# re: Is it real, or is it Memorex? 7/30/2004 11:15 AM AndrewSeven

I'm not certain that "believe" is the right word, so I'll use "assume".

I assume that many people assume that you can arrive at the truth through concensus.
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Interesting comment.  I used to do basic research in organic chemistry. In science consensus is what it's all about. One can demonstrate that a theory holds for a given experiment but can never completely prove a theory because the exception case always could be one experiment away. All it takes is one solid counter example to disprove a theory.  So scientists are constantly testing theories and as more and more leaders in the field perform experiments and do calculations that refine the theory and/or fail to produce a counter example, a consensus of opinion emerges.  This is as close as one gets to truth in science. An example is Newtonian physics. This set of theories and math (calculus) was thought to be sufficient to explain the physical behavior of objects until physicists started studying objects with very high charge to mass ratios, eg. atomic and subatomic particles. The existing theories didn't hold because they did not take into consideration the wave-like properties of such particles, so a new set of theories was developed called quantum mechanics.  That was the new consensus for a period of time but now string theory and the like are being developed to explain behaviors that are not explained by quantum theory.  And on it goes. 

A couple of chemists named Woodward and Hoffman found a way around this conundrum.  They advanced a theory called the Conservation of Orbital Symmetry.  In their seminal paper on the subject they included a chapter titled Exceptions.  What followed was a basically a blank page with the words “there are none“ printed in the middle.  This was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Chemists all over the world immediately set out to prove these guys wrong, only to discover that Woodward and Hoffman had so carefully crafted their theory that all apparent counter examples, of which there were many, were by definition, outside the space defined by their theory.  Clever guys those two.  Could have been philosophy majors. Hoffman received a Nobel prize for this work.  Woodward missed out because he died and Nobels are not awarded posthumously, but not to worry, he already had one.

If one seeks truth the path is most likely spiritual in nature, because it's predominantly a matter of faith, but you could be onto something here.  It may be available in blogs :)

Have a great weekend