium for things like the mbti to emerge.

    If you think about how old the theory mbti is, really is, dating back to Jung and such, you have your scientific proof that certain developments in society obvisouly were necessary to make it possible for the theory to emerge and to be listened to by the people of today.

    So alone in that, it cant be a scientific theory because in comparison the sun was always a sphere, no matter in what century you looked at it. While the mbti even uses a system of functions that is maybe important in America, like j / p which means to be able to make decisions or not be able to make decisions ( which is a word "decision" I have never used to characterize a person in german and no other german uses it aswell ).

    That's at least my personal opinion and I can advise you just one more time, to not meet every new person in your life with the mbti test in the back of your head. That will just make you larger than life to a point on which you finally in the end, loose all connections to real world interactions and real world people.
    Schaft is creation. Wissen is illumination.
    Wissenschaft is understanding. It is not knowledge.

  5. #5
    resonance entropie's Avatar
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    Your PoV, I accept

    tho doesnt change that illumination is Erleuchtung, Wissen is knowledge, Schaft is an adverbial construction from Schaffen, which is to create and understanding is Verstehen.

    To advocate science as understanding, well.. if you need
    [URL]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEBvftJUwDw&t=0s[/URL]

  6. #6
    Writing... Tamske's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wildcat View Post
    A scientific theory is not proved wrong.
    So first: what does the MBTI say exactly?
    What about it is proven wrong? By which experiment?
    Because, you see, it does the thing it claims it does, which is describing characters.

    Newton's theory about mechanics is wrong, too. Experiments either with small particles, with fast objects or with heavy objects contradict it.
    But it's right enough - close enough to observation - to use in everyday situations such as driving a car(*) or sending a rocket to the moon(**).

    (*) unless you use GPS, which needs relativity.
    (**) the error on the path will be around one centimetre, which wouldn't make you miss the Moon.
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  7. #7
    resonance entropie's Avatar
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    Newtons theory about mechanics isnt wrong. It is part of classical physics or newtonian physics, while the other field is quantum physics and the two are not combined yet.

    Newtons physics is an image of reality, like math, its composed from observation and is meant as a tool, like math, to interact with reality or whatever you want to call it.

    mbti is an image of reality aswell, but its from a pure subjective point of view. While newtons physic are like a language of nature to be used by people to build things and which can be used by all people, mbti may or may not be liked by the individual dealing with it.

    Back in the days I did a lot of research on how european psychologists stand on the topic of mbti and it is generally considered dangerous, as a layman psychology. It maybe is a language to talk about observation in people every person makes, but it is no real description of the inner workings and the outer influences that is and that form a person.

    You may want to say, back in his days noone liked newtons theory aswell and nowadays its fundamental physics. But you see the difference is newtons physics has no value, its the attempt to objectively create a language system to talk about nature and it is within its limitations correct and just fact.

    While mbti can be or can not be accepted by a person. And no matter what the person chooses, he or she is not wrong with the choice.
    [URL]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEBvftJUwDw&t=0s[/URL]

  8. #8
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    One of the most important aspects of a scientific theory is that it must be quantifiable and repeatable...

    So, I think part of the reason some people do not find MBTI to be scientific is the fact that it is not repeatably quantifiable. Among the criticisms of MBTI that some people make is the fact that you can find someone to match the MBTI theory just as easily as you can find someone who does not, and until those reasons are explained it tends to be difficult for certain people to accept it as scientific.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tamske View Post
    You've got to know the limits of the theory, of course. But even physics has its limits. In superconducting metals, electrons travel in twosomes
    generally speaking, or at least according to the US national academy of sciences, a theory results when a body of "scientific explanations are so well established that no new body of evidence is likely to alter them"...

    and according to the american association for the advancement of science a:
    "A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. "

    MBTI doesn't really fit either definition...

    this is another quote from the same article
    "In everyday language a theory means a hunch or speculation. Not so in science. In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature supported by facts gathered over time. Theories also allow scientists to make predictions about as yet unobserved phenomena,"

    MBTI more closely matches this definition, which is not the generally accepted scientific definition and probably why some people do not consider MBTI scientific. - Theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  9. #9
    failure to thrive AphroditeGoneAwry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tamske View Post
    This thread is a reaction on the "MBTI is not scientific anyway" these I've encountered more than once.

    So, when is a theory "scientific"? I'll start with a cartoon:



    Of course, math is purest. It's a very beautiful field full of the abstract ideas we NeTi users love . There is a flip side to the coin of purity: math doesn't describe the outside reality. For that, you have to contaminate the perfect abstract-idea world with observations. I'm a physicist. Physics is a description of reality - and you need to distinguish between description and law or morality. (It's in our nature to be racistic, but that observation doesn't mean I approve racism. Just to be clear: I don't.)

    Now about MBTI.
    There are differences between people. People have different characters. I want a language to describe them. I want to group them. I want to seek some patterns. If you do some statistics, you'll find nice Bell curves for all the dichotomies. Bell curves. Not peaks. That means the dichotomies do describe differences.
    Perhaps you'll find Bell curves for any dichotomy you can devise. But we're dealing with humans here. I don't think you can do anything better than this.
    But even while you can't find hard-and-fast laws ("All ESFPs are dumb" isn't true while "All electrons are repulsed by each other" is.), it's a consistent theory and it does describe reality.

    You've got to know the limits of the theory, of course. But even physics has its limits. In superconducting metals, electrons travel in twosomes.

    Edit: to credit the creator of that nice cartoon. Randall Munroe - see more on xkcd: Campfire.

    As to the other guy down there that said scientific theories can't be proven wrong: Yes they can and are all the time, depending on your perspective, of course, and as we gain more and more knowledge of how the world works. Research builds on itself. Probably only a fraction of what we think we know now will stand the test of time as huger, more fundamental discoveries are made. Although the more 'pure' the science, the less likely it will be proven wrong.

    Tamske, you need to go back to the beginning if you are going to be serious about this. Back to Jung, the discoverer of the cognitive functions. Myers developed her own personality theories alongside (but unbeknownst to her) Jung, but abandoned hers for his, because his were more comprehensive. Her daughter, Briggs, later made the dichotomies and developed the test. But it's all founded on the primary two functions each type uses. So, to understand how they got there, you need to understand the functions.

    I think, through my intuition, that the cog functions are the expressions of groupings of our personality as revealed in genes>alleles>chromosomes. The cognitive functions, as viewed in this light, are very primitive indeed, but this it to be expected because our understanding of how the mind works, and what makes our personality, are fairly primitive as well, comparatively. This is the biological side, the nature side. What's missing here is understanding all the stuff that gets turned on and off and why, hidden genes. There are also 'selfish' genes. What makes some types of people the 'type' to survive while others of the same type struggle, or is this last question more a 'nurture' question? It overlaps thus confounding us.

    What is severely lacking in current personality theory, imo, is the other side, the nurture side, which I think makes up less of our personality, but is crucial and present. I call this our ego. And I think it's interesting that Jung and Freud were colleagues for a while, until they had an apparent falling out. When our ego develops it helps call into play what cognitive functions are used and when, I believe. And accounts for our temperament to a large degree, how we deal with stress, etc. (but it's tricky because all those things can come from our innate biology as well). These particular facets of *us* personality theory currently cannot explain, nor should it, which is where 'mbti' begins will break down if people use it thus.

    Then I suspect there are many other markers of personality that we simply cannot see yet; like trying to see into outer space without a telescope. These might indeed be our stereotypes. Ironic that what is derided as a stereotype today, might be the wisp of the edge of a giant truth tomorrow.......
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    That picture is missing economists, who would be to the left of the sociologists.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

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